Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday promised to annex the Jordan Valley in West Bank if he is re-elected next week, AFP reported.
“There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the elections,” Netanyahu said in a televised address to the nation. “If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so...today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.”
Asserting Israeli sovereignty over the region is considered crucial for Netanyahu to get right-wing nationalist votes and to stitch a coalition. He had failed to form a coalition government following elections held in April, after which fresh elections were scheduled for September 17.
The prime minister said Palestinian cities such as Jericho would not be annexed. “This is a historic, one-time opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty on our settlements...and other places of importance to our security, our heritage and our future,” he said.
Palestinians see the West Bank as part of their future state. However, the region was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War and have been under its occupation ever since. Jordan Valley makes up about a third of the region, and is considered by Israel to be vital to its security.
Golan Heights, another region captured by Israel in the war, was annexed by it in 1981, though the international community does not recognise it. Ahead of the April elections, United States President Donald Trump had signed a proclamation recognising Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights.
Netanyahu also said he intended to annex Israeli settlements in the rest of the West Bank if re-elected. He said he would do so in coordination with United States President Donald Trump.
Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said the decisions, if implemented, would “not only destroy the two-state solution” but “destroy all chances of peace”. She said it would be “worse than apartheid”. Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat said the annexation would be “manifestly illegal”.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the annexation could push the whole region towards violence and kill the peace process.
In the elections held in April, Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 35 out of 120 seats, but was unable to form a coalition – the first such instance in the country’s history. Israel has always had coalition governments. No party has ever won majority in the country’s 120-seat parliament.
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