Netanyahu Announces Plan to Annex Parts of Occupied West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Tuesday to annex a large section of the occupied West Bank should he win reelection next week.

“Today, I announce my intention, after the establishment of a new government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said on Israeli television.

The 927-square-mile Jordan valley comprises about 30 percent of the West Bank, which Israel captured during the Six Day War in 1967.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called Netanyahu “a prime destroyer of the peace process” in remarks shortly before Netanyahu’s announcement.

Netanyahu is facing a tough reelection vote September 17. Shortly thereafter, President Trump is expected to release his Middle East peace plan, which “poses a great challenge for us and a great opportunity, a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank and other areas of importance to our heritage,” the Israeli prime minister said.

“We haven’t had such an opportunity since the Six Day War, and I doubt we’ll have another opportunity in the next 50 years,” Netanyahu said. “Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders.”

The Trump administration has appeared amenable to Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and has tentatively supported Netanyahu’s plan.

“Under certain circumstances,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in June, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,” Friedman said. “These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”

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