Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that he would annex all Israeli settlements, the Jordan Valley, and the northern Dead Sea area of the occupied West Bank if he wins Israel’s general elections next week.
During a press conference Netanyahu vowed to “extend sovereignty” to all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, effectively annexing swaths of land where more than 190 settlements have been built in contravention of international law.
“I want from you a clear mandate to place Israeli sovereignty on all the settlements,” he says, seemingly addressing voters in the upcoming election.
In addition to annexing all West Bank settlements, Netanyahu vowed to annex the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, saying it was a place “that can have sovereignty immediately applied to it after the elections.”
Here's the map of Netanyahu's proposed annexation. It would essentially slice off the entire eastern edge of the West Bank and mean Jericho is a Palestinian island inside Israel territory.
Very hard for anyone to pretend Two States is still viable if this happens. pic.twitter.com/lfJp2PutW7
— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) September 10, 2019
According to B’Tselem, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea constitute almost 30% of the West Bank, and “serves as the Palestinians’ most significant land reserve.” It is home to some 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 settlers.
Channel 13 reporter Barak Ravid, who broke the news that Netanyahu would be announcing annexation plans, tweeted that Israeli officials told him that “Netanyahu updated the White House today about the content of his statement” prior to the press conference.
Israeli officials tell me Netanyahu updated the White House today about the content of his statement
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 10, 2019
During his speech, Netanyahu referenced President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan, which is set to be released days after the Israeli election, saying he would wait until the release of the plan to begin annexation procedures “out of respect for President Trump and out of great faith in our friendship”
Netanyahu also said the Deal of the Century would create a “historic opportunity” for annexation of the West Bank.
“As much as it is possible, I want to apply sovereignty in the communities and other areas with maximum coordination with the U.S .,” he said. “But there is one place where it is possible to apply Israeli sovereignty immediately after the election. If I receive a clear mandate to do so from you, the citizens of Israel. “
Throughout his speech, Netanyahu continued to ask supporters for votes, saying “this is a democracy. I won’t do anything without a clear mandate.”
“So I’m asking for a mandate, to do this thing that enjoys a broad consensus, to define at long last Israel’s permanent borders, promising that Judea and Samaria don’t turn into Gaza. This map defines our eastern frontier. We haven’t had this kind of opportunity since the  Six Day War, and may not have it against for another 50 years,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu has made continuous calls for annexation of the West Bank since the April election cycle, when just two days before the election, he said he would move towards annexation if re-elected.
“A Palestinian state will endanger our existence and I withstood huge pressure over the past eight years, no prime minister has withstood such pressure. We must control our destiny,” he said at the time.
Just last week, Netanyahu gave a speech in a West Bank settlement, saying he “aspires to apply Israeli sovereignty all Jewish West Bank settlements.”
Netatanyahu’s speech on Tuesday sparked a flood of reactions from both supporters and opponents.
Even before Netanyahu spoke to the press, the settler chief of the Jordan Valley regional council, David Elhayani, thanked the premiere for a “historic moment for the State of Israel.”
“After 11 years of serving [as council head], which were filled with fear for the future of the Valley, this is one of the most important and exciting moments I have experienced,” Elhayani said, according to the Times of Israel.
Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman mocked Netanyahu’s “dramatic announcement” on Twitter with several laughing emojis.
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) September 10, 2019
Netanyahu’s chief opponent in the race, Benny Gantz, tweeted a photo of a fidget spinner toy with Netanyahu’s face photoshopped in the middle, saying “In a word — a spinner.”
במילה אחת – ספינר. pic.twitter.com/BvhrXWhEbd
— בני גנץ – Benny Gantz (@gantzbe) September 10, 2019
Prior to the press conference, Gantz’s Blue and White party and the Democratic Camp filed a petition with the Central Elections Committee to delay the broadcast of the announcement on the grounds that it constituted illegal electioneering.
Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, called Netanyahu’s promise of annexation “delusional” and an “election ploy”, pointing out that the premiere has “opposed annexation for years,
The group continued, saying annexation “will bring us closer to an apartheid state,” and that Netanyahu “is willing to sell out all our futures, and send a message to Israel’s citizens, to the Palestinians, and to the whole world that his political survival means continued bloody conflict and the collapse of our democracy and any chance for peace.”
More stats on the Jordan Valley, where Netanyahu claims he will annex. pic.twitter.com/75620Zo8g4
— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) September 10, 2019
While many critics have cracked Netanyahu’s statements up to no more than pre-election propaganda and a bid to gain more votes with the Israeli far right, Palestinians and their supporters displayed a much more somber tone in their reactions to the announcement.
Palestinian MK and Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said on Twitter that the announcement was “not just an election spin.”
“The right-wing apartheid vision consists of two parallel steps:
1) Erasing the civilian status of the Arabs in Israel
2) Annexation of the territories
They do not want to make the West Bank part of Israel, they want to make Israel an extension of the West Bank. A minority of Jewish citizens who control a majority of Palestinian subjects without rights.”
Secretary General of the PLO Saeb Erekat took to Twitter to condemn Netanyahu’s statements, saying “if prime minister Netanyahu is allowed to implement his plans of annexation, he would have succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Barak , as I expected you were right . If prime minister Netanyahu is allowed to implement his plans of annexation , he would have succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.The Israeli , the international community must stop such madness .
— Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) September 10, 2019
“The Israeli, the international community must stop such madness,” Erekat continued, adding that he lives in the Jordan Valley. “He wants my grandchildren to be confined within walls,” Erekat said.