JERUSALEM (JTA) – Benny Gantz said that following national elections in March, he will work to establish Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley “in coordination with the international community.”
“We would like to reiterate that the Jordan Valley serves as the eastern border of the State of Israel in all future scenarios,” Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White alliance, which garnered the most votes in the last election, said on Tuesday during a visit to the area.
“Past governments that have discussed returning this land have made a grievous security and strategic mistake. We see this land as an integral part of the State of Israel,” he said.
Gantz said that until Israel has sovereignty, it would continue to cultivate the Jordan Valley and ensure its development, agricultural and physical infrastructure, settlement and tourism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who previously has called for annexation of the Jordan Valley, responded immediately to Gantz, his rival for the prime minister post.
“Why wait until after the election if we can apply sovereignty over the Jordan Valley right now with broad consensus in the Knesset?” Netanyahu tweeted.
The prime minister then reiterated in a meeting with leaders of West Bank region of Binyamin region that he would extend Israeli sovereignty over all West Bank settlements.
Gantz responded on social media: “Bibi, first we’ll deliberate immunity and afterwards we’ll manage applying sovereignty.” He was referring to Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution from the Knesset on corruption charges in three criminal cases against him.