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Trade war outcomes are hard to predict, but politicians are not




What will Palestinians lose if Israel annexes Jordan Valley? | Palestine News



The Jordan Valley, which accounts for almost a third of the occupied West Bank, “will be under Israeli sovereignty”, according to the long-delayed peace plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who joined Trump at the announcement, has been adamant that the Jordan Valley falls under full Israeli control and become an important part of its eastern border.

Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s election rival has made a similar pledge to annex the Jordan Valley as a part of his campaign.

Jordan has warned Israel over the unilateral annexation of the territory.

Where is the Jordan Valley?

The Jordan Valley is a fertile strip of land that stretches from the north of the Dead Sea along the eastern perimeter of the West Bank, bordering the Kingdom of Jordan. It is home to 65,000 Palestinians in 28 villages and 11,000 illegal Israeli settlers.

The total land to be annexed comprises almost 30 percent of the West Bank.

Under Netanyahu’s current plan, the city of Jericho would be cut off from other Palestinian towns in the West Bank.

According to the United Nation’s OCHA, it is home to approximately 20,000 Palestinians.

In a future Palestinian state, the plan will leave West Bank isolated from its Arab neighbour, Jordan.

Currently, the Allenby/King Hussein bridge border crossing over River Jordan is the only crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

jordan valley map

Jordan Valley, Palestine  [Al Jazeera]

Why is it significant?

The annexation of the Jordan Valley separates the West Bank from the River Jordan, which forms its eastern border with Jordan. The river feeds over 80,000 hectares (197,684 acres) of agricultural lands and fish farms.

Controlling this region enables full reign for Israel to divert the river’s waters to new and pre-existing illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Israel routinely cuts off water supply from the River Jordan and diverts it to pipelines serving settlements instead.

This is a part of a continuing effort by Israel to make living conditions for Palestinians in the Jordan Valley difficult so that most of them leave their lands.

And with occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinians, having not been given Israeli citizenship since the annexations of their land and their status remaining controversial and unresolved, it appears that those from the Jordan Valley are facing a similar future.


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Trump’s Defense Team Discounts Bolton as Republicans Work to Hold Off Witnesses



“I listened to Ken Starr and Dershowitz loud and clear yesterday,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina. “The whole premise of the impeachment, I think, is false. I don’t think we need witnesses.”

Punctuating his remarks on Tuesday with a refrain of “danger, danger, danger,” Mr. Sekulow insisted that the managers’ case was built solely on a policy dispute with the president over his push to combat corruption in Ukraine.

“If that becomes the new normal, future presidents, Democrats and Republicans, will be paralyzed the moment they are elected, even before they can take the oath of office,” Mr. Sekulow said. “The bar for impeachment cannot be set this low.”

Despite his warnings, Mr. Sekulow did not directly deny Mr. Bolton’s account, instead reading aloud from statements by Mr. Trump, the Justice Department and the vice president’s office contesting it.

Democrats spent three days last week arguing just the opposite. They said that the House’s two-month investigation concluded that Mr. Trump had used the powers of his office not in the pursuit of a policy objective but for his own political advantage. When he was caught, they argued, he sought to conceal what he had done by ordering an across the board defiance of their investigation

Clocking in at under an hour and a half, the bare-bones closing argument from Mr. Trump’s lawyers underscored their confidence in the final outcome. In the end, they used less than half of the 24 hours available to them to present a case to senators.

Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, ended Tuesday’s presentation by playing a highlight reel of House and Senate Democrats arguing against a partisan impeachment in 1998, including Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, one of the House managers, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.


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A Deal That Has Two Elections, Rather Than Mideast Peace, as Its Focus



It has a brilliant twist: The Palestinians do not have to say yes or no for four years. That means their bottom-line response would not come until the very end of Mr. Trump’s next term, if he is re-elected. In the meantime, Israel would freeze settlements in the territory that Mr. Trump has set aside for the Palestinians, much of it areas the Israelis have little interest in.

That proviso defers all the hard questions for several years of negotiations — with their inevitable breakdowns and crises. But it gives Mr. Trump the campaign-trail talking point that he has fulfilled a 2016 promise and proposed an actual solution, rather than just a process.

The proposal, of course, helps Mr. Netanyahu by moving the goal posts. The status of Jerusalem is set out in the Trump document, rather than being a subject of negotiation. And while past presidents lectured Mr. Netanyahu about his creation of Jewish settlements in territories that are subject to negotiation, Mr. Trump’s plan makes them a permanent feature.

To critics, that is the fatal flaw.

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who was among the lawmakers briefed by Mr. Kushner at the White House, called it “a total abandonment of decades of U.S. Middle East policy.”

He was referring to the longtime American support for a deal that would include only modest adjustments to the Israeli borders drawn in 1967, the year of the Arab-Israeli War, and by a process created in the Oslo Accords, which began in 1993 and largely ended with the failed summit in 2000 at Camp David. The premise of those talks was that the Israelis and Palestinians would set up a complex process and inch their way toward agreements on borders, settlements, political rights and the withdrawal of the Israeli military from Palestinian lands.

There were years of talks, stalemates, “road maps to peace,” collapsed negotiations and intifadas.

Mr. Trump, the disrupter, has made it clear he does not believe that approach would work. On Tuesday, he noted that every president since Lyndon B. Johnson had tried and failed to negotiate a peace deal. Always the real-estate mogul, Mr. Trump has declared that he is more interested in working with existing facts on the ground than on creating processes.

So his plan, three years in the making, is less about future negotiations and more about cementing what exists today and making deals around the edges. If the Palestinians take it, he suggested, riches would follow. There would be a million new jobs, he said, and poverty would be cut in half. Mr. Trump has offered a similar incentive to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.


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