JERUSALEM (Rahnuma): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area of the occupied West Bank has left Palestinian development planners in disarray.
The threat, if implemented, will rule out the two-state solution as a political concept, and have serious implications for a Palestinian state’s viability with regard to water, agriculture, natural resources and tourism.
Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday that if he is returned to office in the Sept. 17 election, he will “immediately” extend “Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.” The Jordan Valley accounts for about one-third of the West Bank.
Opinion polls indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud party is neck and neck with the opposition Blue and White party, and may struggle to form a coalition. His controversial pledge could get him the backing of right-wing parties.
Jad Ishaq, director-general of the Applied Research Institute, said the land that Netanyahu referred to in his televised speech accounts for a big chunk of the West Bank.
“From the standpoint of Palestinian agriculture, this is the breadbasket,” Ishaq told Arab News.
Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
The main Palestinian city is Jericho, with about 28 villages and smaller communities.
Ishaq, who advises Palestinian officials, said Netanyahu’s threat if carried out, would kill off the possibility of a viable Palestinian state.