David Hearst writes in Middle East Eye:
It was to have been the crowning pre-election promise. With it, Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who has dominated Israel for much of three decades, calculated on delivering the coup de grace to his political rivals on the settler right. Avigdor Lieberman the kingmaker? No more.
But Netanyahu’s announcement that he was going to annex the Jordan Valley, and with it nearly one-third of the West Bank, did not turn out like that.
Netanyahu boasted that he would be able to annex all the settlements in the heart of his homeland, thanks to “my personal relationship with President Trump”.
But US President Donald Trump, this time, refused to play ball.
The White House issued a statement saying there was no change in US policy at this time, and to reinforce the point, Trump sacked his national security adviser, John Bolton, long seen in Jerusalem as their man in Washington.
Maariv correspondent Ben Caspit claimed that Netanyahu had asked Trump for the same recognition of the annexation of the Jordan Valley that he had received for the Golan Heights. Bolton was up for it, but Trump refused.
Caspit and other correspondents all pointed out that Netanyahu did not even need to ask Trump’s permission to annex the Jordan Valley, which turns out to have a very different legal history from the Golan Heights, which is captured Syrian territory.
Netanyahu only needs a simple majority in the Knesset to annex the Jordan Valley, because the law that enables him to do this already exists. A law passed by left-wing MPs in 1967 amended an ordinance dating from the British Mandate, which authorised the government to issue a decree stating which parts of Palestine the jurisdiction and administration of the state of Israel would apply to. This law allowed the government of Levi Eshkol to annex East Jerusalem in 1967.
No matter. One spectacular no-show was followed by another – his own.
Netanyahu had to be hustled offstage by bodyguards in the middle of a campaign speech in Ashdod, in southern Israel, when rockets fired from Gaza set off air-raid sirens. This was a reminder to Netanyahu and all Israeli settlers of the land in which they had pitched their tent.