(September 12, 2019 / JNS) Israeli residents of the Jordan Valley hailed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Tuesday that he plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to the area if he is re-elected on Sept. 17. Netanyahu’s pledge was widely criticized in the Arab world, and also by some Palestinian Jordan Valley residents.
Netanyahu made the announcement in a televised address late Tuesday, complete with a map of the area. The Jordan Valley comprises approximately 25 percent of Judea and Samaria and is already under Israeli control.
Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani called announcement was “one of the most significant and moving of my 11-year term.”
There are some 30 Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley, as well as more than 45 small Arab towns. Netanyahu has said that Arab population centers, such as the city of Jericho, will not be annexed.
“We tell Netanyahu, and whoever follows him, you will not break the Palestinians’ will; you will never break our will, never, never,” said Hassan al-Abedi, a farmer from Jiftlik, according to a report in The Times of Israel. “It’s our parents’ and grandparents’ land. We will hold onto it no matter what it costs.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the plan would constitute “a serious violation of international law, while Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would cancel all agreements with Israel if it carried out the annexation.
“It’s impossible to have a Palestinian state without the Jordan Valley,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters in an interview from his office in Jericho. “My prosperity can come [only] if I can control my natural resources, my shores on the Dead Sea, my shores on the Mediterranean, my water, my land.”
But while some Palestinians expressed concern over the potential move, others seemed to welcome it.
Jalal Abu Jarrar, 30, who owns a service station at the entrance to the Palestinian village of Marj Ghazal, said that “sometimes we have water, sometimes we don’t, the same with electricity. And yet, it’s better than before when we had only saltwater.”
From his point of view, he said, Israeli annexation would make very little difference.
“It’s already like we are in Israel,” he said. “What’s going to change? We’re under total Israeli control, there’s nothing new.”
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