Netanyahu with Jordan Valley sovereignty map
Netanyahu with Jordan Valley sovereignty mapFlash 90

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has frozen plans to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, Yediot Aharonot reported Tuesday, after the International Criminal Court announced last Friday that it would investigate Israel for alleged war crimes in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

According to the report, Netanyahu nixed a planned meeting of an inter-ministerial team charged with handling the proposed application of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

Sources told Yediot that the meeting had been slated to take place over the weekend, but was cancelled after the ICC announced it would probe Palestinian Arab allegations of Israeli war crimes in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza – including claims against Israeli towns beyond the pre-1967 Green Line.

In September, Netanyahu announced that if re-elected, he would apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley – Israel’s eastern border – making it the first territory since 1981 to be placed under Israeli sovereignty, and the first part of Judea and Samaria to be added to the sovereign State of Israel since the summer of 1967.

The strategically critical and relatively sparsely populated area forms much of the border between Israel and Jordan, and has long been considered an important security asset for Israel.

On Friday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that the ICC would investigate alleged Israeli “war crimes”.

The ICC reportedly cited Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley annexation plans in its decision to open the investigation.

"Netanyahu's annexation announcements before the September elections were mentioned in the ICC prosecutor's decision as one of the causes for an investigation against Israel" Israeli political commentator Barak Ravid wrote over the weekend.

"Here is what the prosecutor wrote in article 177: 'Despite the clear and enduring calls that Israel cease activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory deemed contrary to international law, there is no indication that they will end. To the contrary, there are indications that they may not only continue but that Israel may seek to annex these territories. Numerous reports reflect concerns of a potential de jure annexation. In August and September 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex large parts of the West Bank if re-elected.'"

On Monday, Netanyahu appealed to Likud party members, vowing to gain US recognition for Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria if reelected.

"No Prime Minister has stood up to the pressures I have faced. They wanted us to retreat and for me to uproot and I said to them: ‘No. This is our country. Not only will we not leave it, but we will establish ourselves in it.’ I will promote a move for American recognition of our sovereignty throughout the settlement enterprise," Netanyahu said.