In a speech on Friday morning, December 27, far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed his “final and sweeping” victory in the Likud primary on Thursday, thanking US President Donald Trump and vowing to bring US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over its West Bank settlements — a move tantamount to annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.
Addressing supporters a day after he easily defeated main challenger Gideon Sa’ar with over 70% of the vote for party leader, Netanyahu touted his close relationship with Trump, thanking the leader of US imperialism for his “historic decisions” since coming to power: recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; transferring the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear agreement; recognizing Israel sovereignty in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights; and shifting US policy to one no longer viewing the establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
Netanyahu further promised to drive “more historic achievements” in the coming years in the event of a victory in the forthcoming March 2 national elections and laid out a six-point plan that would include US recognition of sovereignty in the occupied Jordan Valley as well as in Israel’s West Bank settlements.
“First, we will finalize our borders; second, we will push the US to recognize our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea; third, we will push for US recognition of our extension of sovereignty over all the communities in Judea and Samaria, all of them without exception; fourth, we will push for a historic defense alliance with the US that will preserve Israel’s freedom of action; fifth, stop Iran and its allies decisively; and sixth, push for normalization and agreements that will lead to peace accords with Arab countries,” Netanyahu said.
During his political campaign leading up to last April’s elections, Netanyahu pledged to gradually apply Israeli law to West Bank Jewish settlements and said he hoped to do so with US support. Shortly before that vote, the US president had made his declaration backing Israeli control over the Golan Heights, and during his campaign before the September elections, Netanyahu said he would annex the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank if he were re-elected.
However, “Because of the [ICC] prosecutor’s decision in the Hague, the issue of the Jordan Valley annexation will be put on a long hold,” an Israeli government source told Yedioth Ahronoth last week. This followed the December 20 announcement by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda that her office is going to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine in relation to Israeli crimes against the occupied Palestinian people, among them its failure to stop settlement building in the West Bank and its intention to formally annex some parts of the occupied territory. Israeli sources said Bensouda’s announcement has led to a decision by Netanyahu’s government to, for the time being, implement a “deep freeze” on any such plans for an annexation of the Jordan Valley,