Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that Israel will listen “fairly and with openness” to the US peace proposals, and bewailed that the Palestinians are not willing to do the same, noting that “before they even heard the plan [they] rejected it outright.”
Netanyahu’s comments on Sunday came as he toured the Jordan Valley with US National Security Advisor John Bolton, two days before the opening of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain, which the US administration organized to gain backing for the economic component of their peace blueprint.
The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the workshop, tagging the plan a “sell out,” which would see up to $50 billion invested in the region over the next decade, with some $28 billion earmarked for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Despite pressure from the PA, representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco will take part in the conference, along with representatives from the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and various international organizations. A number of Israeli business people are also scheduled to participate as well.
Netanyahu took Bolton via helicopter to various strategic points in the Jordan Valley, where he stressed the region’s strategic importance to Israel. Netanyahu gave a similar tour in March to US Senator Lindsey Graham in the Golan Heights, just days before US President Donald Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic plateau.
“The Jordan Valley offers Israel the minimal strategic depth and height for the defense of our country, and our presence here also guarantees stability and security for the entire region,” Netanyahu told Bolton.
“For those who say that for peace to be established Israel has to leave the Jordan Valley, I say that it will not bring peace, it will bring war and terror – and we’ve been there. We don’t want to be there again. So under any peace agreement our position will be that Israel’s presence should continue here for Israel’s security and for the security of all,” Netanyahu said. “We believe that peace is coupled and dependent on security, our presence here guarantees security, and therefore guarantees peace.”
Bolton echoed Netanyahu’s concerns, reiterating that without security, “there is no peace, no long lasting peace.” He added that it’s “too bad that more Americans can’t come to locations like this, see the geography, understand its significance, and how it effects Israel’s critical security position, and explain why Israel has taken the view that it has.”
Bolton assured Netanyahu that Trump will “take the concerns that you have voiced over the years very much into account as we go forward in this.”
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