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January 22, 2020 1:16 pm

Report: Trump Administration Opposes Israeli Annexation of Jordan Valley Before Peace Plan Unveiling

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington DC, March 5, 2018. Photo: Haim Zach / GPO.

The Trump administration is opposed to an Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley before the long-delayed unveiling of its peace initiative, according to an Axios report on Wednesday.

The report — authored by Israeli Channel 13 journalist Barak Ravid — came after comments made in recent days by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his top rival, ex-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, advocating such a move.

Citing unnamed US officials, Ravid said the Trump administration “has made its position clear to the Israeli government, and Netanyahu is aware that the US doesn’t want Israel to take any unilateral steps before the peace plan is published.”

Ravid further noted, “It is still unclear when the US peace plan will be presented. US officials say Trump is expected to announce his decision in the next few days.”

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Israel’s Kan public broadcaster quoted on Wednesday sources in Netanyahu’s Likud party as saying that the prime minister wished to bring the issue to a vote in the Knesset as soon as possible and was seeking a “green light” from the Trump administration.

“This position by the White House reduces dramatically to [sic] chances of that happening,” Ravid pointed out on Twitter.

The Jordan Valley has long been viewed by a wide swathe of the Israeli populace as a part of the West Bank that should be retained in any potential peace agreement with the Palestinians. Israel took control of it, along with the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley during the run-up to last September’s Knesset elections, but the inconclusive outcome put off the plan indefinitely. The proposal was generally considered a sop to right-wing voters whose support Netanyahu wished to retain in a tough election fight.

The issue arose again this week, however, when Gantz endorsed annexation as well.

Gantz said the Jordan Valley must remain part of Israel in “any future scenario.”

“Governments that previously discussed the possibility of giving it back were gravely mistaken,” he asserted. “We consider it an integral part of the State of Israel, and after the elections we will work to annex the valley in coordination with the international community.”

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