Palestinians unveil Jordan Valley fund as annexation looms


Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

The Palestinian Authority has announced a multi-million-dollar fund to support residents of the Jordan Valley, just days before Israel intends to start annexing the strategic swathe of the occupied West Bank.

"The government has decided to establish projects to support the residents of the Jordan Valley," Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told AFP on Wednesday.

The scheme will be implemented within days and amount to 35 million Israeli shekels ($10 million), the premier said.

The financing will largely focus on agricultural improvements, although it also includes education and health projects.

Additionally, Shtayyeh said the PA will "allocate land to all Palestinians who want to invest in the Jordan Valley."

Palestinians greatly outnumber Jewish settlers in the fertile valley, which makes up about 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.

But Israel considers the area essential to its security and intends to take steps towards annexing it, along with Jewish settlements across the West Bank, from July 1.

President Donald Trump promised US blessing for the annexations as part of a controversial peace plan he unveiled in January that has been angrily rejected by the Palestinians as a violation of international law.

The plan broke with longstanding international consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has been opposed by Washington's Arab and European allies as well as the United Nations.