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Coalition rejects bill to extend Israeli sovereignty in Jordan Valley despite Netanyahu's campaign promise last year

Party politics, more than the bill's content, seems to be the issue

A view of the Jordan Valley, Feb. 11, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

A bill proposed by “Israel Our Home” (“Yisrael Beytenu”) party head Avigdor Liberman to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, was rejected by the majority of Knesset coalition members. 

“The Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea region represent the broadest national consensus,” said Liberman before the vote. 

After the vote, Yisrael Beytenu Chairperson Oded Forer rebuked the coalition.

“The speed with which you ran away from your commitment is rivaled only by the speed with which [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu ran away from his promise to apply sovereignty to the Valley,” Forer stated. 

Just last month, an event was held calling for Israel to declare sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Coalition representatives and the organizers noted that both Netanyahu and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz have spoken out in favor of applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. 

In 2019, Netanyahu made a campaign promise to swiftly apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley if elected. His comments were quickly dismissed by political opponents who also support Israeli sovereignty in the area. They noted at the time that Netanyahu could apply sovereignty via a Cabinet decision, as was done with the decision to apply Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. 

The current vote appears to be more a political ploy by both sides. Liberman, who favors Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, announced on Monday his plan to propose the bill. 

“These areas enjoy a very broad national consensus, going back decades,” he said, adding that part of his motivation for seeking to apply sovereignty is related to security concerns. 

”This area is of great strategic importance, especially given the recent rise in terrorist activity in the Jericho and Jordan Valley area,” Liberman said.  However, he also predicted that Netanyahu’s coalition would not support his bill based on precedent. 

“In the past, when I was in the opposition, I told Netanyahu to submit a bill and we would support it. But this government is all talk and no action,” he said. 

In the beginning of January, Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, announced that he was drafting a plan to apply Israeli sovereignty to the region. At the time, both the Yisrael Beytenu and the National Unity party indicated they would support the bill. 

Danon compared the expected political uproar over the bill to be similar to what happened when Israel applied sovereignty over Jerusalem, saying Israel will “deal with it, just like we dealt with the struggle over the [move] of the embassy to Jerusalem.” 

Danon said it is common knowledge that Israel plans to keep the territory in any final settlement. 

“There is no harm to any possible negotiated settlement because everyone knows this area will stay under Israeli sovereignty,” he said. 

After last night’s vote, Likud Knesset Member Dan Illouz, who heads a lobby to implement sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, called the vote an attempt to “troll the system.” 

“Instead of trying to troll the system, I invite Liberman to join the moves we are promoting in the lobby so that, in the end, we can bring about the application of actual sovereignty and not just empty statements,” Illouz said. 

Liberman and his Yisrael Beytenu party said they would resubmit the bill, noting a similar coalition bill which not progressed since its announcement in January. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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