JERICHO, West Bank – The chief Palestinian negotiator says Israel's claim to the Jordan Valley in the West Bank is driven by economic interests, not security.
Saeb Erekat on Thursday took foreign diplomats and reporters on a tour of the valley which borders Jordan.
The Palestinians view the sparsely populated area as the breadbasket of their future state, while Israel considers it a security buffer.
Negotiations on the terms of a Palestinian state resumed last month. Palestinian officials say Israel proposed to keep control of the valley for 40 years after their state is established.
Erekat says Israeli farming settlements in the valley earned more than $600 million last year. He says that even if Israel claims it wants to stay 40 years, it will "stay another 400 years with such a profit."