Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he had planned to declare sovereignty over the Jordan Valley immediately, but the Israeli attorney general said he did not have the authority to do so until after he was re-elected and could form a new government.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu had promised to start annexing the Jordan Valley region on the West Bank if he wins national elections next week. The announcement led to layoffs from world leaders.
Following the announcement, a spokesman for the organization said the organization claims that any Israeli move to control Palestinian territory "would be devastating to the potential to revive negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution."
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Netanyahu's Tuesday announcement seemed aimed at promoting the support of right-wing voters, many of whom live in settlements on the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu presented the move as a historic "one-time opportunity" to benefit Israel's borders. The Jordan Valley constitutes about a quarter of the West Bank, which is the center of every future Palestinian state.
While the head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council told Netanyahu of campaign promises, some critics claimed that Netanyahu could have annexed the territory immediately through the cabinet without waiting until after the election, according to The Times of Israel.  On Wednesday, Netanyahu said he had tried to annex the territory last week, but was shot down by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the newspaper reported.
"I want to act on it immediately," Netanyahu said in a Hebrew video posted on Facebook. "That's why I already wanted to take it to the Knesset [The Israeli Parliament] last week, [but] the Attorney General told me: 'You can't because it's a transitional government. ""
Netanyahu said Tuesday if he was re-elected he would also move toward annexing Israeli settlements to the West Bank, but added that he was waiting for the Trump administration's Mideast peace plan to be released.
The White House has said that the plan is complete but will not be released until at least after the Israeli election. The plan is already facing rejection from Palestinian officials, who oppose strengthening ties between the United States and Israel.
“The plan to apply sovereignty is not something we have been thinking about recently. It was planned for months, a senior Israeli government official told The Times of Israel. “But there were legal issues with doing something before the election. The Attorney General said that it cannot be done now because of legal restrictions. "
The official is reportedly added that US officials were" fully informed. ”
Netanyahu's last-minute pledge to join the Jordan Valley if re-elected next week has sparked Arab condemnation and injected the Palestinians into a political campaign that almost completely ignored them.
In response to Netanyahu's statement, Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, wrote on Twitter: "Killing all chances for peace for elections is not responsible, dangerous. "
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The Jordan Valley forms the eastern edge of the West Bank. Israel captured the area from Jordan, along with the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in the 1967 war. Since then, about 30 settlements have been established in the Jordan Valley, which according to the Israeli rights group B'Tselem is now home to about 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 settlers. . Palestinians and the international community overwhelmingly consider all Israeli settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal.
The Jordan Valley is considered an important security asset for Israel as it provides a buffer zone against potential attacks from the east and ensures a defensive line along the country's long border with Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel 25 years ago.
Prior to Netanyahu's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia also warned that the Prime Minister's promise to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley could increase tensions.
According to The Times of Israel, the Russian Foreign Ministry said its implementation could lead to "a sharp escalation of tensions in the region [and] undermines hopes of establishing a long-awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors."
Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Sochi on Thursday to meet Putin where the leaders reportedly will discuss regional issues. Netanyahu also met Putin in Moscow days before the April 9 election, reportedly as a way to gather votes from Israel's large community of Russian speakers.
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Prior to the April elections, Netanyahu made a similar promise that he would apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank if they were re-elected. Netanyahu failed to form a government within the allotted time frame and instead of allowing another legislator to try to form a government, he pushed through a vote to dissolve the Israeli parliament and demand new elections.
Fox News & Bradford Betz, Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.