Once and for all – exploring the security justification for Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank


Colonel (res) Tal Braun

This document will explain, in its first part, the reasons for applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and in the second part the reasons for applying sovereignty to the territories of Judea and Samaria. At the end, it will refer to the Israel-Jordan Peace Agreement.


Part A - The primary reasons for applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley

1. Securing the eastern border of the State of Israel by:

A. Preserving the IDF and security force's operational and intelligence advantage through full control of the Jordan Crossing and Route 90, as well as in villages and agricultural areas:

1) Creating a buffer between the PA and Jordan to prevent and/or reduce the smuggling of weapons, drugs and the like.

2) Maintaining full control over all ingoing and outgoing activity from the PA territories, including both people and goods.

3) Maintaining full control over junctures and their points of origin on both the eastern and western banks of the Jordan.

B. Strengthening Israeli settlements is a vital component, enabling flexibility in the deployment of security forces as well as significant control of the land.

C. Improving the military’s permanent infrastructure in the area as well as its institutionalization.

D. Route 90 – Conserving and developing the eastern and only strategic transportation artery which links the south of the country with the north-- the eastern latitude.


2. Strengthening stability in the Jordan Valley area by:

A. Developing the local economy and creating jobs and employment opportunities for local Arab and Jewish residents in agriculture, tourism, industry, commerce and services.

B. Developing the local infrastructure (including transportation, energy, water and tourism) to best provide for the welfare and security of the residents.

C. Developing regional economic cooperation by expanding joint ventures with the Jordanians and the PA according to the "Jordan Gate" model.


3. Strengthening and improving Israel's regional position:

A. The State of Israel applies sovereignty over an area where it has natural rights (the Bible and the borders of the land), history (Kibbutz Biet Haarava, for example), and legal basis (San Remo 1920). Both throughout the world and in particular around the Middle East, special respect is extended to entities that respect their heritage and past.

B. Applying sovereignty will make it clear that Israel does not intend to compromise its security needs, nor its national rights. The State of Israel is independent and will not forgo any opportunity to act in the name of its long-term interests.

C. Applying sovereignty will strengthen deterrence and make it clear to the Arabs that the State of Israel has learned from its mistakes in the past, when it withdrew from territories and was consequently perceived as weak, open to blackmail and submissive to the pressure of violence and terror. Israel will no longer submit to pressure, threats and intimidation. Applying sovereignty will make it clear to our Arab neighbors that it is best to reach peace agreements according to other alleged disputes.

D. Strengthening the status and perception of the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States among the countries of the region - Strengthening the perception of the deep connection and commitment between the State of Israel and the US government, especially in light of the application of sovereignty (perceived as significant by neighboring and distant countries alike) that is the result of coordination between the two.


Part B: - The main reasons for applying Israeli sovereignty in the territories of Judea and Samaria

1. Our right to the land

A. The State of Israel applies sovereignty over an area where it has natural (biblical) and legal rights (Balfour Declaration 1917, San Remo 1920) as well as a proven historical connection as written in religious sources, historical literature, site names (including Arabic) and archaeological findings.

B. Judea and Samaria are the source of the quarry and the source of the people of Israel's right to land. Now we have the opportunity to renew our sovereignty over our homeland, according to Shimon Hasmonean: "We did not take our land nor purchase our own estate; but instead conquered the inheritance of our ancestors, which our enemies had taken, returning it to its rightful owners".

C. As mentioned, this land contains the most significant heritage sites of the people of Israel, indicating a deep and proven historical connection for thousands of years. Israeli sovereignty over these territories will ensure its preservation, proper education of the younger generation and maintenance of the people's affinity for their country for generations. As former Israeli minister and general, Yigal Alon, said: "For people who do not know their past, the present is poor, and the future is foggy".

2. Security

A. Applying sovereignty will enable the strengthening and expansion of Israeli settlements--a vital component in the security of the State of Israel enabling flexibility and the operation of security forces.

