Israel's Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank's Jordan Valley if re-elected

Cheryl Sanders
September 10, 2019

The Jordan Valley is a 2,400 square kilometer (927 square mile) territory that stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north. Palestinians want the valley to serve as the eastern perimeter of their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge on Tuesday to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected in September 17 polls.

But Mr Netanyahu said such a move would not be made before publication of a long-awaited USA peace plan and consultations with President Donald Trump.

What is clear is that he believes the possibility of such a move may be shrinking - "a historic opportunity that we may not have again" - if Trump does not win reelection.

That phrasing also suggests that - for all the bluster - Ntanyahu is not entirely certain that annexation of all the settlements will necessarily be accepted by the Trump White House, even if and when the Trump peace plan is finally published, allegedly a day after next week's election. Unlike East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israel never extended its sovereignty to the West Bank.

In his presentation, Netanyahu called on all Israeli voters to ask themselves who they preferred negotiating a peace deal with the United States - him or his rivals, former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, who leads the opposition Blue and White party.

US officials said Netanyahu had told them about his proposal ahead of time and had not raised any objections because they do not think it will affect prospects for an eventual agreement. "Netanyahu drafted a plan to cede the Jordan Valley in 2014".

He called on the worldwide community to "act now to prevent Netanyahu and his allies from burying any remaining prospects for peace".

Netanyahu, who used a map of the Jordan Valley to illustrate his plans, said Trump's peace parameters "will place before us a great challenge and also a great opportunity".

Its settlements there are considered illegal under global law and major stumbling blocks to peace as they are built on land the Palestinian see as part of their future state.

This election is the second to be held this year after he failed to form a coalition government in May. In an impromptu news conference on Monday, he announced that Israel had uncovered what he alleged was another Iranian nuclear production site.

The stakes for Netanyahu in the election could not be higher. If he loses the election, his chances for immunity from prosecution are greatly diminished.

Other reports by iNewsToday