JERUSALEM, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed Sunday a bill to annex Jewish settlements in the Palestinian Jordan Valley to be an official part of the Jewish state.
The bill, which still needs to be approved by the Knesset ( parliament), counters the U.S. proposal for security arrangement in the Jordan Valley and threatens to thwart the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, only a week before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive at Israel in a fresh bid to push forward the peace talks.
Chairwoman of the Committee, Tzipi Livni, who is also Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, defined the bill as " irresponsible". She said "this bill would harm the State of Israel and isolate it," and she will appeal the decision.
Promoted by a Hawkish Knesset member of the ruling coalition, Miri Regev, the bill calls for applying Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley as well as Jewish lands and the roads that lead to them.
If the bill becomes a law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be unable to accept the U.S. proposal to recognize the Jordan Valley as part of the future Palestinian state and maintain only Israel's military presence in the area.
"Its purpose is to ensure that the current government of Israel continues to maintain the country's eastern line of defense, as every previous government has done," Regev, member of Netanyahu's Likud party, lauded the decision. "The approval is an absolute statement by the government saying the Jordan Valley is a strategic asset for Israel's security and will remain forever in Israeli hands."
Israel occupied the Jordan Valley, around one third of the West Bank, in the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians accuse Israel of intensive exploitation of the land and water resources of the Jordan Valley, to a greater extent than elsewhere in the West Bank, making it annexed de facto to the State of Israel. They have reportedly rejected the U.S. proposal to allow a continued Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley under a peace deal.