Topping off annexation pledge, PM moves to legalize Jordan Valley outpost

Speaking at Knesset hearing , Netanyahu says he will submit decision to regulate wildcat community of Mevo’ot Yeriho for ministerial vote on Sunday

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

The Jordan Valley outpost of Mevo'ot Yeriho in 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)
The Jordan Valley outpost of Mevo'ot Yeriho in 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he will submit for cabinet approval a proposal to retroactively legalize a wildcat outpost in the Jordan Valley, a day after he vowed to annex the entire area if he wins next week’s election.

Ministers will vote and likely pass the motion to legalize Mevo’ot Yeriho at their Sunday meeting, just two days before Israelis go to the polls for an election that could see him ousted from power.

Mevo’ot Yeriho is one of 16 illegal Israeli outposts located on the map that Netanyahu used to illustrate which land he plans to annex from the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea areas.

Roughly 300 national-religious Israelis reside in the outpost, north of the Palestinian city of Jericho. It was founded in 1999 by settlers who set up wildcat agricultural concerns on the land.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement, promising to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area, in Ramat Gan on September 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

On Tuesday, Netanyahu vowed to immediately annex the entire Jordan Valley, excluding the city of Jericho, if given another term as prime minister. He also said he would begin work on annexing settlements across the West Bank.

No cabinet decision would be necessary to legalize Mevo’ot Yeriho once it has been annexed.

While the international community considers all settlement activity illegal, Israel differentiates between legal settlement homes built and permitted by the Defense Ministry on land owned by the state, and illegal outposts built without necessary permits, often on private Palestinian land.

The Jordan Valley outpost of Mevo’ot Yericho in 2017. (Screen capture/YouTube)

Speaking at a Knesset hearing Wednesday, Netanyahu called the proposal “a continuation of [his] sovereignty declaration” and claimed “this is what the public wants us to do.”

“The only way to implement the policies I announced and to prevent the theft of elections is to come in droves to the polls,” said the prime minister.

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