Saturday, 21 September, 2019

Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex the Jordan Valley if he's re-elected

A Palestinian shepherd walks with his herd of sheep in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday A Palestinian shepherd walks with his herd of sheep in the Jordan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday
Deanna Wagner | 10 September, 2019, 23:07

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected.

Netanyahu's announcement was the latest in a series of frenetic moves he has made in recent days aimed at rallying his hardline voters ahead of the September 17 election, and his plan would hinge on a number of factors, most critically whether U.S. President Donald Trump would support him.

"Israel's unprecedented culture of impunity, enabled by worldwide inaction, is the only explanation for Mr. Netanyahu's audacity in using annexation as an election ploy, and asking the Israeli public to facilitate yet another Israeli crime", said Erekat, who lives in the Jordan Valley.

"Netanyahu's threat.to annex the Jordan Valley - which constitutes sixty percent of the entire West Bank area, if you include East Jerusalem - means the death ... of the two state solution", Galloway said.

Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said: "Netanyahu is the chief destroyer of the peace process and any foolish move he makes will leave negative consequences on him locally and internationally".

While Netanyahu had spoken about working towards a two-state solution in the past, as the country has shifted further to the right, he has brought it up less frequently in recent times. He is now trying to convince right-leaning Israelis that he will take a "bold step" in the West Bank. "Out of respect to President Trump, I'll wait with the application of sovereignty until after the president presents his plan", Netanyahu said.

"There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections", Mr Netanyahu said in a televised speech.

The 2,400 square kilometer (926.65 square mile) valley accounts for almost 30 percent of the territory in the West Bank.

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"Residents of the Jordan Valley are not actors in Netanyahu's propaganda film", the Blue and White Party stated. But for the first time, he unveiled a map showing his plan for annexing the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu pledged yet again to annex West Bank settlements if he wins reelection next week.

Right-wing nationalist votes will be key to Netanyahu's efforts to continue his reign as Israel's longest-serving prime minister.

Israel has long said it intends to maintain military control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, leaders of the Blue and White party, Likud's main rival, have already promised to uproot 80,000 Jews from Judea and Samaria.

This election is the second to be held this year after he failed to form a coalition government in May.

He is also facing a potential indictment for corruption pending a hearing scheduled for early October.