Netanyahu renewed his pledge to extend “Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.”
By Associated Press
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed a vow to annex Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria as the embattled leader kicked off a third election campaign in under a year on Tuesday.
Addressing Likud Party supporters at a campaign launch event in Jerusalem, Netanyahu promised to “impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” then pledged to annex all Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria “without exception.”
Israel captured Judea and Samaria in the 1967 Six-Day War along with the Gaza Strip, in addition to reuniting Jerusalem. The Palestinians seek to take those territories from Israel as part of a future state.
Netanyahu had previously called for the annexation of the Jordan Valley ahead of September’s repeat parliamentary elections. The region remains crucial to defending the country’s eastern flank and represents the “biblical heartland” for many Jews throughout the world.
The Jordan Valley makes up around a quarter of Judea and Samaria and is the territory’s agricultural center.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office said in a statement that the calls to annex areas of Judea and Samaria “undermine the foundations of the peace process” and regional stability.
The U.S. has not commented on Israel’s stated intentions to annex the region.
Israel faces an unprecedented third parliamentary election in under a year on March 2 after Netanyahu twice failed to form a governing coalition after April and September’s votes.
Earlier on Tuesday, Gantz said his party would “work toward establishing sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and we will do so based on national agreement and in coordination with the international community.”