Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements

Jordan valley residents pleased about annexation after years of government neglect

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu vows to annex West Bank settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday his intention to annex Jordan Valley in occupied West Bank if he wins next week's general elections, Reuters quoted an Israeli TV channel as saying.

In 2015 Netanyahu made a similar play, goading supporters with his infamous claim that "Arab voters are coming out in droves" while insisting that Israel would build anywhere it chose inside Jerusalem and never withdraw from the occupied territories.

Netanyahu also repeated his intention to annex other Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if he is re-elected, although that would only come after consulting with US President Donald Trump who is expected to soon unveil his peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan, he said, is to cut off the eastern edge of the West Bank which would make Jericho a Palestinian island inside Israel territory.

Israeli settlements are located in what is known as Area C of the West Bank, which accounts for some 60 percent of the territory, including the vast majority of the Jordan Valley.

That phrasing also suggests that - for all the bluster - Ntanyahu is not entirely certain that annexation of all the settlements will necessarily be accepted by the Trump White House, even if and when the Trump peace plan is finally published, allegedly a day after next week's election.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War in a move never recognized by the global community. "We can annex settlements immediately after the elections if I am re-elected Prime Minister". Some 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in the area - most of which is under Israeli military control in what is referred to as Area C.

Ahead of his speech, Netanyahu's team billed the announcement as "dramatic" and allowed rumors to float about what the troubled leader would be discussing just one week ahead of his next election.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.

In January, ahead of the most recent April election, Netanyahu also called a "dramatic announcement" in which he discussed investigations into multiple corruption cases that he and his wife are now entangled in.

He said the plan was being drafted in coordination with the Trump administration, which is expected to release its long-awaited Middle East peace plan sometime after Israel's September 17 election.

The changes, however, have all but eliminated the idea of a peaceful agreement between Palestine and Israel.

Netanyahu says he plans to extend sovereignty in coordination with the as great a degree as possible.

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