B. Applying sovereignty will significantly improve the operational and intelligence capability within the territories with the goal of thwarting hostile activity against the citizens of the State of Israel, as well as its essential localities and infrastructure both in the lowlands and the coastal plain.

C. Sovereignty will improve vital elements of the infrastructure such as transportation arteries that allow rapid, longitudinal and cross-sectional movement of military and security forces, as well as rescue and recovery operations.

D. Sovereignty will ensure Israel's ability to defend itself if arrangements and agreements with the Arabs are not maintained, as was proven necessary after the Oslo Accords, or unilateral insights and actions cause damage to the home front as noted when the State of Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. According to Yigal Alon in April 1978: "The localities are not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Arab side, with the support of a third party, to recognize Israel's right to borders that can be defended on their own".


3. Strengthening and improving Israel's regional position

A. The State of Israel applies sovereignty over an area where it has natural (biblical) and legal rights (Balfour Declaration 1917, San Remo 1920) congruent to a proven historical connection. Both throughout the world and in particular, the Middle East, special respect is extended to entities that respect their heritage and past.

B. Applying sovereignty will make it clear that Israel does not intend to compromise its security needs, nor its national rights. The State of Israel stands on its own, and does not forgo any opportunity to act in the name of, and serve, its long-term interests.

C. Applying sovereignty will strengthen deterrence and make it clear to the Arabs that the State of Israel has learned from its mistakes in the past, when it withdrew from the territories and was consequently perceived as weak, open to blackmail and submissive to the pressure of violence and terror. Israel will no longer submit to pressure, threats and intimidation. Applying sovereignty will make it clear to our Arab neighbors that it is best to reach peace agreements according to other alleged disputes. Former Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan said: "Concessions to the Arabs are interpreted by them as expressions of weakness and battle fatigue. They teach their people that long-term stubbornness pays off and convince them, that they will eventually prevail. They harden their position and make them more determined enemies.”

D. Strengthening the status and perception of the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States among the countries of the region - Strengthening the perception of the deep connection and commitment between the State of Israel and the US government, especially in light of the application of sovereignty (perceived as significant by neighboring and distant countries alike) that is the result of coordination between the two.

E. Yigal Alon, at a government meeting on June 19, 1967, said: "When the time comes to consider the future borders of the country, we will first and foremost consider the needs of the future country…obviously without ignoring the international arena…and perhaps sanctions that have been imposed. But I will not accept the concept of acting according to sanctions that have already been implemented. You never know where things will lead within international circles.”



4. Strengthening the stability of the Palestinian authority

A. Applying sovereignty has the potential to improve the economic situation and the growth of the PA

1) Sovereignty will enable the development of the local economy to create employment opportunities for Arab and Jewish residents.

2) Sovereignty will enable the development of local infrastructures, benefitting all the residents of the area, such as transport, energy, water, tourism to name a few, and even their security.

3) Sovereignty will enable the development of regional economic cooperation by carrying out joint ventures with the PA, such as joint industrial and commercial zones.

B. Strengthening the Israeli security hold in the area helps the PA security forces thwart terrorist organizations such as Hamas, thereby contributing to the stability of the relatively moderate central government.


5. Civil status

Sovereignty will allow the residents of the area a civilian life identical to that enjoyed by Israeli citizens, whose lives are not overshadowed by civil administration, the orders of the central command general and military law.


6. Environmental protection

Sovereignty in the Territories of Judea and Samaria will allow the State of Israel to maintain, oversee and monitor the use of natural resources and environmental exploitation, some of which will be jointly executed by the PA and Israel. This is vital due to the fact that a main source of water crosses Judea and Samaria and affects the aquifers and sanitation conditions in all the surrounding communities, as well as other infrastructural hazards that endanger the uniqueness of the entire Land of Israel.


Part C - The peace agreement with Jordan will be maintained.

