Israeli PM Netanyahu reiterates pledge to annex Jordan Valley
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday reiterated his pledge to annex Jordan valley in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu's comments came during a Cabinet meeting held in the Jordan valley for the first time since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.
"We will apply sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea as soon as the next government is established," the Israeli prime minister said.
He added that he has appointed a work team, headed by the director of the Prime Minister's Office, "to formulate an outline for applying sovereignty".
Netanyahu went on to assert that he will impose Israeli sovereignty to all settlements in the occupied West Bank.
"All of these things will come up in the Deal of the Century, which will come very soon after the elections." He said.
Following the meeting the Cabinet also approved Netanyahu's proposal to establish a new settlement in the territory.
Roughly 70,000 Palestinians, along with some 9,500 Jewish settlers, currently live in the Jordan Valley -- a large, fertile strip of land that accounts for roughly one-quarter of the West Bank.
Israel claims the valley is vital to its security and has consistently rejected the notion of relinquishing any part of it in any future settlement with the Palestinians.
Earlier this week, Netanyahu, appealing to his voters ahead of polls slated for Sept. 17, said: "I announce my intention to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, if the Israeli citizens elect me."
Some 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians see these territories, along with the Gaza Strip, as integral for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
International law views both the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Jewish settlement-building activity there illegal.