Netanyahu to Bolton: Any Palestine deal ‘must include’ Israeli presence in Jordan Valley

Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Sunday toured the West Bank with John Bolton, said he will listen to US peace proposals – but added that “any future agreement” with Palestine must guarantee an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.

Footage posted on Sunday showed Israel’s prime minister and the US national security adviser overlooking the Israeli-occupied area from an aircraft and on the ground, with Netanyahu seen giving Bolton an excursion.

Speaking English on camera standing next to Bolton, the PM rammed the message home that Israel will not be leaving the area under any deal, saying it ensures “the minimal strategic depth and strategic height for the defense of our country.”

Netanyahu was also adamant that the Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley “guarantees stability and security for the entire region,” and that the IDF leaving the occupied Palestinian lands would result in “war and terror.”

Israel will study US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan in “a fair and open manner,” Netanyahu said, a day after White House senior adviser Jared Kushner presented the economic part of the deal.

He made known his bewilderment at the Palestinian reaction to the proposal, saying “I can’t understand how the Palestinians rejected the plan before even hearing what it is in it.”

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Bolton appeared to be supportive of Netanyahu’s stance, saying that “it’s too bad… that more Americans can’t come to locations like this, see the geography, understand its significance, understand how it affects Israel’s critical security position, and explain why Israel has taken the view that it has.”

The Trump administration’s plan, which offers $50 billion-worth of investments in Palestine and neighboring Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, was unveiled by Kushner on Saturday. It claims to lead to the creation of a million jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, which would allow the Palestinian GDP to double in just a decade. However, the so-called “opportunity of the century” would only present itself when and if a political settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians is reached.

A special conference, at which the Americans will discuss the project with Arab states said to be its main donors, is scheduled to take place mid-week in Bahrain. Neither Palestinian nor Israeli government delegations will be attending the event.

Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the Six-Day War in 1967. It has maintained a firm grip on the land since then, despite the UN decrying the occupation as illegal in numerous resolutions. The Israelis have been building Jewish settlements, establishing military zones, evicting Palestinian villagers and restricting their movement, all while cracking down harshly on attempts at protest.

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