Netanyahu vows to annex Jordan Valley 'immediately' if re-elected

Netanyahu vows to annex Jordan Valley 'immediately' if re-elected”

Israel's prime minister on Tuesday vowed to annex the strategic heartland of the West Bank if he wins national elections next week, offering a vision that would likely end any remaining hopes for establishing a Palestinian state. Ehud Barak, a former prime minister who is campaigning to oust Netanyahu, said the prime minister "has no public or moral mandate to determine things so fateful to the state of Israel".

"I will annex settlements in cooperation with Donald Trump's Administration", Netanyahu stated. Who will be the next prime minister of Israel?

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett has more from West Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu's announcement was widely seen in Israel as a pre-election stunt created to win over Right-wing voters and many questioned whether he would seriously follow through with it.

The West Bank territory has been at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 52 years.

A view shows Palestinian houses in the village of Ein Yabrud with the Jewish settlement of Ofra seen in the background, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on September 3.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu's annexation plan is "manifestly illegal".

"The Palestinian territory is not part of Netanyahu's election campaign", said Shtayyeh.

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Palestinian leaders responded with a statement, warning him of involvement in the region.

Netanyahu's announcement also came with immediate reaction from the opposing Blue and White Party.

Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life in a closely-contested election, reaffirmed a pledge to annex all Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, but said such a move would not be made before publication of a long-awaited USA peace plan and consultations with President Donald Trump.

Explaining the importance of annexing the Jordan Valley, Netanyahu said it was the eastern border of Israel. "Netanyahu was the one who drafted a plan to waive the Jordan Valley in 2014".

Netanyahu previously promised to annex Israeli settlements in parts of the West Bank, ahead of his April general election and mentioned action again earlier this month, according to Reuters.

The move, if it actually went ahead, would fundamentally redraw Israel's borders and force the global community to ask whether there was any possibly of a Two State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu also revealed that Trump's Middle East peace plan would be announced the day after Israel's election.

The announcement comes 12 days after the USA special envoy for Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, stepped down.

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