Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s general election.
Netanyahu said in a speech broadcast live on Israeli TV on Tuesday:
Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.
The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea constitute almost 30 percent of the West Bank. Some 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in the area most of which is under Israeli military control in what is referred to as Area C.
Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life in a closely contested election, reaffirmed the pledge to annex all Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank but said such a move would not be made before publication of a long-awaited US peace plan and consultations with President Donald Trump.
There was no immediate comment from Washington.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in a statement issued shortly before Netanyahu spoke, amid reports of a possible annexation announcement said the Israeli leader is a prime destroyer of the peace process.
The Palestinian territory is not part of Netanyahu’s election campaign.
The 2,400-square kilometer Jordan Valley, which Palestinians seek for the eastern perimeter of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stretches from the Dead Sea in the south to the Israeli city of Beit Shean in the north.
Israel has long said it intends to maintain military control there under any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war.
Netanyahu’s announcement appeared to be aimed at shoring up the support of hard-line nationalist voters. He is in a tight race and has turned to a series of dramatic announcements in recent days as part of a frantic effort to mobilize his supporters.
Source: Palestine Chronicle