Photo: Flash90

Netanyahu: Israel won’t annex West Bank unilaterally

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed confidence that U.S. President Donald Trump will follow through on his pledge to officially recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, as well as Jewish communities in the West Bank biblical districts of Judea and Samaria.

While participating in a tree-planting ceremony commemorating the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat (Arbor Day) at the Mevo’ot Yericho (“Doorway to Jericho”) Israeli community near the western bank of the Jordan River, the Premier adamantly rejected harsh demands from Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and several settler leaders to extend the nation’s sovereignty immediately; irrespective of warnings from Washington over Israel’s annexation aspirations.

After first hailing the many triumphs under the governance of his administration with the Trump White House, the Israeli leader vowed the disputed areas of the nation’s ancient homeland will indeed formally become Israeli territory as part of a specific process, which he said is already underway. “After we brought the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and after the transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem, and after the recognition of our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and after the recognition of the legality of settlement in Judea and Samaria – we brought the declaration of President Trump, which says unequivocally that he will recognize the application of sovereignty, the application of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley, in the northern Dead Sea and in all of our communities in Judea and Samaria, all of them, without exception, and in a wide area around them,” said Netanyahu. “This does not depend on Palestinian consent to what is called the Trump Plan, the ‘Plan of the Century,’” he underscored, explaining that it is “due on the completion of the mapping” of the areas by a joint American-Israeli team.

Netanyahu declared that Israel will not undertake any unilateral actions without the consent of the U.S., before pointing to Trump’s record of following through on commitments he has made to Israel. “Just as President Trump upheld his promise about Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the embassy, the legality and the withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement — I helped a little with that when I sent the Mossad to Teheran to bring the documents, I brought them to the White House, nuclear documents from the secret Iranian warehouse and President Trump said: ‘That’s it; I’m leaving’ and he left. He said: ‘I will recognize Jerusalem’ – he recognized it. He said: ‘I will move the embassy’ – he moved it. He said: ‘I will recognize the Golan Heights, with sovereignty’ – he did. He said: ‘I will recognize the legality of settlement’ – he did. Now he is saying: ‘I will recognize the application of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and over all of the communities and additional areas’ – and he will do this too, as soon the work, that we are in the midst of, is completed.”

“We are making an effort in a continuing struggle here, but we never gave in, never, and we never will,” vowed Mr. Netanyahu, who is competing in the third round of Israeli elections on 2 March, hoping to secure an unprecedented fifth term in office, underscoring, “We are here, and here we will remain, a part of the State of Israel.”