Jordan Valley settlers hail Netanyahu annexation pledge

Within the Jordan Valley within the West Financial institution, Israeli settlers are celebrating after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced plans to annex the area.

“I used to be excited. I didn’t sleep at evening,” mentioned David Elhayani, mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council which represents native settlers.

Late Tuesday Netanyahu introduced that if he wins September 17 parliamentary elections he’ll annex the important thing space instantly.

The area makes up round 1 / 4 of the West Financial institution.

David Elhaiini, mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council Arvot HaYarden settlement speaks to AFP at his workplace within the West Financial institution on September 11, 2019 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Round 45,000 Palestinians reside there, together with fewer than 10,000 Israelis. The areas outlined by Netanyahu embrace some 30 settlements, and although the prime minister has mentioned no Palestinians shall be annexed, 48 Palestinian villages with a complete just below 9,000 residents are in the marked area.

Sitting with a plate of dates, one of many foremost merchandise from the area, Elhayani informed how he moved to the realm in 1983, aged simply 23 on the time. “There was nothing,” he mentioned.

Tuesday’s announcement was “not a complete shock,” he mentioned.

For months there have had inklings that US President Donald Trump’s lengthy delayed peace plan was prone to take into account the Jordan Valley a key space for Israel’s safety, permitting Netanyahu to pledge to annex it, he mentioned.

“We can not do something with out the People.”

Trump has been a agency supporter of Netanyahu since he took workplace within the White Home in 2017.

His administration is predicted to lastly reveal an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, drawn up by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, after subsequent week’s elections.

The Arvot Hayarden settlement the place the Jordan Valley Regional Council municipality is positioned within the West Financial institution (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP)

However the Palestinians have refused to take care of Trump’s authorities, accusing it of pro-Israel bias.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas additionally condemned Netanyahu’s Tuesday announcement, saying if he annexed the Jordan Valley it could imply an finish to all peace agreements signed with Israel.

‘Extra eyes on the bottom’

A desert area within the valley alongside the Jordan River, the Jordan Valley stretches 85 kilometers (some 50 miles) alongside the Jordanian border.

Virtually all of it’s already beneath full Israeli management, which argues it’s crucial for its safety.

Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem says 56 p.c of the area is reserved for navy use.

Palestinian Bedouin properties are seen within the within the Jordan Valley of the West Financial institution, on September 11, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

“Safety and settlements go collectively,” mentioned Elhayani.

“When there’s a tractor there may be one other eye” to watch the realm, he mentioned.

Some 70 p.c of native settler households work in agriculture, which additionally employs 6,000 Palestinians on daily basis, he mentioned.

The principle produce is dates.

Additional north, within the village of Jiftlik, Palestinian Mohamed Abu Saada reveals off his dates cupped within the palm of his hand — brown and oval able to be packaged.

“The very best dates on this planet!”

Palestinians work in a date packaging firm owned by a fellow Palestinian within the Jordan Valley village of Jiftlik within the West Financial institution on September 11, 2019 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Enterprise is nice and he plans to broaden the plant, the place 40 individuals work within the cool of the warehouse.

“No person helped us right here, whether or not Israelis or Palestinians, nothing,” he mentioned, displaying off the manufacturing facility’s new extension.

‘Already beneath Israel’

Any growth within the overwhelming majority of the Jordan Valley already wants an Israeli license, which might be extraordinarily tough for Palestinians to acquire.

In line with B’Tselem, 85 p.c of the land within the valley is already inaccessible to Palestinians.

A Palestinian employee harvests dates within the Jordan Valley village of Jiftlik within the West Financial institution on September 11, 2019 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

“Israel has handled this space as whether it is its personal for 52 years,” mentioned Roy Yellin, the group’s public relations director.

However Palestinian Mohamed Abu Saada is assured Netanyahu’s threats are mere election rhetoric.

The Israeli chief is in a detailed and viciously-fought marketing campaign to take care of his management when the nation goes to the polls for the second time this 12 months on September 17.

Netanyahu “is not going to do something, he has by no means accomplished something, he’s simply doing it for the elections,” the 69-year-old mentioned.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks earlier than a map of the Jordan Valley, vowing to increase Israeli sovereignty there if re-elected, throughout a speech in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

If the realm did turn out to be a part of Israel, he can be involved.

“Once I enterprise out of my land, I’m afraid to exit. We’re beneath occupation, and it’ll be worse,” he mentioned.

Slightly additional, on the entrance to the Palestinian village of Marj Ghazal, nestled in a dusty hill overlooking palm plantations, Jalal Abu Jarrar has not too long ago opened a service station.

Like different elements of the realm, he mentioned, “typically now we have water, typically we don’t, the identical with electrical energy.”

“And but, it’s higher than earlier than once we had solely salt water,” the 30-year-old with curly black hair and vivid smile mentioned.

“Nevertheless it’s already like we’re in Israel. What’s going to vary? We’re beneath whole Israeli management, there’s nothing new.”