TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once re-elected is planning to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu revealed his plans at a press conference in Ramat Gan on Tuesday, where he promised to “apply Israeli sovereignty” to the Jordan Valley, which he described as “our eastern border, our defense wall.”
He added that the annexation of the Jordan Valley will be his first task if elected next week while further land claims will come into effect once the US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Israel-Palestine peace plan is publicized. He referred to the plan as a “historic opportunity” to negotiate the future of the region with Trump.
Although, he did not address the matter directly, his bold pronouncement can be taken as evidence that the annexation has already been coordinated with Trump.
A White House official, when asked about Netanyahu’s comments, said, “ There was no change in United States policy at this time, Washington will release its Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long sought security, opportunity and stability to the region.”
Meanwhile, commentators consider Netanyahu’s announcement as a mere rant to garner Right-wing votes.
Israeli journalist Neri Zilber writes, “The speech was a clear play by Likud for right-wing votes.”
Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer said, “It’s a meaningless policy/diversion tactic to wrest control of the agenda and take votes away from other right-wing parties,” adding, “He hasn’t got an annexation policy yet.”
On the other hand, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called his Israeli counterpart the “chief destroyer of the peace process,” and warned that “any foolish move he makes will have negative consequences for him in the domestic and international arena.”
Another Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi reealed that Netanyahu’s plan “destroys all chances of peace. He is trying to take the land without the people and saying ‘you are free to leave.”
While there maybe no doubting the fact that connotations about “annexation” catchy and is a headline-grabbing word, Netanyahu, speaking after a meeting with US National Security Advisor John Bolton in June, he had promised two things already. One, that Israeli forces will stay in the occupied West Bank and two, that any future peace plan with the Palestinians must guarantee Israel a presence in the Jordan Valley, which he said “guarantees stability and security for the entire region.”
Subsequently, he voiced similar plans, right before April’s election, when he said he would move to annex the West Bank if elected, claiming “a Palestinian state will endanger our existence.”