In a move that would thwart the reported “security arrangements” in John Kerry’s draft peace proposal, a committee of Israeli government ministers today approved new legislation to annex the occupied Jordan Valley.
Kerry’s proposal is said to include plans to imprison Palestinians behind another wall on the border with Jordan and provide Israel control of the border with Jordan for a few years before switching to a coordinated arrangement with Palestinians. And then gradually, with Israel’s approval, Palestinians would assume control, 10 to 15 years down the road. Mahmoud Abbas has already rejected this idea.
But many Israeli ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet believe even this loose arrangement affords too much leeway for Netanyahu to make concessions during the negotiations so as to get a deal. The new legislation is intended to hand-tie Netanyahu in consideration of the upcoming American proposal. It was first proposed last week by Miri Regev (a member of Knesset from Likud) and then approved today by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, by an 8 to 2 vote.
If the legislation becomes law it prevents Netanyahu from agreeing to any plan leading to eventual Palestinian control over the Jordan Valley or the border with Jordan.
Jerusalem Post, Ministers vote to annex Jordan Valley:
If the bill becomes law, Netanyahu would be unable to accept the American offer to put the Jordan Valley and border crossings into Jordan under Palestinian control, with IDF soldiers posted at the border and the US providing additional security.
“The ministerial committee’s approval of this bill now, when there are talks with the Palestinians, is a clear statement by the government that the towns in the Jordan Valley are a strategic and security asset of the State of Israel that must stay in our hands,” Regev said.
According to Regev, the Jordan Valley is the “safety belt” on the eastern border.
Eight ministers on the committee, all from the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu or Bayit Yehudi, voted in favor of the bill, while Hatnua and Yesh Atid ministers opposed.
Livni, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Health Minister Yael German said they would submit an appeal of the vote.
“It’s no secret that the towns in the Jordan Valley have tremendous importance in terms of defense and strategy…Ultimately, we have a responsibility to the citizens of Israel,” Regev declared.
“Not every round of negotiations has to end with land concessions and forcibly evacuating Israeli towns,” she added. “If this continues, eventually we’ll end up with just central Tel Aviv.”