Netanyahu Green-lights Jordan Valley Annexation Bill
A day after the US declaration that Jewish communities located in the West Bank are not illegal, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu green-lighted a bill to annex the Jordan Valley, which is viewed across most of the political spectrum as essential to ensuring the country’s long-term security. Accordingly, most politicians believe the eastern territory must be maintained in perpetuity irrespective of whether a peace agreement is forged with the Palestinians. Prior to September’s election, Netanyahu vowed to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and the cabinet voted to legalize a contested civilian outpost therein. Despite the ongoing political gridlock in Jerusalem, the Likud lawmaker sponsoring the annexation bill has asked an interim legislative committee to fast-track the proposal so that it can be voted on by parliamentarians next week. For his part, Netanyahu on Tuesday made a triumphant visit to the West Bank community of Kfar Etzion, where he hailed the US decision as “an achievement that will stand for generations.” Concurrently, both the United Nations and European Union denounced the US move and reiterated their belief that Israel’s civilian presence in areas the Palestinians claim as part of a future state were illegal under international law and an impediment to peace. Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Tuesday held an inconclusive late-night meeting in a last-ditch bid to bury the hatchet and form a coalition by today’s deadline, which would stave off a third election in less than a year.