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British parliamentarians call for 'robust response' over Israel's annexation threat

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pre-election threat to annex Jordan Valley provoked outrage internationally
A Palestinian waves his national flag during a demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian land, in the village of Kafr Malik northeast of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank (AFP)

A group of British parliamentarians have written to the UK government urging them to "respond robustly" to Israel's threat to annex the Jordan Valley.

108 MPs from a range of political parties signed the letter, sent on Friday, which said there must be "more than just words of disapproval" in the response from the UK and Europe to the promise made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to formally annex the West Bank territory seized by Israel in the 1967 war.

"The response of the international community must act as a deterrent to actions which would smash the two-state solution — the internationally agreed parameter for resolving this conflict," read the letter.

"In view of the imminence of the Israeli election, the UK must make this strong position public without delay."

The letter warned the new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that allowing the annexation would "undermine the long-standing principle of the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory through war."

Ahead of polls on 17 September, Netanyahu on Tuesday issued a pledge to formally annex the strategic Jordan Valley - which accounts for around a third of the occupied West Bank - if he wins the vote.

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During the televised speech, he also again promised to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank.

Netanyahu's promise has drawn firm condemnation from the Palestinians, Arab states, the United Nations and the EU.

A statement put out jointly by France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK on Thursday said the countries were "deeply concerned" about the possibility of the annexation.

"This would, if implemented, constitute a serious breach of international law," read the statement.

"France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom will continue to call on all parties to refrain from actions in contravention of international law that would imperil the viability of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 lines, and make it harder to achieve a just and lasting peace."

The legislative elections on 17 September were called after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government following previous elections on 9 April.

Netanyahu has sought to highlight his relations with world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, and on Thursday arrived in Russia for his third visit to the country this year.

He has also promised to coordinate with close ally Trump on future West Bank annexations. The US president's long-touted peace plan is expected to be unveiled after the election.