Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday on Israeli TV that if he is to win the upcoming elections, then his government will formally annex the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, along with the areas where there are currently illegal Israeli settlements. The annexation would mean that what remains around Jericho would be a small island within Israel.
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“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six-Day War and I doubt we will have another opportunity in the next 50 years" said Netanyahu as he outlined his plan to extend the occupation and formally colonize huge areas of what remains of the Palestinian West Bank.
At the recent April elections, Netanyahu had already vowed to annex those areas where there are illegal settlements, but said that the ‘historic opportunity’ afforded to him by U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘peace deal’ is a chance to also take the Jordan Valley, thereby reducing the West Bank to a small, encircled enclave.
Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, responded to the move and what he expects coverage to be, saying “My prediction of consequences of Israeli annexation of West Bank: one news cycle of excited headlines followed by business as usual as @EUinIsrael states and Arab regimes continue to reward and embrace Israel for its crimes. That’s why we need more #BDS.”
Telegraph's Middle East correspondent Raf Sanchez says that this scuppers any possible peace based on the ‘two state solution’, commenting “Here's the map of Netanyahu's proposed annexation. It would essentially slice off the entire eastern edge of the West Bank and mean Jericho is a Palestinian island inside Israel territory. Very hard for anyone to pretend Two States is still viable if this happens.”
Netanyahu’s announcement just a week before elections in which opinion polls suggest he is tied with Benjamin Gantz of the ‘Israel Resilience’ party, who has taken on a similarly aggressive tone against the Palestinians.
Netanyahu will hope that the new policy will take attention away from corruption scandals that have plagued him throughout the past year.