The Jordan Valley, which accounts for almost a third of the occupied West Bank, “will be under Israeli sovereignty”, according to the long-delayed plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unveiled by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined Trump for the announcement of the plan, has been adamant that the Jordan Valley falls under full Israeli control and become an important part of its eastern border.
The pledge has formed a key part of his re-election campaign ahead of Israel’s parliamentary vote scheduled for March 2, the third national poll in less than a year, as Netanyahu seeks to shore up support among his right-wing electoral base.
His main rival Benny Gantz has made a similar pledge to annex the Jordan Valley as a part of his campaign, although with the added caveat that any such move would be done “in coordination with the international community”.
Neighbouring Jordan has warned Israel over the unilateral annexation of the territory.
The Jordan Valley is a fertile strip of land that stretches from the north of the Dead Sea along the eastern perimeter of the West Bank, bordering Jordan. It is home to 65,000 Palestinians in 28 villages and 11,000 Israelis, who live in settlements constructed illegally.
According to the plan released by Trump, a future Palestinian state would be separated from the Jordanian border by Israeli territory. Currently, the Allenby/King Hussein bridge over the River Jordan is the only border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley would also separate the future Palestinian state from the River Jordan, which forms the West Bank’s eastern border with Jordan. The river feeds over 80,000 hectares (197,684 acres) of agricultural lands and fish farms.
Israel aleady controls the region militarily, which allows it to divert the river’s waters to illegal settlements in the West Bank.