Abbas’s office fumes at Netanyahu, Gantz for pledging Jordan Valley annexation
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Abbas’s office fumes at Netanyahu, Gantz for pledging Jordan Valley annexation

PA president’s office says statements by Israeli leaders ‘undermine the foundations of the peace process,’ calls on international community to oppose them

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Fourth National Forum for the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the forum's opening session in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 9, 2019. (Nasser Nasser/AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Fourth National Forum for the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the forum's opening session in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 9, 2019. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office blasted both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, on Tuesday over comments they made vowing to applying Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

“Such statements totally undermine the foundations of the peace process — sending the region into a dangerous new phase of conflict and instability,” Abbas’s office said, according to the official PA news site Wafa.

Netanyahu vowed Tuesday evening to apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley as well as every settlement in the West Bank “without exception.” Since September, the prime minister has frequently said that if he succeeds in forming a new government, he will annex the area.

Gantz had promised earlier in the day, while visiting the Jordan Valley, to apply sovereignty over the territory “in coordination with the international community.”

Netanyahu’s Likud and Gantz’s Blue and White party are competing against each other in the upcoming national elections on March 2. Both of them appear to be making the comments about applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley to curry favor with right-wing voters.

The overwhelming majority of the international community has long opposed Israel applying its sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and called for the advancement of a two-state solution.

A composite photo showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Blue and White party chief, Benny Gantz, right, speaking separately at a media conference in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Jordan Valley, where 10,000 settlers and 80,000 Palestinians reside, makes up nearly 30 percent of the West Bank. Jewish settlers and Palestinians farm the area, growing fruits and vegetables.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has long called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, comprising the Jordan Valley, the rest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Abbas’s office also called on the international community “to stand firmly against these Israeli positions that threaten security, stability and world peace.”

Nickolay Mladenov, the special UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, on Wednesday expressed apprehension about Israel taking such a step, tweeting that it would “deal a devastating blow” to the two-state solution.

The PA president has previously stated that if Israel applies sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the Palestinians would cancel all of their agreements with the Jewish state while continuing to fight terror.

The Palestinians have signed a number of agreements with Israel outlining security, economic and other forms of cooperation between the two sides.

“If you annex it, there will be no relationship between us and all of you. We will cut all ties and cancel all agreements regardless of what these agreements are,” he said in a meeting on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in September 2019, adding, “We will preserve one thing… I will continue to fight against terror and preserve international legitimacy.”

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