Netanyahu weighs cabinet, Knesset vote on Jordan Valley annexation soon

Netanyahu weighs cabinet, Knesset vote on Jordan Valley annexation soon

21/01 - 18:26 - Issue of Jordan Valley and Dead Sea sovereignty could now come to a vote at the cabinet Sunday and the Knesset Tuesday, even though there is an interim government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing bringing the matter of Jordan Valley annexation to the cabinet and the Knesset next week, according to a Likud source.Netanyahu hinted as much during a campaign rally in Jerusalem on Tuesday night, when he spoke standing next to Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani.

“We’ll apply Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea without delay and without any veto by [Joint List MK] Ahmad Tibi,” Netanyahu said.

At one point he graphed Elhayani’s hand and held it up high.

Netanyahu had pledged during the summer, right before the last election, to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. He opted against doing it immediately after it was clear that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit had frowned on such a move during the time of a transitional government.

Instead, Netanyahu said he would unilaterally apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area immediately upon formation of a government and to follow that with the application of sovereignty to all the West Bank settlements.

It was a pledge he repeated at a Likud rally in “It’s not just that we won’t uproot any settlements. It’s not just that we won’t evacuate anyone. We will apply Israeli law on all the settlements, all of it!” Netanyahu said.

He is under pressure from the New Right party headed by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.

On Monday, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (New Right) wrote to Netanyahu to ask if he would take such a step. He suggested that the vote could be held in conjunction with the anticipated immunity vote, expected to be held next week.

Bennett on Tuesday night welcomed news that the matter could be moving forward.

“I am pleased that Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s initiative is gaining momentum,” said Bennett, adding that “I expected it will be brought up [for a vote] at the earliest opportunity.

“There is a narrow window of opportunity to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley,” Bennett said. “It’s a time for action and not words,” he said.

Elhayani said he believed that a vote could be held next week.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.