Mohammad Shtayyeh, Palestinian Prime Minister_flash90Photo: Flash 90

Palestinians decry Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley pledge

In what was declared as “a defiant response” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared intention to annex the West Bank district of the Jordan Valley – if he ultimately wins today’s national parliamentary elections; The Palestinian Authority held its weekly cabinet meeting in the disputed territory, at the direction of President Mahmoud Abbas. During his opening remarks, P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh vowed that “we will do everything we can to strengthen our people’s steadfastness on our land, and to make the Palestinian Jordan Valley the vegetable and fruit garden of Palestine.”

The Palestinian Prime Minister threatened that if his Israeli counterpart attempted to follow through with his pledge to eventually assert sovereignty over all of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank,  P.A. will respond in kind by taking steps to extend its own sovereignty over all of the disputed territories– a reality that would inevitably lead to a further escalation. These sentiments seem to be aligned with some of the residents of the Jordan Valley, who declared it an inseparable part of the lands of so-called Palestine. Mussab Hmed told Reuters “We can’t let go of the (Jordan) Valley,” adding “Just like we want Jerusalem, we want the valleys. Just like we want Ramallah, we want Nablus, the valleys are the same, they are very important to Palestine, they are the borders with Jordan. We and Jordan are brothers, siblings, half of us Palestinians are in Palestine, and half of us Palestinians are in Jordan.”

It is important to note that not all Palestinians hold that same position. Some local Arab residents of the Jordan Valley insist that the reality on the ground has already determined Israel to be the sole sovereign over the disputed territory.  As Tayseer Njum told the news agency, “Israel is the one who sets the law here; and in general, I consider the occupied Palestinian cities that our cousins the Jews are enjoying, or the West Bank where we live and kill time in, are all under Israeli control.” He then stated that even “Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t defy them, nor does anyone else,: reiterating that “They have full sovereignty.”