Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on Tuesday regarding his plan to formalize Israeli sovereignty in Jordan Valley has sent shockwaves across the world. However, much of the outrage has stemmed from a misunderstanding about Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and historical claims over the region. Even the standard newspaper accounts of Netanyahu’s plans as envisioning the “annexation” of territory is inaccurate.
Netanyahu never said “annexation.” Instead, he spoke of “applying sovereignty” to refer to Israel’s territorial claims over the Jordan Valley. International outlets, particularly left-leaning ones, have referred to Netanyahu’s campaign promise as a promise to annex land. But there is a reason for the PM’s careful choice of wording, and for its mistranslation and misrepresentation abroad.
A nation cannot annex land over which it already has sovereign claims. Netanyahu purposefully referred to the process as an application of Israeli sovereignty, abstaining from using the Hebrew word for annexation, sipuach. As Eugene Kontorovich, director of the International