Israeli officials, Palestinians both blast Jordan Valley vote

Dec. 30, 2013 at 5:30 AM   |   0 comments

JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Israeli and Palestinian officials criticized an Israeli legislative committee vote to annex the Jordan Valley, saying it could destroy chances of peace.

The vote was regarded as mostly symbolic and would have to be aproved by the Knesset and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who would be expected to kill the proposal, officials said.

Eight members of the ministerial legislative committee voted Sunday to annex the Jordan Valley in a bid to prevent a full Israeli withdrawal from the area in any future peace agreement, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Palestinians contend the Jordan Valley should be theirs in any negotiated two-state solution.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a peace negotiator; Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri all said they would appeal the committee's vote.

The control of the Jordan Valley has been a sticking point in peace negotiations. Netanyahu has said Israel must maintain a military presence there for security reasons. Palestinians have rejected an American proposal calling for continued Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley for 5-to-10 years.

"This is an irresponsible bill and those who support it are irresponsible. It is a proposal that harms the State of Israel and isolates it. It is also designed to harm the government, because this is a matter of government policy and not [the subject] for a private bill," the Post quoted Livni as saying.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was among others who criticized the proposal.

"The international community must hold Israel accountable for this latest step. This government of settlers, for the settlers and by the settlers is succeeding in destroying the chances of a negotiated two-state solution," the Palestine News Network quoted Erekat as saying.

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