Israeli Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and Shin Bet Chief Nadav Argaman banned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from pledging to immediately annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, political sources in Tel Aviv revealed Friday evening.
The Israeli PM decided to hold the regular cabinet session on Sunday in a settlement in the Jordan Valley.
Sources said that Netanyahu took his decision in this regard after realizing his chances of winning the election were slim. The Israeli PM intended to announce this during a press conference last Tuesday, with his bureau reporting that he would be delivering a “dramatic” statement.
However, the conference was delayed one hour and a half, to figure out later on that a screaming match occurred between Netanyahu and Israeli security leaders who warned him of the consequences of this step.
This pushed him to back off, and announce his intention to take a decision to annex the Jordan Valley in case he wins the elections and forms the government.
Security officials referred to the fact that such an announcement implies irresponsibility since it would lead to huge risks – Shin Bet and the army shared the same stance.
This step would have political and security implications leading to blocking ties with the Palestinian Authority, warned security officials – they presented possible unfavorable scenarios of the immediate annexation of Jordan Valley to Israel without a full US support.
Officials tackled the critical situation of Jordan's King Abdullah II, considering that this step would jeopardize his ruling and lead to abolishing Israel-Jordan peace agreement.
The Israeli PM said to two newspapers, he had “persuaded Trump to recognize Jerusalem as our capital, move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, recognize our sovereignty in the Golan, get out of the horrible Iran deal and now I’m doing the same thing vis a vis the Jordan Valley, but also all the settlements inside and outside the blocs. This is crucial.”
Meanwhile, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom collectively condemned Netanyahu's Tuesday announcement that Israel would annex a third of the West Bank if he was re-elected.
The five European powers issued a statement on Thursday saying the move to bring the Jordan Valley and the area north of the Dead Sea under Israeli sovereignty would be a "serious breach of international law."
They were "deeply concerned," the statement said, adding that they would "continue to call on all parties to refrain from actions in contravention of international law which would imperil the viability of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 lines." They concluded by renewing their "commitment to Israel's security," condemning "recent attacks on Israel from Gaza".