Ilhan Omar, Bernie Sanders Condemn Netanyahu West Bank Annexation Plan: 'The Nail in the Coffin to a Two-state Solution'

Prominent Democrats have come out in opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to annex large parts of the Palestinian West Bank if he is re-elected in a national poll next week.

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Senator Bernie Sanders said the plan threatens any future peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and urged U.S. lawmakers to refuse to co-operate with Netanyahu's proposal if he does indeed win the coming election.

Netanyahu unveiled his pledge on Wednesday, as he sought to appeal to right-wing voters ahead of the September 17 election. Netanyahu won a general election in April, but was ultimately unable to form a governing coalition.

The latest polls put Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party neck-and-neck with the centrist Blue and White coalition. Netanyahu will hope his appeal to the country's far-right will be enough to hand him victory and give him another chance to form a coalition government.

The West Bank is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, though in reality much of it is subject to Israeli military authority and large swathes are closed to public access. Israeli military roadblocks and other security installations break up Palestinian West Bank land so it is non-contiguous, creating a collection of islands of limited Palestinian control.

Netanyahu has previously mooted annexing some parts of the territory, but on Tuesday offered his most detailed proposals to date. The prime minister said he would apply "Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea," which forms the country's eastern border—or as he described it, Israel's "defense wall"—with Jordan. This constitutes some 30 percent of all West Bank territory.

Netanyahu also said he would annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank—considered illegal under international law—in coordination with the White House. "I am waiting to do this in maximum coordination with Trump," he explained.

The White House and Republican Party offered no significant response to the announcement, which was overshadowed by National Security Adviser John Bolton's departure from the administration. The loss of Bolton, a foreign policy hawk who was virulently anti-Iran, is a significant one for Netanyahu.

But several prominent Democrats quickly condemned Netanyahu's pledge, noting the plan would violate international law and destroy any surviving hope for the two-state solution.

Vermont Senator Sanders, currently among the front runners for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination, said that "all who support Israeli-Palestinian peace must oppose" Netanyahu's plan. He warned that the "proposal to annex occupied territory would violate international law and make a two-state solution nearly impossible."

Minnesota Rep. Omar—whose criticism of Netanyahu has led her opponents to brand her anti-Semitic—said a Netanyahu victory would be "the nail in the coffin to a two-state solution or any peace deal."

"Anyone who does not condemn this or take action to prevent it cannot credibly say they support a two-state solution," she continued. "Speak up!!!"

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen also voiced his concern following the announcement. He suggested Netanyahu's proposal would undermine peace efforts and could damage U.S.-Israeli relations as a result.

"Netanyahu's annexation plan killing a viable two-state solution shows he is willing to risk long-term harm to Israel and U.S.-Israel relations for short term political gain," he wrote on Twitter. "Trump may back this reckless move, but Congress should reject it."

Netanyahu, West Bank, annexation, Sanders, Omar
In this file photo, Israeli soldiers stand guard next to the site where the body of an Israeli soldier was found with multiple stabs near the settlement of Migdal Oz in the West Bank on August 8, 2019. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images/Getty