Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel will never abandon the settlements in the Jordan Valley.
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"The Jordan Valley will always remain a part of Israel. We will continue to settle it, invest in infrastructure and tourism," he said during a speech at a ceremony marking 50 years of Israeli settlement there.
"The Middle East is unstable and violent. The valley is a strategic defensive belt for the country, and without it the fundamentalist flood could reach the interior, up to Gush Dan. Thus, our eastern defensive line starts at this place. If we won't be here, Tehran and Hamastan will be here. We won't let that happen."
Regarding the Jordan Valley settlements, Netanyahu said Israel will never abandon them "because they are of utmost security importance to Israel." He said: "The Middle East is unstable and violent. The valley is a strategic defensive belt for the country, and without it the fundamentalist flood could reach the interior, up to Gush Dan. Thus, our eastern defensive line starts at this place. If we won't be here, Tehran and Hamastan will be here. We won't let that happen."
“This entire area should be a lever for international cooperation,” he added. “An area of peace, growth and prosperity for all the peoples of the region.”
He also mentioned Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan, adding, “On both sides of the Jordan [River], I see green. We’re settling and planting; they’re building and planting. This is precisely the place where we can expand regional cooperation.”
Over the past few months, Netanyahu has attended several events to mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s capture of the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War. Last month, at a ceremony in the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, he said, “There will be no more uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel – neither Jewish nor Arab.”
“This isn’t just a question of ties to the homeland,” he added on that occasion. “First and foremost, that isn’t the way to make peace.
“It’s not peace we got when we uprooted settlements; we got terror and missiles,” he continued, referring to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. “Therefore, we won’t repeat this.”
“Every area that falls into the hands of radical Islam becomes a base for destruction, violence and death,” he added. “Therefore, we won’t abandon our national home to danger.”