Israel’s plan to annex nearly a third of the West Bank amounts to a "vision of a 21st Century apartheid" and will only intensify human rights violations against Palestinians, UN experts said on Tuesday.
The group of almost 50 UN human rights specialists warned that the move would be a “serious violation” of international law and reinforce an "already unjust reality".
"What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world,” the experts said.
Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu aims to begin a process of applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley and West Bank from July 1.
The US effectively gave its blessing for the move last year in President Trump's Middle East peace plan, which proposes to leave Palestine with the remaining 70 per cent of the West Bank, along with Gaza and part of East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians, who claim these lands in their entirety, have rejected the terms.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and built dozens of settlements, which are widely considered to be illegal by the international community.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said annexation of parts of the West Bank would “amount to a breach of international law” and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday reiterated his government's view that such a move would be illegal.
Arab leaders also widely condemned Israel’s plans.
Speaking to US senators by video conference on Tuesday, the king of Jordan described the annexation plans as “unacceptable” and a risk to stability in the Middle East.
Peace can only come with the creation of an "independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state" with East Jerusalem as its capital King Abdullah told US lawmakers.
“Any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable and undermines the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the region," the royal palace said.
Jordan, which shares a border with Israel, is one of just two Arab states to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
Several Gulf nations also reinforced their opposition to annexation on Tuesday.
Kuwait’s permanent delegate to the UN Jamal Al Ghunaim said it would mark a “new chapter” in illegal settlements on Arab lands and highlighted the “mounting obligation” on the international community to intervene and prevent further abuses.
Saudi Arabia’s council of ministers affirmed the kingdom’s absolute support for the Palestinian people and called Israel’s annexation plans a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law.
In mid-May, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas ended security cooperation with Israel, saying the annexation plans showed Israel is no longer honouring previous agreements.
Mr Abbas visited Ramallah on Tuesday after Palestinian authorities accused Israel of an incursion into the West Bank city.
Israeli forces "searched three houses inside Ramallah, but did not make any arrests," Ghassan Nimr, spokesman for the Palestinian interior ministry, said.
Sources in Palestine’s security services say they have been destroying secret files in case of Israeli raids on their offices if the annexation goes ahead.
During the second Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the early 2000s, Israeli security forces repeatedly raided the offices of Palestinian security services and removed confidential documents.
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh recently warned of a "hot summer" if annexation goes ahead. During the visit to Ramallah he said the plan represents “an existential threat to the Palestinian people.”