No, Benjamin Netanyahu Didn’t Just Promise to “Annex” Part of the West Bank

Sept. 13 2019

In a speech on Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister sparked outrage from all the usual quarters when he declared his intention to “apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.” As Erielle Davidson points out—and contrary to what most of the media have reported—he nowhere used the word “annexation.” Netanyahu, Davidson adds, was likely responding to the accusation made against him by his main political competitors—the center-left Blue and White party—that he had considered relinquishing control of the Jordan Valley in 2014. And there are grave reasons why this area matters:

In addition to legal arguments buttressing Israeli claims to territorial sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, there are strategic reasons Israel might seek to apply its sovereignty over the region. [The] Jordan Valley, along Israel’s eastern border, is quite literally all that stands between Israel and the remainder of the Middle East. [It] has long been central to those aware of Israeli security issues, for the region is commonly used by jihadists to infiltrate Israel’s borders and to smuggle weaponry. Some have argued that the Jordan Valley could resemble Gaza if proper vigilance isn’t exercised.

Additionally, Israeli control over the region would ensure a buffer between Israel’s enemies and its most populous regions.

[Moreover], the Jordan Valley has almost no Palestinian population, meaning that applying Israeli sovereignty would not result in the “annexation of Palestinians.” [And] while some decry Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to build illegal settlements in Area C of the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords, which stipulate that no construction can take place in Area C without the approval of the Israeli Civil Administration. . . . In some ways, Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley promise represents a necessary pushback against the PA’s activities in Area C.

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Read more at Federalist

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, West Bank


What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics