Trump to Netanyahu on Jordan Valley annexation: ‘Not now’

A senior Israeli official says the U.S. seemed concerned that an Israeli announcement now could give the impression that Netanyahu was “preempting” the Trump peace plan.

By World Israel News Staff 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been told by the Trump administration that an Israeli move now to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley could “damage” U.S. efforts to advance the president’s peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Channel 13 and Axios correspondent Barak Ravid had reported at the beginning of the week that President Donald Trump was about to decide whether the long-awaited plan should be made public in the coming weeks, or if he should wait even a bit longer until after the March 2 Knesset election.

Kan public broadcasting subsequently reported that Netanyahu wanted to coordinate the move to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area with Washington. As Israel has held two parliamentary elections over the past several months and now heads to a third, the incumbent prime minister had pledged to voters on a number of occasions that he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the region.

“The answer we received was ‘not now,'” an Israeli official told World Israel News (WIN).

“Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening,” says Ravid in his report on Axios, which was based on U.S. and Israeli sources.

“We were told that it could damage the chances of a positive public response in the Arab world, especially in Jordan, to the plan’s publication by the U.S. president if it immediately followed an Israeli announcement on imposing sovereignty in the Jordan Valley,” an Israeli official told WIN. Israel captured the territory from Jordan in the 1967 war after Arab military forces had amassed on the Jewish State’s borders.

The official, a senior aide in the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the U.S. administration seemed concerned that an Israeli announcement now could give the impression that Netanyahu was “preempting” the peace plan instead of keeping the spotlight on Trump as “the author of a deal of the century.”

In addition, Israel has been led to believe, says the Jerusalem source, that Washington views the Jordan Valley as a sensitive issue in consultations with Jordan’s King Abdullah and that the alliance with the kingdom is of great importance to U.S. officials.

The source said that Netanyahu agrees with the American position on the importance of Jordan’s role in the process. Israel has been at peace with Amman since signing a treaty with the kingdom in 1994.

Asked whether the planned visit to Israel this week by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner was called off due to Netanyahu’s proclamation on annexing the Jordan Valley, the Israeli official assessed that the official reason of poor weather conditions in Switzerland making it difficult for Kushner to travel from the World Economic Forum in Davos to Israel was genuine, but that “I’m not sure that he’s not pleased to have an excuse not to come.”