Israeli lawmaker to propose bill to annex Jordan Valley area of West Bank
The strip along the Jordan River would give Israel full control of the border between the West Bank and Jordan
An Israeli lawmaker is planning to introduce legislation to annex the Jordan Valley, an eastern strip of the West Bank that is home to roughly 30 Jewish settlements.
Knesset Member Amb. Danny Danon is looking to propose the bill, which would make the area, which runs along the Jordan River from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, part of Israel proper. The region is part of what is known as Area C of the West Bank, which means it is already under Israeli control, but its residents live under Israeli military law.
As it is not currently an official part of Israel, Israeli criminal law and some civil laws have only applied to its residents under an emergency measure that had to be renewed every five years since Israel took control of the West Bank in 1967. That measure expired in June 2022 but was eventually renewed on Tuesday. Danon’s bill would make it so that this would no longer have to be done.
"All aspects of the sovereignty of the State of Israel will apply to all areas of Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley, including the industrial areas that serve them, the archaeological sites in the area and the access roads to these areas," says a draft of the bill obtained by Fox News Digital.
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The bill applies to the areas covered by the Jordan Valley Regional Council (which includes 22 settlements), the Dead Sea Scrolls Regional Council (seven settlements), and the Ma'ale Ephraim Local Council (one settlement), as well as ten communities located near the valley. Those communities are Kochav HaShahar, Rimonim, Ma'ale Machmesh, Mitzpe Hagit, Neve Erez, Nofei Prat, Anatot, Kfar Adumim, Mitzpe Jericho, and Migdalim.
"The Jordan Valley is of great importance to the State of Israel - historically, security-wise and economically," an explanatory note for the bill says, noting that its location -- situated between Jordan and Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank – make it "Israel's eastern security belt." Its annexation was first proposed in a plan the by then-Minister of Labor Yigal Alon after the 1967 Six Day War during which Israel took control of the West Bank.
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The bill is sure to anger the Palestinians and their leadership, as an annexation under the bill would be a unilateral move taken without any existing agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Fox News reached out to Danon's office regarding this, but he was not available at the time.
The official designation of the West Bank territories of Judea and Samaria as being parts of Areas A, B, and C – each with its own level of Israeli or Palestinian control – came about from 1995's Oslo II Accords, which at the time was meant as a temporary measure until a final two-state agreement could be reached.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been vowing for years to annex the Jordan Valley. In 2020, he stressed its significance in giving the Jewish state some breathing room in between Arab neighbors.
"This is the eastern defensive wall that guarantees that we will never again be a mere few miles wide," Netanyahu said, according to The New York Times.