While touring the Jordan Valley region Thursday, the senior cabinet minister warned that as Israel’s target date for withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria grows closer, terror organizations are becoming increasingly stronger.

Netanyahu also said that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is not taking any serious steps to root out the terrorist infrastructure, disarm terrorists or bring an end to the current state of anarchy in PA-controlled areas.

Netanyahu, himself a former prime minister and future contender against Sharon to lead the Likud party, also said the Jordan Valley would never be included in any Israeli withdrawals. “The Jordan Valley will stay under Israel’s control forever,” Netanyahu said. “It is the eastern defensive shield of Israel…. We will not return to the ’67 borders, which were indefensible.”

Some disconcerted residents noted that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made similar comments about Jewish communities in Gaza during his last election campaign only to turn around once he took office and order their removal.

The head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, Duby Tal, told Arutz-7 that Netanyahu promised he would bring a number of proposals to the cabinet in the coming weeks that would greatly assist the development of the Jordan Valley and allow for renewed building in existing communities. “We want actions, though, not statements,” Tal said. “Up to now, government offices ignore us, and the time has come for a change.”

“In every aspect which is under my authority, I will give as much help as I can toward developing the Jordan Valley,” Netanyahu assured residents.

Any proposal for further development in the Jordan Valley must be approved by the entire cabinet, in accordance with coalition agreements.

Asked if building in the Jordan Valley would not inflame the world against Israel, the Finance Minister answered: “We don’t need to worry about ‘what the world will say’ – we must do what is good for us, for the State of Israel. Like Gush Etzion [south of Jerusalem –ed.] and other areas, the Jordan Valley is important to the State of Israel. The moment we delineate the area of the Palestinian Authority, the Jordan Valley will be our eastern defensive shield.”