JERUSALEM, Israel – Less than a week before national elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu riled the United Nations, Arab League, and others with a campaign pledge about his plans for biblical Judea and Samaria.
In a campaign speech to his Likud party, Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley and the northern part of the Dead Sea.
"Today I am announcing my intention to apply, with the formation of the next government, Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea."
The Palestinian Authority considers this part of the West Bank where it wants to establish a future state.
Netanyahu said he also has plans for Israeli communities in the rest of biblical Judea and Samaria.
“This is a historic opportunity, a one-time opportunity, to extend Israeli sovereignty on our settlements in Judea and Samaria, and also on other important regions for our security, for our heritage, and for our future,” Netanyahu said.
President Trump is expected to roll out his Israeli-Palestinian “Deal of the Century” after the elections. Netanyahu vowed to annex the areas after the peace plan is revealed.
“Out of respect for President Trump, and out of great trust in our friendship, I will wait to impose Israeli sovereignty over all the settlements until after the presentation of the president's diplomatic plan,” explained Netanyahu.
The United Nations said unilateral actions would not be helpful to the peace process.
“Such a prospect would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace, and the very essence of a two-state solution," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General.
Saudi Arabia condemned the move as a ‘serious escalation’ and the Arab League held an emergency meeting.
“The council is considering this announcement a serious development and a new Israeli aggression through its intention to violate international law, the UN Charter and the concerned resolutions of the international legitimacy,” said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
During his speech, security whisked Netanyahu out of the room after sirens sounded when terrorists in Gaza launched two rockets at Ashkelon and Ashdod where he was speaking.
Netanyahu later returned to finish his speech.
Meanwhile, Israelis have a few more days to decide which one of the more than 30 political parties they’ll vote for.
“I’m not sure yet about which I’m going to decide but for now it seems like I’m going to go with Blue and White,” Yoav, an Israeli voter, told CBN News.
“Bibi of course. Only Bibi, we have a saying here: ‘Only Bibi. I really don’t think that anyone else can take Israel to better places right now,” said Jonathan, an Israeli voter.
Polls show that Likud and the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz are virtually tied. Following the election, the hard part begins with the “winner” working to pull together parties to form a coalition government.