Israel passes bill to annex part of Jordan Valley

Jerusalem, Dec 30: Israel Sunday passed a bill to annex Jewish settlements in the Palestinian Jordan Valley to be an official part of the Jewish state.

The bill, passed by Ministerial Committee for Legislation of Israel, still needs to be approved by the Knesset (parliament). It counters the US proposal for security arrangement in the Jordan Valley and threatens to thwart the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, only a week before US Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive at Israel in a fresh bid to push forward the peace talks, Xinhua reported.

Chairwoman of the Committee, Tzipi Livni, who is also Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians, defined the bill as ” irresponsible”. She said “this bill would harm the State of Israel and isolate it,” and she will appeal the decision.

Israel occupied the Jordan Valley, around one third of the West Bank, in the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians accuse Israel of intensive exploitation of the land and water resources of the Jordan Valley, to a greater extent than elsewhere in the West Bank, making it annexed de facto to the State of Israel.

They have reportedly rejected the US proposal to allow a continued Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley under a peace deal.

IANS