Abbas Says Jordan Valley Annexation 'A Red Line'
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared Monday that an Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley would be a "red line" as far as he is concerned.
Abbas told the Bethlehem-based Arab Ma'an News Agency that "the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank is a 'red line' for the Palestinians, in spite of Israeli plans to annex it."
"That land (in the Jordan Valley) is ours, and will remain Palestinian land," elaborated Abbas. "Everyone needs to know that this is a red line which can not be crossed."
In his comments, Abbas mirrored his words from Monday night during celebrations over the release of 26 terrorist murderers.
The PA Chairman's statement refers to a vote on Sunday by Israel's Ministerial Committee on Legislation in favor of a bill to annex the region.
Opposition to the bill came fast and thick.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced she would appeal the vote, adding that she wants Israel to be liberal instead of nationalistic. President Shimon Peres similarly said the vote was "a statement only," and that the region was to be decided on in peace talks.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the vote on Sunday, and went further on Monday in declaring that peace talks have failed and the PA should go to the UN unilaterally to seek statehood recognition.
The Israeli bill calling for annexation was initiated in response to plans proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, which reportedly demand an Israeli withdrawal giving full control of the region to the PA in several stages over a period of ten years.
Kerry's team has reportedly begun preparations for a diplomatic "offensive" in January to force the plan on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. However, a recent poll by Hebrew University's Truman Institute reveals that Israelis and PA Arabs alike oppose US pressure in the peace talks.
Abbas has already rejected the plan, rejected the concept of an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley or in a future Palestinian state in general, called an urgent meeting of the Arab League in which they rejected the plan as well, and refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.