A. Security interest - Jordan has a security interest in maintaining peace with Israel along its entire border, from the Yarmouk river in the north to the city of Aqaba, located on the Gulf of Eilat (Red Sea), in the south: 192 miles in total, 44 miles of which are in the Jordan Valley parallel to Samaria. This allows:

1) Concentrations of effort in other challenging sectors in Jordan - allows Jordan to divert forces to maintain the stability of the kingdom elsewhere including borders with Syria in the north and Iraq in the east, in addition to investment in domestic security.

2) Separation and Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley constitute a buffer between Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and their relatives, who constitute an overwhelming majority of the population of the East Bank (Jordan). Hussein bin Talal, former Jordanian king and father of the current King Abdullah, who signed a peace treaty with Israel on October 26, 1994, gave up administrative control of the West Bank in July 1988, realizing the risk of his rule by the Palestinians in the popular uprising of December 1987 against Israel (The first intifada). This was after severely suppressing the establishment of the PLO in September 1970, led by terrorist Yasser Arafat in his kingdom, and exiling them to Lebanon. The Jordanian king was also forced, over the next few years, to take a hard line against attempts by Jordanian Palestinians to undermine his rule.

3) Security cooperation with Israel, at various levels, to prevent terrorism in accordance with the peace agreement will help the kingdom's internal security.

4) Security Assistance - States involved in the peace agreement and its preservation provide comprehensive security assistance to Jordan, including weapons, training and sharing of knowledge essential to maintaining interests that preserve the stability of the regime.


B. Water Agreements - In accordance with the peace agreement, Israel provides Jordan with at least 50 million cubic meters of water each year, essential for drinking and agriculture.


C. Economic interest

1) Industry

a) A number of Israeli factories have relocated to Jordan and employ the local population.

b) "Jordan Gate" - a joint industrial area located near the city of Beit She'an.

2) Trading

a) A trade agreement was signed in 1996 and has been followed up each year since by trade agreements between entrepreneurs from both countries, enabling the transfer of goods between them.

b) There is frequent transit of goods between Jordan, Israel and the PA.

c) There is the intention to declare a free trade zone.

d) Use of Israeli airspace and marine space.

3) Agriculture

a) The Jordan Valley, the Kingdom's grain barn, relies largely on Israeli water and technology.

b) There are Israeli water drills in the Arava Desert that also supply water to the developing Jordanian agriculture.

4) Tourism - The possibility of developing tourism and infrastructure in order to increase the volume of visitors:

a) Pilgrims – The Jordan Valley, the site of the baptism of Christ (Kasser al-Yehud), is a hub of Christian pilgrimage for people from all over the world.

b) Medical tourism– The Northern Dead Sea, on the main road between Jerusalem and Amman, is a tourist attraction that has been neglected for years due to its failure to apply sovereignty. Its development will strengthen the possibilities for cooperation between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

c) Historical and archaeological sites - Tourist travel between these countries (even the territory of the PA, Jericho) specifically in order to visit significant sites.

d) Employment in the tourist industry – Many Jordanian workers, for example, are employed in hotels in Eilat.

e) Extensive Israeli tourism in Jordan- Many Israelis visit sites in Jordan and stay for a few days, others fly through Amman’s international Airport.

5) Mutual assistance, knowledge and education

a) Many Israeli students attend Jordanian universities (mainly Israeli Arabs).

b) The transfer of Israeli knowledge in various fields contributes to the development of the Jordanian kingdom. Israel, for example, has played a major role in establishing and elaborate medical center in Amman as well as training Jordanian medical teams.

D. Foreign relations

1) Support - Jordan is a poor country supported by the US, Germany and other countries. A breach of the peace agreement in their view would jeopardize this support and undermine the stability of the kingdom.

2) Jordan's special status in relation to Jerusalem and the holy places - Jordan would not want to risk losing this status as it is the last remnant of the West Bank conquered between 1948-1967. Additionally, it voluntarily gave up its administrative power of the West Bank in July 1988.


Note - In any case, Israel's generations-long security needs should not be compromised at this time, even at the expense of a crisis with Jordan.



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