ICC Prosecutor 'Concerned' About Israeli Proposals to Annex Jordan Valley

In annual report, prosecutor warns against applying Israeli sovereignty on parts of the West Bank, which Netanyahu said he would do if reelected

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
Netanyahu, Bolton and Friedman touring the Jordan Valley, June, 2019.
Netanyahu, former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman touring the Jordan Valley, June, 2019.Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda expressed concern on Thursday over Israeli proposals to annex the Jordan Valley.

The prosecutor has followed "with concern proposals advanced during the recent electoral process, to be tabled to the Knesset, for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank," it said in its 2019 report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke earlier this week about the possibility of Israel annexing the Jordan Valley, the premier said on Monday.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, August 2019. Credit: Reuters

Netanyahu said that the conversation was "very important" for Israel's security and added that the two leaders "talked extensively about historic opportunities we have ahead of us in the coming months." Among them, Netanyahu said, was recognizing the Jordan Valley as Israel's eastern border.

Netanyahu has vowed to annex the Jordan Valley ahead of Israel's previous two elections, in September and in April.

A week before the September do-over election, Netanyahu made an eleventh-hour promise to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea. Trump's peace plan, the prime minister said, would provide a "historic opportunity" for annexing the West Bank and other areas. The announcement was roundly decried by the international community, the Arab League and Jewish groups.

Members of Kahol Lavan, headed by Benny Gantz, have also voiced support of annexing the Jordan Valley, but said that it should be coordinated with the international community.

During a tour of the Jordan Valley, Gantz said that the area will be part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians. “The valley is the State of Israel’s eastern protective wall and will always remain under our control,” said Gantz, who called the valley “of vast strategic importance.”

The ICC report also discussed Israel's policy in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, devoting seven pages to the Palestinian issue.

“The office has collected pattern data concerning over 200 incidents which resulted in the death of demonstrators by live fire and other means used by the IDF, and analyzed in greater detail several such incidents, which resulted in the death of children, medical workers, journalists and disabled individuals," the report says.

"The office has also collected and analyzed information on the use of incendiary kites and balloons by demonstrators and possibly members of PAGs and their impact on the Israeli territory and population. The office has further noted allegations that members of Palestinian Armed Groups made use of civilians as shields and of child soldiers during the demonstrations. These as well as any other alleged crimes that may occur in the future require further assessment,” the report adds.

"While the situation has been under preliminary examination for almost five years and has benefitted from meaningful and constructive engagement with both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities," the report concludes, "the prosecutor also believes that it is time to take the necessary steps to bring the preliminary examination to a conclusion."

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