Trump’s ‘peace plan’ gives the go-ahead to Israel’s biggest land grab in decades

Palestinians occupy the roof of a building during a protest on the Dead Sea coast
Tom Anderson

Donald Trump’s ‘plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ is catastrophic for Palestinians. One major problem is that it gives the green-light to Israeli politicians’ long-held plans to annex the Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley, which includes the Dead Sea region, makes up a third of the occupied West Bank. Last year, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to annex the majority of the valley – roughly 23% of the West Bank.

If the plans go ahead, the seizure of the Jordan Valley will be the Israeli state’s biggest land grab since its 1981 annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Annexation plans

Israeli politicians have long been planning to annex the valley. In September 2019, The Canary reported:

In 2013, right-wing Israeli politicians voted for a symbolic motion calling for an annexation of the valley to the state of Israel.

The plans for annexation were given a prime ministerial stamp of approval in a press conference by Benjamin Netanyahu in September 2019. He threatened to annex the valley… saying:

Today I’m announcing my intention, with the establishment of the next government, to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.

Trump’s stamp of approval

Trump’s proposals show the Israeli state may be moving closer to carrying out its plans. Even before Trump and Netanyahu’s press conference on the plans this week, Israeli politicians have been emboldened to make statements promising to annex the valley.

Before the release of Trump’s plans, the Israeli military moved more troops into the valley in anticipation.

However, there may be a little more time to oppose the proposals, as reports say that the White House has told Netanyahu to take things more slowly.

A rich agricultural area

The Jordan Valley is a fertile area – the bread-basket of the West Bank.

Israel took control of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, by military force in 1967. Since then, Israeli colonists have been establishing lucrative agricultural settlements in the valley, taking advantage of the fertile land and oppressed Palestinian workforce. There are now almost 50 Israeli colonies in the Jordan Valley, and nearly 13,000 Israeli settlers along with 65,000 Palestinians.

At the same time, Palestinian communities have been subject to military occupation. Israeli state policies have the intention of pushing Palestinians out of the valley’s rural communities, making more space for the ever-expanding Israeli colonies.

Exploiting the lucrative Dead Sea region

The Israeli annexation plans include the Dead Sea region. It’s an important tourist attraction, a fertile date-growing region, and a lucrative source of minerals used by the cosmetic and chemical industries.

After the military occupation of 1967, Palestinian Bedouin communities were pushed out of the Dead Sea coastal region to make way for Israeli settlers to make a profit from date farming, tourists swimming in the Dead Sea, and the Dead Sea cosmetics industry.

Netanyahu’s annexation plans represent the next phase of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and land grabbing in the area.

Harassing communities

The Palestinian communities of the Jordan Valley have been subjected to continual harassment and home demolitions. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem:

From January 2013 through September 2017, the military compelled various communities throughout the Jordan Valley to vacate their homes 140 times.

And according to the Shoal Collective:

Israel’s demolition policy ensures that Palestinian communities can’t expand, leaving the land empty, and ready to be grabbed by the Jordan Valley’s expanding colonial settlements.

During 2018, regular home demolitions took place in the Jordan Valley in communities including Bardala, Ibziq, Fasayil al-Wusta, Al-Auja, Furush Beit Dajan, Al-Jiftlik and Al-Hadidya.

Israel’s annexation plans will only serve to amplify the Israeli state aggression against the Jordan Valley’s communities.

Grassroots resistance

Palestinians have already mobilised against the planned annexation. According to one commentator on Twitter:

In Bethlehem:

And in Gaza:

International solidarity

In 2018, the Israeli state’s plan to destroy the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar was averted through a combination of Palestinian grassroots resistance and international pressure.

If the people of the Jordan Valley are to successfully resist the annexation, they will need a massive show of international solidarity. We need to stand with comrades in the Jordan Valley by supporting the right of Palestinian communities to exist there, despite Netanyahu and Trump’s plans.

Featured image supplied to the author by an International Solidarity Movement activist

Get involved

  • Read about the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid.
  • Check out the Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign.
  • Read about the campaign to boycott agricultural products from the Jordan Valley settlements.

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