Likud Grapples With Jordan Valley Annexation Issue

YERUSHALAYIM -

With  Secretary of State John Kerry due to arrive on Wednesday, the Likud took up the issue of the proposed Jordan Valley annexation during a meeting Monday held to discuss the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, Arutz Sheva reported.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon made clear his unequivocal support for annexation.

“The Jordan Valley is a part of the state of Israel, and whoever thinks otherwise apparently is in the wrong party,” he declared.

Kerry is said to be fixed on a plan to implement a phased Israeli withdrawal from the Valley over a period of 10 years or more. He reportedly will try to force Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to accept the idea, and to induce Israeli generals to convince a skeptical Israeli public that it would be safe.

“The Likud position on the topic is clear,” said Danon. “We must stand decisively and not recoil from the American pressure, we must remember always that our role is to ensure the security of the state of Israel.”

Earlier, on Sunday morning, Netanyahu had maneuvered to quash the bill, on the grounds that could be perceived as provocative and harmful to Israel’s diplomatic position, Haaretz reported.

A minister in the committee said that though Netanyahu did not ask his party members to vote against the bill, he argued that the issue of annexation should not be raised at this time, when peace talks remain inconclusive.

In the event, the bill passed the committee by a vote of 8-3.

An appeal on the committee vote by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri may force a revote.