Abbas: Jordan Valley vital to Palestinian interests
Published Tuesday 12/06/2012 (updated) 13/06/2012 19:31
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that Israel's claims in the Jordan Valley were based on economic interests, not security concerns.
Abbas said the Jordan Valley is of industrial, agricultural and touristic importance to the Palestinian Authority, and the government will not accept any meter less than its 37 kilometers along the Dead Sea.
Speaking at an event to inaugurate a Jericho development project, Abbas said at his headquarters in Ramallah that the Palestinian Authority hopes to promote tourism and agriculture in the area.
Abbas said Israel's fear that Iran might "sneak in" through the Palestinian borders is a "ridiculous" claim used to justify seizing more land.
Israel last month began clearing landmines from a site in the Hemdat settlement in the northern Jordan Valley which it hopes to turn into agricultural land, Israeli media reported at the time.
The area on the eastern side of the West Bank is considered Palestinian land under international law, but Israel's leadership views the area as an important security barrier.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will maintain a security force in the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement.