UN wants Middle East mediators to meet 'as soon as possible' over annexation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to go ahead with plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank next month
The United Nations Middle East envoy is trying to arrange a meeting of key global mediators to discuss prospects and threats to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Nations said on Friday.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said it would be beneficial to have a meeting of the so-called Middle East Quartet - the UN, US, Russia and the European Union - take place "as soon as possible."
He was responding to a question on whether it was imperative for the Quartet to meet before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank starting next month, in line with President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan.
Mr Dujarric said Nikolay Mladenov, special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, is holding discussions with the parties on holding a Quartet meeting.
Last month, Mr Mladenov told Israel it should abandon its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including the strategic Jordan Valley and dozens of Jewish settlements, warning that going ahead would violate international law and deal "a devastating blow" to the two-state solution.
He also called on the US, Russia and EU to work with the UN to quickly come up with a proposal to enable the Quartet to take up their mediation role and work with countries in the region for peace.
The US plan envisions leaving about one third of the occupied West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, under permanent Israeli control, while granting the Palestinians expanded autonomy in the remainder of the territory.
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Friday rallied to mark 53 years of Israeli occupation and protest against the government's plans.
In Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank, dozens of demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Israeli settlements and the plans, which could move ahead as soon as next month.
Israeli troops fired stun grenades and tear gas to repel protesters approaching a military checkpoint.
"This march shows our rejection of any plan of settlement or annexation," said Iyad Jarada, secretary of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party in the city.
"This is our land and we will defend it with all our power and energy."
Near Tubas, also in the northern West Bank, a protester was wounded in the head by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli forces, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Further protests were taking place in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, and the Jordan Valley, which could be annexed as part of the Israeli plan.
In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, hundreds gathered, chanting against Israel's occupation, as well as anti-American slogans.
Updated: June 10, 2020 03:42 PM