Ahead of Israeli Election, Netanyahu and rival Gantz Both Promise West Bank Annexations
Israeli Prime Minister and Likud party chief Binyamin Netanyahu and his main political adversary, Blue and White list head Benny Gantz, both vowed on Tuesday to annex to Israel areas of the disputed West Bank. Israel captured the territory from Jordan in the June 1967 war, and the Palestinians see it part of their own claimed future state. This comes six weeks before Israel’s March 2 election –the country’s third in under a year, and is widely seen as a ploy to attract right-wing voters, thereby ending the political deadlock that has plagued the country. Addressing Likud supporters at a campaign launch event in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he would “impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” and then vowed to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank “without exception.” Earlier on Tuesday, Gantz said that if he heads Israel’s new government, he’ll “work toward establishing sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and we will do so based on national agreement and in coordination with the international community.” The Palestinians say that without the Jordan Valley, their own state would not be viable. In the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization committed to settling all conflicts on issues such as Palestinian statehood, borders, and Israeli settlements in a negotiated, mutual agreement.