Pressure building up for Israeli sovereignty over Jordan Valley – and soon

Both Opposition and coalition members are proposing Knesset bills on the issue.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Pressure is being felt, both politically and among civilians, for Israeli sovereignty to be declared over the Jordan Valley – and soon.

Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, who returned to the Likud bench in the Knesset in the last election, has already prepared a bill for the legislature to consider.

“The annexation of the Jordan Valley is a significant issue for Israel from a historical, economical as well as, crucially, a security perspective,” Danon said. “We know that there is support for the application of Israel’s sovereignty of the Jordan Valley, both in the government’s coalition as well as in the opposition.”

“I am optimistic that many MKs on both sides of the aisle will voice their support. There is no better time to apply sovereignty, and we must join forces to do so imminently,” he said.

On Tuesday, former finance minister Avigdor Liberman, who heads the opposition Israel Beiteinu party, officially offered the Knesset an updated version of a Jordan Valley sovereignty bill that his faction had pushed before the March 2020 elections.

Former defense minister Benny Gantz, chief of the opposition National Unity party and then-head of the now-defunct Blue and White, also voiced support at the time for applying sovereignty over the eastern border regionl.

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Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his intention to extend Israeli law to at least portions of Area C in Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan valley – especially before the March 2020 election – he told USA Today ahead of the most recent national vote that he would not make such a move unilaterally.

“I would not, because I would like to do it with the understanding and support of the United States,” he said in the exclusive interview.

The Biden administration has made it clear that it opposes any such action on Israel’s part.

There is also a civilian-led campaign gaining steam to formally include the Jordan Valley in sovereign Israel. The Sovereignty Movement, led by Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, supports anyone from whichever party who works to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria.

The Movement’s youth members have begun collecting signatures of high school and university students in a petition to the prime minister. The initative was launched immediately after Netanyahu criticized a UN resolution last month calling on the International Court of Justice in The Hague to weigh in on the legal consequences of the Israeli ‘occupation‘ of Judea and Samaria.

“The Jewish people are not conquerors in their own land, and they are not conquerors in their eternal capital, Jerusalem. No United Nations decision can distort this historical truth,” Netanyahu stated.

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The petition, quoting his words, called on Netanyahu and the government “to respond as soon as possible with the necessary political step of applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley as a first step that enjoys a broad national consensus.

“In that way you will provide a response to the United Nations’ manipulation and help realize the historical truth that this is our country.”

The petition to date has over a thousand signatures, with more being gathered every day.

Speaking to World Israel News by phone on Wednesday on her way to lobby in the Knesset for the new law, Katsover stressed the need to act now.

“The Jordan Valley is our longest border that has to be protective wall of the country. As long as there is no sovereignty, it’s a problem,” she said.

“Very few Arabs live there, so absorbing them will not change anything demographically for Israel. And there is large consensus in the country for this.”

Furthermore, “Netanyahu said he was in favor of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in past elections, and in the former government, Sharren Haskel of the New Hope party proposed a bill for it,” she noted.

In a survey published last year by the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), a lion’s share of Jewish respondents (67%) said they support application of Israeli sovereignty over all of Area C of Judea and Samaria. In fact, 26% of the Arab respondents answered positively, bringing the average to a 58% majority. The Jordan Valley constitutes 30% of the region.

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