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Now Is Not the Time for Unilateral Annexations
Signing the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty at the Arava border terminal, October 26, 1994. Seated (L-R) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton and Jordanian Prime Minister al-Majali. (Israel Government Press Office)

Now Is Not the Time for Unilateral Annexations

Ma’ariv, Israel, May 20

Whether or not Israel reaches some form of agreement with the Palestinians in the future, it is clear to all that the Jordan Valley must remain part of Israeli territory under any arrangement. The security and strategic reasons are obvious and the stance is well known to both the international community and the Palestinian leadership. However, there is also a question of timing. Shortly after the unveiling of the Trump peace plan earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rushed to announce that he would immediately and unilaterally annex the Jordan Valley. In his visit there this past February, he claimed that his government would pursue this move in coordination with the White House but without getting the Palestinians involved. Netanyahu, in an effort to appease his political base, is willing to risk Israel’s national security. He is doing so with the hope of winning a few extra points with Israel’s far Right. Unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley will inherently undermine the peace agreements that Israel signed with Jordan and Egypt and wreak havoc in the Palestinian Authority. It is also dangerous in terms of Israel’s relations with the Americans, where political polarization between Republicans and Democrats in respect to Israel’s moves is growing each day. In early January, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s new political ally, announced that he opposes a unilateral move of this sort. He reiterated this commitment to President Trump himself when he met with him at the White House just weeks before the election. With a coalition that opposes this move and a trial that is set to begin, the Israeli prime minister has no political, moral or strategic mandate to pursue this risky move. He must put Israel’s national security above his own political needs and act responsibly to protect our understandings with our neighbors and most strategic allies. – Ram Ben Barak, Israeli Member of Parliament (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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