EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini
EU foreign affairs chief Federica MogheriniREUTERS

The European Union warned Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's pledge to annex the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area if he wins next week's election undermines chances for peace in the region.

"The policy of settlement construction and expansion... is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace," an EU spokesperson said in a statement to AFP.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is running for reelection next week, announced that if he wins an additional term as premier, he would apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea region shortly after forming his new government.

"We are on the eve of the elections. President Trump said he will present his Deal of the Century few days after the election and it is just around the corner. This presents us with a great challenge and a great opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria and other areas," Netanyahu said.

"There is one place that Israeli sovereignty can be applied immediately after the elections if Israeli citizens let me in. Today I announce my intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea," he declared.

Netanyahu added that at a later stage, after the US has presented its Middle East peace plan, Israel would apply sovereignty to all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The US response to Netanyahu’s announcement was muted, with a senior US official saying there would be “no change” in American policy “at this time”.

The United Nations, however, warned Israel that such a move would be in violation of international law and would have no “international legal effect”.

"The secretary-general's position has always been clear: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process," UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"Any Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdictions and administration in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect.”