Israeli PM Promises to Annex Large Palestinian Territory if Reelected

Disclaimer: This article was authored before the Israeli election and the information, while accurate, may be of less importance.

Pictured in blue is the area Netanyahu promises to annex upon his reelection. In orange is the greater Jericho area. (via The Jerusalem Post)

After a whirlwind of bureaucracy and legislative backs-and-fourths that saw Israel’s one-house legislative body temporarily dissolve in May, eleven year standing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset have called for a do-over election. With this second election (the results of which are set to come out on the 17th of this month), Netanyahu also delivered a rather alarming promise to his people and the international community: Should he be reelected, Israel will annex the large Jordan Valley area from Palestine.

The Jordan Valley encompasses a large swathe of land on either side of the Jordan River, which drains into the Dead Sea. However, the plan to annex the Valley also extends along the Palestinian coast of the Dead Sea which, if executed in full, would surround Palestine in Israeli territory.

However, within the Jordan Valley area is the Palestinian city of Jericho. Apparently in a bid to avoid addressing the state of the large population of Palestinians there, he excluded the area around the city, which itself would become an enclave within Israeli territory.

So, what would “King Bibi” Netanyahu and Israel gain from this annexation? Well, within the planned area of annexation live about 65,000 Palestinian settlers, 11,000 Israelis, and multiple Bedouin communities. The valley also hosts a large quantity of fertile farmland. It should be noted that Israel has occupied the region since 1967. However, the formal annexation of this area would make it an official part of Israel, making any citizen within that area Israeli. Where Netanyahu benefits chiefly from this is international recognition, making it much more difficult in future talks for Palestine to see these lands returned to them in the future.

The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations”

— Official statement from the Arab League during a meeting in Cairo

The move drew a largely negative response from the international community. One of the louder voices of criticism has been the Arab League, a union of 22 Arabic-speaking states (including Palestine) that stretches from Mauritania to Oman. Calling the move an act of aggression, they and many other international bodies have expressed concern for any possible peace process between the two countries going forward. Some have even considered it the killing blow to the two state solution that has kept an uneasy peace the region for the better part of a century.

Arab League member states (via National Geographic)

However, criticism was not reserved to Israel’s longtime neighborly rivals. Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, who has been spearheading recent inquiries into peace between the two states, states that he hoped Netanyahu would take a hard look at President Trump’s upcoming proposal before making any such moves.

Alongside this statement, the United Nations also issued a statement that the annexation would have “no international effect.”