The Palestinian Authority moved the location of its weekly cabinet meeting to a village in the Jordan Valley in protest over the Jordan Valley annexation bill, which won preliminary support from a ministerial panel this week but is opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Palestinian government meeting will be held in the village of Ein al-Beida inside the Jordan Valley in response to Israeli actions targeting the region,” Palestinian National Economy Minister Jawwad Naji told the Turkish Anadolu Agency ahead of the meeting on Tuesday.
The move was meant as a reminder to the Israeli government of Palestinian claims to the area, Fawwaz Aqil, the secretary-general of the Palestinian cabinet, told the independent Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
“All cabinet ministers will go to the Jordan Valley and study the needs of Palestinian citizens there to support them so they can remain firm on their lands,” he said.
During the meeting, officials approved a budget increase of $15 million to strengthen the local Palestinian villages, Ynet reported.
The Jordan Valley bill, sponsored by Likud MK Miri Regev, pushes for placing the Jordan Valley area under Israeli law, effectively annexing it.
The area currently has the legal status of a captured territory administered by the IDF. While the bill passed by an 8-3 margin in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, it is unlikely to become law.
The bill met with condemnation from both senior Palestinian and Israeli lawmakers — including Netanyahu, who is expected to veto the bill, and justice minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni.
Palestinian officials slammed the proposal for undermining the peace talks. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Maan that the bill highlighted Israeli “indifference” to peace efforts.
On Tuesday Naji, the Palestinian national economy minister, warned that should the bill pass, it was liable to lead to “the collapse of peace talks and US [peace] efforts in the region.”