UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concerns over the Israeli prime minister's political campaign promise to annex parts of the West Bank if re-elected, according to United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
"The Secretary-General is concerned by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement declaring his intention, if elected, to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea as a first step to applying Israeli sovereignty over all settlements and other areas in the occupied West Bank", the release said on Wednesday.
Guterres noted that the annexation of parts of the West Bank would "constitute a serious violation of international law".
Netanyahu's statement quickly sparked a backlash in the Arab world, with Saudi Arabia categorically rejecting Netanyahu's statement, slamming this declaration as a dangerous escalation against the Palestinian people, a violation of the UN Charter and the principles of international.
Riyadh also called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the foreign minister level to discuss Netanyahu's threats and develop an urgent plan of action.
The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif bin Rashid Zayani, condemned Netanyahu's statements. Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and the League of Arab States also condemned the Tel Aviv PM's remarks.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly threatened to pull out of agreements signed with Israel if Netanyahu fulfills his promise to seize new territories in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.
For decades, Israel has been in conflict with Palestinians who seek diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which are partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli government has refused to recognize Palestine Authority as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in seized areas despite objections from the United Nations.