In a live TV address, Israel’s prime minister said he plans to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he wins next week’s election. Palestinian officials said he was “destroying all chances of peace.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to begin annexing West Bank settlements if he is re-elected in next week’s polls.
“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,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech.
Netanyahu also repeated his intention to annex other Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if he is re-elected. Although that would only come after consulting with US President Donald Trump.
He did not mention what he would do with the Jordan Valley’s 2 million Palestinian residents.
The Israeli leader has been making a last-minute push for votes ahead of Israel’s general election on September 17.
‘Destroying all chances of peace’
Should Netanyahu move forward with the plans. The move would effectively crush any hopes for a two-state solution in the conflict. Since long which has long been the focus of international diplomacy.
Shortly after the announcement, a senior Palestinian official said Netanyahu is putting the entire peace process in jeopardy.
“He is not only destroying the two-state solution, he is destroying all chances of peace,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told media. “This is a total game changer.”
Ahead of the announcement, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh cautioned against such a move, saying that “the Palestinian territory is not part of Netanyahu’s election campaign.”
The Jordan Valley comprises around one-third of the West Bank and contains numerous Israeli settlements.
The Jordan Valley is a 2,400 square kilometer (927 square mile) territory that stretches from the Dead Sea in the south. Palestinians want the valley as their own state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But he was unable to form a coalition and forced a second election.
The international community considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law, built on land confiscated from Palestinian families.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital early in his term as US president further damaged the two-state ideal. The Palestinians regard the occupied eastern section of Jerusalem as the capital of any future state. They want to cut contact with Washington after the declaration.
Earlier this year, Trump also recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. A plateau Israel captured from Syria in the same 1967 conflict and annexed in 1981. The move broke from the post-second world war international consensus that forbids territorial conquest during war.
Palestinians warned at the time that it set a dangerous precedent for land grabs in the West Bank.