Netanyahu vows to annex Jordan Valley 'immediately' if re-elected

Stephane Dujarric

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a deeply controversial pledge on Tuesday to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if re-elected in September 17 polls.

Some see the area as Palestinian territory while Netanyahu says it's rightfully his to annex.

"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 speech broadcast live on Israeli TV channels.

Should Netanyahu move forward with the plans, the move would effectively crush any hopes for a two-state solution in the conflict, which has always been the focus of global diplomacy.

In response Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh labelled Mr Netanyahu a 'prime destroyer of the peace process'. "This is a total game changer".

It did mention that they agreed to the long-awaited goal of recognizing the Jordan Valley as Israeli territory.

"Netanyahu's threat.to annex the Jordan Valley - which constitutes sixty percent of the entire West Bank area, if you include East Jerusalem - means the death ... of the two state solution", Galloway said.

And Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said the annexation would be "manifestly illegal".

"Residents of the Jordan Valley are not actors in Netanyahu's propaganda film", the Blue and White Party stated.

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"I want to receive a clear mandate from you to apply Israeli sovereignty over all settlements".

Trump has thrown United States support overwhelmingly in favor of Israel since taking office, including by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians. Jordan initially won the land during Israel's 1948 War of Independence, but Israel captured it during the 1967 Six-Day War but never annexed it into the country.

Netanyahu earned the largest share of the vote in that contest but ultimately failed to form a governing coalition, which is why Israelis will go to the polls for the second time next week.

He is again facing a hard challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.

Netanyahu became Israeli's longest-serving prime minister in July.

He is also facing a potential indictment for corruption pending a hearing scheduled for early October.

The 2,400 square kilometre (926.65 square mile) valley accounts for almost 30 percent of the territory in the West Bank.

"Israel's plan to annex the Jordan Valley, an integral part of occupied Palestine, is manifestly illegal and merely adds to Israel's long history of violations of worldwide law", Erekat, a former peace negotiator, said in a statement.

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