Netanyahu insists Jordan Valley annexation discussed with Pompeo The prime minister also said that if direct elections for PM are initiated, he will win

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Can he win again? Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Can he win again? Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The issue of annexing the Jordan valley was raised with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting last week in Lisbon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, though a formal plan was not presented.

Netanyahu’s comments at a conference sponsored by the Makor Rishon newspaper followed denials issued by senior State Department official David Schnker  that a plan had been presented to Pompeo.

As a result of Schenker’s comments, reports in both the traditional and social media emerged hinting that Netanyahu was being less than honest – and engaging in campaign “spin” – when he told reporters in Lisbon that “we discussed the issue of annexation, but we’re not talking about timetables yet.”

Just as he wanted formal US recognition for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, “I want US recognition for our sovereignty over the Jordan Valley,” Netanyahu said at the conference.

“It was said that the issue was not raised [at the Pompeo meeting], the issue was raised,” Netanyahu said. “No they didn’t say it was not raised, they said that a formal plan was not discussed. Right, that was not yet raised. But the issue was raised.”

Netanyahu said that he intends on raising this with the Trump Administration. “I think the time has come to extend Isarli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, and also arrange the status of all the settlements in Judea and Samaria, those inside the settlement blocks, and those that are not in the blocs. They will be part of the state of Israel.”

Netanyahu, in a speech aimed at shoring up support among the settlement Right at a time when a few settlement leaders have thrown their support to Netanyahu’s Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar, the prime minister said that he was uniquely positioned to get US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as well as negotiate a security pact between Israel and the US that would ensure Israel’s freedom of action.

“A lot of alliances and relationships that didn’t even exist and couldn’t even be imagined” have been formed under his leadership, he told the conference. Though he noted that “the most important and irreplaceable alliance is an alliance with the United States and he said it is time to sign a historic defense pact.

“I can achieve a historic defense alliance [with the United States] and that’s what I’m going to do, please God, in the coming months,” he said.

On other issues, Netanyahu said that Israel, if needed, Israel would engage in a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip. He said there will be no permanent cease-fire in the region unless the rockets stop.

His comments come the morning after the Israeli Air Force struck Hamas targets in response to rocket fire toward Israel.

Additionally, the prime minister said that if it comes down to a third election, he will win “by far,” and that the Blue and White party is “not budging by even a millimeter” in the coalition negotiations.

“Today I say to Gantz: come and build a unity government with me,” Netanyahu said. “And if not, then let the country decide who they want by holding direct elections for prime minister. Let the nation decide who will be prime minister. At least those elections will be fast and not drawn out and costly.”