The Jordan Valley: Immovable red line

In the ongoing American sponsored peace negotiations led by Secretary of State John Kerry, the latest issue of contention grabbing the headlines has been future control of the Jordan Valley. It has always been Benjamin Netanyahu’s position that in any future agreement Israel would retain control of the Valley. On the other hand, Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stood by his position that not one single Israeli civilian or soldier will be allowed to remain in the Jordan Valley, or in any of the territory captured by Israel in 1967 for that matter.

In an effort to enforce compromise between the parties, John Kerry originally proposed a temporary Israeli military presence in the Valley (such as 10 years) following the signing of an agreement. In response to Abbas’ refusal to consider such a scenario, Kerry followed up with a new proposal in which American Troops would maintain such temporary presence in the Valley in lieu of Israeli forces.

Alarmed that American pressure will lead to Netanyahu backtracking on yet another one of his red lines (à la release of convicted terrorists), the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved MK Miri Regev’s proposal for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley. As such proposal has zero chance to pass the full Knesset, it is in effect a purely symbolic move intended to make the point that Israeli control over the Valley is a red line that cannot be compromised.

Regardless of the motive of MK Miri Regev and the ministers who approved the annexation proposal (some claim it is pure political grandstanding), I can only but agree with any move which emphasizes that Israeli military presence and effective control of the Jordan Valley must be seen as an immovable red line.

Yes, the Palestinians will never accept it – so what! Yes, the Europeans will issue condemnations and attempt to extort us with threats of sanctions and boycotts – so what! Yes the whole international community and the U.N. will pass resolution after resolution against us – so what!  And yes, the present American administration will depict us as a petulant, intractable spoiled child who does not know what is good for him – so what!

People, there are red lines which cannot be crossed. The Jordan Valley is not simply our border with Jordan. It is our buffer against those forces which unabashedly seek our destruction, such as Iran and extremist Islamic groups the likes of Al-Qaeda. Can we trust in the willingness and ability of the Jordanian regime to prevent the passage all sorts of weaponry into the hands of Palestinian terrorists? Can we trust in the long-term stability of the presently relatively friendly Hashemite King – Abdullah II, in a country whose population is comprised approximately of 70% Palestinian Arabs? Can we put any trust for our security in American or international forces which have a repetitive history of pulling troops out of the region? Especially in light of the instability and unpredictability of events in the Middle East, the answer is of course an easy and obvious no.

What good purpose does maintaining a positive image in the eyes of the world and of our allies have when the price we are required to pay for it is an irreversable relinquishment of our present power to defend ourselves. And those who push the tired line, “peace of the brave,” well, in this instance it would be the peace of the foolish.

It is commonly accepted that Israel can never agree to a right of return of for all Palestinian refugees because it would in effect mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state and the ability of its Jewish citizens to protect themselves from the enemies surrounding it as well as the enemy within.  Control of the Jordan Valley needs to be viewed in the same terms as the relinquishment of such control results in a dire existential threat.

President Obama, Secretary Kerry, if you had a child who was unpopular with his peers at school, and in return for social “acceptance” he was required to amputate his right arm and left leg, would you encourage him to do so? Then don’t ask Israel to existentially undermine its ability to protect itself by compromising on its control over the Jordan Valley.

About the Author
Ran Zev Schijanovich was born in Israel in 1970 to an Argentinian father and American mother, lived in Argentina through age 11, and then moved to New York. He made aliyah in 2005 and served as a combat soldier in Golani from the ages of 36 to 38. Ran is graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
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