JIFTLIK, West Financial institution (Reuters) – Palestinians tilling the fertile Jordan Valley mentioned on Wednesday they’ve been rooted for generations to the West Financial institution land that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to annex, they usually vowed by no means to provide it up.
Palestinian college students play soccer at their faculty in Jordan Valley within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman
“We inform Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you’ll not break the Palestinians’ will, you’ll by no means break our will, by no means, by no means,” mentioned Hassan Al-Abedi, a 55-year-old farmer who lives within the village of Jiftlik.
“It’s our mother and father’ and grandparents’ land. We’ll maintain onto it it doesn’t matter what it prices.”
The appropriate-wing Netanyahu introduced on Tuesday that he plans to “apply Israeli sovereignty” to the Jordan Valley and adjoining northern Lifeless Sea if he prevails in what’s shaping up as a tricky battle for re-election on Sept. 17.
The plan drew condemnation from Arab leaders and from Palestinians, who search to ascertain a state in the entire Israeli-occupied West Financial institution and the Gaza Strip.
The workplace of U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres mentioned the plan “would represent a critical violation of worldwide regulation.”
Palestinian leaders mentioned it will additionally successfully nullify interim peace offers from the 1990s that included safety cooperation.
Towards the backdrop of Jordan’s desert mountain vary to the east, Palestinian farmers tended their crops and anxious about their future in an space the place the city of Jericho and the River Jordan are reminders of a biblical previous.
“This isn’t Netanyahu’s land to provide,” mentioned Ismael Hassan, a 75-year-old Palestinian from Zbeidat village. “Whether or not or not Netanyahu succeeds (within the election) we received’t settle for it. This land is for Palestine, for the Palestinians.”
In Israel, which captured the West Financial institution in a 1967 battle, Netanyahu’s declaration was extensively seen as a bid to sap assist from far-right election rivals who advocate annexation of Jewish settlements, and from a center-left that for many years has argued that the Jordan Valley must be saved on safety grounds.
Retaining the Jordan Valley would successfully go away Israel encircling any Palestinian political entity that emerges.
Following up on his speech with remarks on Fb on Wednesday, Netanyahu took credit score for having persuaded U.S. President Donald Trump to acknowledge Israeli sovereignty over one other strategic slice of occupied territory – the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967 – and to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
The White Home was knowledgeable upfront of Tuesday’s annexation announcement, Netanyahu mentioned, including that he was “crafting opinion in favor of recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley”.
A U.S. official confirmed Washington had been notified however mentioned the announcement was not coordinated.
Netanyahu’s determination to make the promise confirmed that he had little cause to concern any pushback from the Trump administration, which has hewed to a closely pro-Israel coverage and backed Trump at nearly each flip since he took workplace in 2017.
Some 53,000 Palestinians and round 12,800 Israeli settlers dwell within the Jordan Valley, in line with monitor Peace Now. The primary Palestinian metropolis within the area is Jericho, with round 28 villages and smaller Bedouin communities.
Palestinians usually confer with the Jordan Valley as their “breadbasket”. In his speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu described it as Israel’s jap border with Jordan.
“Even Netanyahu’s important rivals imagine that any Palestinian entity that’s established within the West Financial institution must be utterly encircled by Israel, having no border with Jordan,” mentioned Nathan Thrall, an Worldwide Disaster Group analyst.
“The annexation plan shouldn’t be dismissed as election bluster. If reelected, Netanyahu might be underneath great strain to implement it.”
The valley, which at 2,400 sq. kilometers (926 sq. miles) accounts for almost 30% of the West Financial institution, has dozens of Palestinian farms in addition to open areas that the Palestinian Authority has sought to develop for photo voltaic power tasks and industrial zones.
There are some 30 primarily agricultural settlements within the space, together with 18 smaller Israeli outposts, Peace Now says.
“It’s unattainable to have a Palestinian state with out the Jordan Valley,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat informed Reuters in an interview from his workplace in Jericho.
“My prosperity can come (solely) if I can management my pure sources, my shores on the Lifeless Sea, my shores on the Mediterranean, my water, my land.”
Erekat mentioned the Palestinians would welcome “a 3rd get together presence” equivalent to NATO or the European Union however mentioned: “A Israeli army or civilian presence within the state of Palestine will not be okay. As a result of this is not going to make peace.”
Israeli leaders have dominated out such a overseas peacekeeper drive, citing the failure of the same proposal for Gaza after Israel stop that territory in 2005.
“We didn’t get an period of peace. We bought three wars. We’re not going to permit that to occur to our east,” mentioned Dore Gold, a Netanyahu confidant who runs the Jerusalem Middle for Public Affairs think-tank.
The final spherical of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in 2014.
The Trump administration is predicted to launch its long-delayed peace plan after Israel’s election, and it’s nonetheless unclear whether or not the proposal will adhere to earlier U.S. assist for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a safe Israel.
That rollout is unlikely to be affected even when Netanyahu goes forward with the Jordan Valley annexation plan after the election, a U.S. official mentioned.
Palestinians have boycotted the Trump administration, accusing it of pro-Israel bias.
A far-right coalition accomplice of Netanyahu hinted at doubt concerning the premier’s sincerity, saying there had been no motion on the Jordan Valley query throughout his decade in energy. “How come this matter (annexation) is arising now, every week earlier than the election?” Bezalel Smotrich informed Israel’s Military Radio.
Netanyahu additionally reaffirmed a pledge to annex the entire settlements Israel has established within the West Financial institution. However he mentioned that broader step may take longer and required “most coordination” with Washington.
Netanyahu is preventing for his political life after an inconclusive election in April. His Likud get together is operating neck and neck in opinion polls with former armed forces chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White.
Reporting by Adel Abu Nimeh in Jiftlik, Rami Ayyub, Dan Williams and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem, Stephen Farrell in Jericho and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Writing by Rami Ayyub; Enhancing by Jeffrey Heller, Mark Heinrich, Frances Kerry and Sonya Hepinstall