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Norway urges Israel not to annex parts of the West Bank

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway, which chairs a group of international donors to the Palestinians, urged Israel on Tuesday not to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Norway heads the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which met on Tuesday, partly to discuss Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state.

“Any unilateral step would be detrimental to the (peace) process, and annexation would be in direct violation and contravention of international law,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide told Reuters after the meeting.

Norway helped to broker the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords, which provided for interim and limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories, and initiated a now-moribund long-term peace process.

Soereide said she had spoken on Tuesday with her Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, to urge Israel to resume direct talks with the Palestinians and avoid unilateral moves.

“It would undermine the potential for a two-state solution,” she said.

The AHLC meeting also urged donors to fulfil their financial commitments to the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations’ Palestinian aid agency to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

West Bank health authorities reported 388 cases of coronavirus with two deaths as of Monday, while in Gaza, 61 cases and one death were registered.

(This story has been refiled to add word “partly” in second paragraph to show Israel’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank was one of the topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting)

Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan