The Palestinian Authority cabinet held its weekly meeting Tuesday in the Jordan Valley village of Ein al-Beida, two days after Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill to annex the valley’s settlements. The authority would not cede control and sovereignty in the Jordan Valley to Israel under any circumstances, the ministers said. The cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah
In a statement after the meeting, the cabinet announced that 15 million shekels ($4.32 million) would be invested in infrastructure and agricultural projects in the Jordan Valley, in addition to preparing tens of thousands of dunams of agricultural land and assisting farmers to buy tractors. The statement also called on Arab and donor countries to support the PA’s economic and political policies, so as to implement the decisions as soon as possible.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said on Tuesday that his country's position has always been, and would remain, that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are Palestinian, intended for the independent Palestinian state whose capital is East Jerusalem. The Palestinians attribute great significance to the Jordanian position.
Jordan has yet to state a position on the future of the Jordan Valley, despite recent United States pressure on all parties to agree to an Israeli security presence in the area following an agreement. A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat demanded that the Jordanians make their position clear on the matter during a recent meeting in Washington with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
Haaretz has learned that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the negotiating team have been holding numerous consultations over the past few days ahead of planned meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the end of the week. Palestinian officials said the handling of the negotiations came in for harsh criticism at a meeting of the Fatah Central Committee this week and it was even suggested that the PA turn to the United Nations. However, Abbas said he would stand by his obligation to Kerry to give the negotiations nine months.