Former US vice president told an online fundraiser by members of the Jewish community in the US that he was opposed to the move.
US Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has voiced his strongest criticism yet of Israel’s plan to annex the occupied West Bank.
The former vice president was asked for his position on the issue by members of the Jewish American community at an online fundraising event, according to transcripts seen by the US outlet, the Hill.
Biden, the sole Democratic candidate remaining in the race to challenge incumbent President Donald Trump in November, said the Republican leader was undermining prospects for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The fact is, I will reverse Trump's undercutting of peace.” Biden said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring forth a vote on the annexation of the Palestinian territory during the summer, and has previously told Zionist groups that he is confident that the US will support the endeavour.
“I’m confident that that pledge will be honoured, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” the Israeli leader told a meeting of Christian Zionists in April.
The US State Department has made clear that it is ready to accept the move, saying: "(the US) is prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank.”
‘So far to the right’
The plans have nevertheless brought the Israeli prime minister into conflict with the traditional allies, such as the EU, which is discussing implementing sanctions if it goes ahead with the annexation of the territory.
“Annexation is not in line with international law. If it goes ahead, the EU will act accordingly”, the EU’s foreign policy spokesperson, Peter Stano, said earlier last week.
Territories, such as the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, are internationally recognised as Palestinian land and any attempt to annex them into Israel proper would be a violation of international law, which prohibits acquisition of land by conquest.
Israel has previously unilaterally annexed the occupied Golan Heights, which belong to Syria. The move was recognised by US President Donald Trump in 2019.
The opposition by Biden, who is no enemy of Israel himself, gives Netanyahu a potentially short window in which he can proceed with the annexation.
Earlier, Biden had said that he was disappointed in how Netanyahu had moved “so, so far to the right.”
"The fate of the #Palestine|ian & #Israel|i people must not be determined by destructive unilateral actions that cement divisions & may put peace beyond our reach in our lifetime."— UNSCO (@UNSCO_MEPP) May 20, 2020
Read #UN Envoy @nmladenov's full briefing to the #SecurityCouncil here 👇https://t.co/ARZIESs5VZ
While claiming he would reverse Trump’s most harmful policies, Biden said he would not return the US embassy in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, a tacit recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the city.
The former vice president insisted that his “commitment to Israel is absolutely unshakable” and warned critics of Israel on the left that they risked “morphing” into anti-Semites.
His comments have been criticised by left wing activists for allegedly ring fencing Israel from criticism over its abuses of Palestinians.