The New Arab / October 4, 2023
Jewish settlers are campaigning for the annexation of the Jordan Valley. Palestinians say Israel-annexation is already a fact on the ground.
According to a campaign launched by settlers last week, the Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley is “a national consensus” and called upon the Israeli government “to annex” the strategic Palestinian region.
Signs have been installed on main Israeli-only roads and roads that Palestinians are allowed to use in the Jordan Valley, voicing the settlers’ demand to declare the area a part of the Israeli state. Israeli social media accounts have expressed the same slogans, especially on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“We have been seeing these signs in various areas of the Jordan Valley in recent days, at the same time that settlers’ violence has been ramping up against Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley”, Fares Fuqaha, a human rights activist and resident of the Ain al-Baida Palestinian village in the northern Jordan Valley, told The New Arab.
“Last week, settlers physically attacked farmers in the village of Al-Dyouk, only one kilometre outside of Jericho, and there is not a single day without a settler attack on Palestinian livestock or other property”, said Fuqaha.
“It seems like some settlers feel emboldened by the current conditions, especially the impunity they enjoy and the Arab normalization accords“, noted Fuqaha.
“Of course, the Israeli government’s policy in the Jordan Valley has made the annexation an unannounced fact”, he remarked.
“Settlements’ expansion and the protection of settlers’ violence has forced many Palestinian families to leave their lands or stop cultivating them, while at the same time, the landscape around us looks more and more Israeli”, he added.
The Jordan Valley represents 30% of the West Bank’s surface. All of it except the urban area of the city of Jericho is classified as ‘Area C’ by Israel, where Palestinians are forbidden to build under the threat of Israeli demolition.
In late September, Israeli forces demolished a family’s house in the village of Nueimeh, north of Jericho, leaving 11 people homeless, including eight children. Israeli forces also demolished a livestock barrack and a chicken coop belonging to the family.
In mid-September, Israeli forces demolished two houses under construction in Beit Dajan, in the north-central Jordan Valley, and in late August, Israeli forces destroyed two homes in Ain al-Dyouk, near Jericho, leaving 14 people homeless, including six children.
The Jordan Valley is “of strategic importance for the Israeli plans of colonization in the West Bank”, Khalil Tafakji, a Palestinian expert in Jewish settlements, told TNA.
According to the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – OCHA, Israeli forces demolished 460 Palestinian structures in ‘Area C’, including in the Jordan Valley, since the beginning of 2023.
“The region contains the best agricultural lands, most of the resources and the entire border with Jordan, which the Israeli government treats as its eastern border”, explained Tafakji.
“The current Israeli strategy is to isolate the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank through settlement expansion, which can be noticed through the expulsion of Bedouin communities from the eastern slopes of the West Blank’s central hills”, said Tafakji.
“However, the Israeli government is unlikely to announce an annexation of the Jordan Valley officially, but instead is more probably to continue the colonization process and impose these new facts on Palestinians in a future agreement”, he added.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley was an election promise of Binyamin Netanyahu in 2020. Ever since, it has been a common campaigning point of the Israeli right and far-right wing in Israeli politics.
Qassam Muaddi is TNA’s correspondent in the West Bank