Dr. Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise to annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank could exacerbate the situation in the region.
“The planned publication of Netanyahu’s and [US Ambassador David] Friedman’s plan on the eve of the [Knesset] elections [to be held on March 2] will give the green light to the annexation of the Jordan Valley and the shores of the Dead Sea. Then Netanyahu will say: ‘I got Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Jordan Valley, vote for me.’ The consequences are not important, let the Middle East burn up in exchange for Netanyahu’s success in the elections,” Erekat said in a statement.
In November, following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that Jewish settlements in the West Bank were not illegal, Netanyahu, who is struggling to remain in power after several inconclusive elections, has publicly promised to extend his country’s sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, located in Area C.
The Oslo II Accord, signed in 1995, divided the West Bank into Areas A, B, C. Area A is under Palestine’s complete civil and military control. Area B is under Palestinian civil control but Israeli military control. Area C is under full Israeli civil and military control.
Area C accounts for over 60 percent of the West Bank, according to the United Nations, with some 150,000 Palestinians and over 350,000 Israeli settlement residents living there. The UN considers Israeli settlements in the occupied land illegal, saying that they are being built at the expense of Palestinian communities.