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Rocket Alert from Gaza Cuts Short Netanyahu's Election Rally in Ashdod: PM Rushed from Stage

By World Israel News

Israel's Iron Dome defense system downed incoming rockets launched by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza on Tuesday night. The rockets' trajectory prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to evacuate a campaign event in Ashdod. In Ashdod, the rocket siren wailed in the middle of Netanyahu's address, after which the prime minister reportedly urged audience members to "quietly leave the area." In Ashkelon, a campaign event by the Blue and White party was also interrupted by a second Palestinian rocket. The party's Gabi Ashkenazi was the main speaker at the Ashkelon event. The rocket landed near the southern coastal city, whose Mayor Tomer Glam ordered all bomb shelters opened for residents of the city. Israel holds the Hamas terror group responsible for all rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Following the rocket attack on Tuesday, Hamas forces evacuated posts throughout Gaza in anticipation of a retaliatory Israeli strike reported the Times of Israel.

Arab League Calls Netanyahu Plan to Annex West Bank Areas `Aggression'

By the Jerusalem Post, Reuters, World Israel News and Arab foreign ministers condemned a plan by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to annex parts of the West Bank as "aggression" undermining any chances of a peace settlement with the Palestinians. The prime minister said on Tuesday he planned to annex the Jordan Valley, a large swathe of the occupied West Bank, if he wins a closely contested election just a week away. Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war and Palestinians, who signed interim peace deals with Israel in the 1990s that include security cooperation, seek to make it part of a future state. The Arab League "considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law," Arab foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo. "The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations," the statement said. Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem. The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with around 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities. In a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, the prime minister said, "I believe that democracy obliges that I present to you before the elections and not afterward what I intend to do if you choose me… I want to request from you a clear mandate to extend Israeli sovereignty on all the settlements." Netanyahu said he would wait, out of respect for President Donald Trump, to annex the areas of Judea and Samaria in question until after the president presents his peace plan. The plan, Netanyahu said, will be presented "immediately after the elections, even a few days after the elections. It's really just around the corner." "It puts a great challenge before us, but also a great opportunity. It's a historic opportunity – a one-time window of opportunity to extend Israel sovereignty over our settlements in Judea and Samaria and also other areas of importance to our security, our history and our future," he said, adding he plans to extend sovereignty in coordination with the U.S. to as great a degree as possible. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Twitter called Netanyahu's plan a "serious escalation." Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab states to have peace treaties with Israel. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote on Twitter that the Israeli leader was out to impose a "greater Israel on all of historical Palestine and (carry) out an ethnic cleansing agenda." White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in early May that he hoped Israel would take a hard look at President Donald Trump's upcoming Middle East peace proposal before "proceeding with any plan" to annex West Bank settlements. Following Netanyahu's announcement, Blue and White's Yair Lapid posted a video to social media slamming the move. Addressing Netanyahu in a Facebook video, Lapid said, "You have been prime minister for 13 years, and if you wanted to annex the Jordan Valley or extend Israel's borders, who stopped you? It's an election stunt," Lapid added, "and it's not impressive." Meanwhile, left-wing American lobbying group J-Street issued a statement calling for a response to "this unprecedented threat." Specifically, J-street said, "House leadership must immediately bring to the floor a vote on House Resolution 326, which clearly opposes annexation and affirms US support for the two-state solution — and already has the support of over 180 Members of Congress. . . . They must make clear that annexation . . . will lead to major consequences for the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship." Palestinian reactions to Netanyahu's plan for the Jordan Valley ranged from condemnation as "manifestly illegal" to claims it represents "a vision of apartheid."

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