Israel’s plans to annex the occupied Jordan Valley have been frozen following the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to launch a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, reports Ynet News.
The first Israeli ministerial team meeting to discuss the plans for annexing the Jordan Valley, scheduled to take place last week, was cancelled last minute due to concerns that it could intensify confrontation with the ICC.
“Because of the prosecutor’s decision in the Hague, the issue of the Jordan Valley annexation will be put on a long hold,” an Israeli government source told Yedioth Ahronoth.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate in the Palestinian Territories and yesterday branded it anti-Semitic.
On Friday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes, opened in 2015, had rendered enough information to meet all criteria for opening an investigation.
Bensouda also included in her recommendation that Israel has not only failed to stop settlement construction in the West Bank, the Jewish State also intends to annex some parts of the territory.
Before the ICC announcement, Netanyahu on Thursday pledged to secure support from the US for the annexation of the Jordan Valley and illegal settlements built in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Approximately 70,000 Palestinians, along with some 9,500 Jewish settlers, currently live in the Jordan Valley, a large, fertile strip of land that accounts for roughly one-quarter of the West Bank’s overall territory.
Palestinians call for the Israeli occupation authorities to completely withdraw from the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, to make way for a future Palestinian state.
Israel is considering preventing the entry of officials from the ICC to the Palestinian territories, similar to steps taken by the US administration which refuses to grant entry visas for ICC employees investigating American soldiers who participated in the war in Afghanistan.