Middle East Monitor / March 19, 2020
The ruling Likud party has submitted a bill for approval by the Knesset to annex the occupied Jordan Valley, the North Dead Sea area and the Hebron Desert, Israel Hayom reported on Wednesday. A second bill was also submitted which, if passed, would reintroduce the death penalty for Palestinian political prisoners.
According to the newspaper, the head of the Likud bloc in the Knesset, Micky Zohar, said that the two bills are intended to “embarrass” Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Gantz was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin to form the government and he was endorsed by Lieberman and Arab MKs.
“Let’s see this wonderful cooperation between the Joint List [the of Arab MK bloc], Yisrael Beiteinu and Blue and White,” mocked Zohar. This was apparently a reference to the condition insisted upon by the Joint List for its backing of a Gantz-led government coalition over the issue of Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley.
Former Defence Minister Lieberman, of course, is no friend of the Palestinian community in Israel, which he has described as a “fifth column” and “enemies” of the state. He once called for the heads of Palestinian political prisoners to be chopped off, but he has now agreed to be part of a political alliance that will depend on support from Arab MKs, who could never support the bills proposed by Likud.
“We will see how they will work together with those who work against the state,” said Zohar. “Shall we see them [Gantz and Lieberman] oppose this legislation in order to please their new friends from the Joint List?”