The Guardian view on Netanyahu’s land grab: a prison, not a peace | Editorial

The Israeli political leadership, with the help of Donald Trump, is making finding a way out of conflict with the Palestinians impossible

Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank – and, crucially, seize the bread basket of the Jordan valley – if he wins the Israeli election next week are not only illegal under international law but would, if enacted, make peace impossible in the Holy Land. Neither of these things appears to bother Mr Netanyahu, who refuses to recognise the Palestinian right to national self-determination and statehood.

The Likud leader framed his land grab as a defensive measure, yet – as Wednesday’s rocket exchanges show – his country’s military is busy on Israel’s western flank, not its eastern one. Missiles can vault the valley, puncturing the security argument that it could provide a buffer against an Arab invasion or guerrilla infiltration from the east. Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war. It is worth noting that in 2001, in peace talks with Palestinians, Israeli security officials suggested an offensive utility for the Jordan valley, saying that if its peace treaty with Jordan was violated then the space afforded by the fertile strip could provide a useful way to “take action”. Given Israel’s recent offensive strikes outside its borders, this might explain why security arguments have resurfaced.

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