UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he is re-elected on September 17.
“There is one place where we can apply Israeli sovereignty right after the elections,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.
The prime minister reiterated his intention to annex settlements across the West Bank if he was re-elected despite coordination with US President Donald Trump, who is expected to announce his plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the Israeli elections.
These steps could effectively dampen hopes for a two-state solution that has long been at the center of international diplomacy.
Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi described Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the event of his re-election as a “flagrant violation of international law” and “land theft and ethnic and destructive cleansing of all chances for peace.”
“In every election we pay the price of our rights and our land,” Ashrawi told AFP. “It is worse than apartheid. It displaces a whole people with history, culture and identity.”
Ashrawi said the move, which would leave the Palestinian government with the opportunity to enjoy autonomy over population centers, would be “worse than apartheid.”
“He’s trying to take over the land without the people and tells him you’re free to leave.”
Ashrawi considered Netanyahu’s pledge to change the rules of the game.
Hamas, in turn, accused the Israeli prime minister of trying to find votes for the right.
“Netanyahu still fancies that he can keep the occupation of the Palestinian land,” said spokesman Hazem Qassem. “The Palestinian people will continue their struggle until the occupation is expelled from its land and establish its independent state.
The Jordan Valley makes up about a third of the West Bank.
Right-wing politicians in Israel have long considered the region a strategy that can never be abandoned.
The settlements are located in Area C of the West Bank, which accounts for about 60 percent of the land, including most of the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu said his annexation plan would not include Palestinian cities like Jericho in the Jordan Valley.
– “Great opportunity” –
Netanyahu, who used the map of the Jordan Valley to clarify his plan, said Trump’s peace standards would “bring us a great challenge and a great opportunity as well.”
“This is a historic one-time opportunity to impose Israeli sovereignty on our settlements and other places of importance to our security, our heritage and our future.”
The US president has expressed his full support for Israel since he took office, recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid to the Palestinians.
Before the Israeli elections in April, Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war.
It is unclear whether Trump, who before the April elections expressed his hopes for Netanyahu’s victory, will in any way pursue his support for his ally before next week’s elections.
Netanyahu, with his right-wing and religious coalition, won a majority of seats in the April election, but failed to form a government and opted for a second election, a precedent.
In the next election, Netanyahu faces a tough challenge by standing against former chief of staff Benny Gantz and his centrist “blue-white” coalition.
Right-wing nationalist voices will be key to supporting Netanyahu’s efforts to fight for his premiership.
The prime minister faces a possible indictment of corruption and is awaiting a scheduled hearing in early October.
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war in a move not recognized by the international community.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to the peace process as they are built on Palestinian land that Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Israel says the Jordan Valley is a vital area for its security.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.
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