In the November 27 article written by Jonah Naghi called “Securing the Jordan Valley,” Naghi based his article on a proposed plan written by an extreme Left group of current and formal generals known as Commanders for the Security of Israel. The article suggested, among other things, to secede the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians in a 10- to 15-year process as part of a two-state solution.
As a former general who served for 30 years in the IDF on all fronts – including the Jordan Valley – I find this article and ideas troubling and full with wrong assumptions and misconceptions that cannot go unanswered, especially when it undermines the basic ability of the State of Israel to exist and thrive long-term.
The importance of the Jordan Valley to Israel was widely understood and agreed by all Zionist parties in Israel until the late 90s. The first plan dealing with the Jordan Valley was drafted immediately after the Six Day War – 1967, by former labor minister Yigal Allon and is known as the “Allon Plan”. The broad aim of the plan was to annex most of the Jordan Valley from the Jordan River to the eastern slopes of the Judean and Samarian ridge (the West Bank) along what is known today as Allon’s Road.
Former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, when describing the principles of the Oslo agreement that he himself initiated, declared that the Jordan Valley will be forever the eastern border of the State of Israel and the Palestinians will have autonomy in Judea and Samaria within Israel’s borders.
In the last elections Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a plan to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. The plan has the support of the right-wing and center parties and the vast majority of the Knesset members.
Going back to Naghi’s article, the generals behind it believe that you can “ensure Israeli security without limiting Palestinian sovereignty.” In other words, we can “let the cats guard the cream” and be sure they won’t drink it.
What drives this kind of thinking?
The biggest misconception is the assumption that the Israeli-Arab conflict is all about a land dispute regarding Judea and Samaria and once we fix this, a long-lasting eternal peace will emerge. So why take seriously security concerns if everlasting peace is on the way?
The problem is that no Palestinian leader shares this vision and the fact is that in every Palestinian Authority map, the State of Israel does not exist. In the Palestinian Authority education system, every child is educated to hate Israel and Jews, ensuring that future generations will continue to fight Israel and be a part of the Jihad, until every centimeter of “Palestine” is liberated. Israel has to take into account that the most reasonable scenario is that the Arab Palestinians use the agreement to prepare for the next stage in their fight against Israel.
The article goes on saying: “Israel may be concerned that the Palestinians would not be able to secure the valley and prevent infiltrations like the IDF can.” So, the problem according to the generals is not the motivation to annihilate us in the near or far future, but a technical issue regarding the level of training of the Palestinian Authority forces and their ability to secure borders.
According to the article there will be an “airborne monitoring system above the crossing point.” Is there a border, anywhere in the world currently secured this way? This is the “silver bullet” that will defend the people of Israel in the future?
The Jordan River border is 300 km. long and can be crossed at any point. The Arab Palestinians would be able to exercise the right of return and bring into the heart of Israel hundreds of thousands of terrorists from all around the Middle East, with endless number of weapons, posing an existential threat to the Nine Miles low planes of central Israel. In Gaza the same ideas resulted in the takeover by Hamas and Islamic Jihad and 20,000 rockets covering all Israel. All the weapons in Gaza are smuggled through a seven-mile border with Egypt through tunnels. To reverse that “error of judgment” means a war with thousands of casualties.
The article continues to hypothesize how the Palestinian Authority and Jordan will react to Israel applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. The article claims that this will undermine security cooperation with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The same threats were made when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem and moved the US Embassy and none of these predictions came true for a very simple reason. Both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority depend on the security cooperation with Israel for their survival. They need this cooperation more than Israel does. So, it would be reasonable to assume that nothing dramatic will occur after Israel applies sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.
Seceding the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians in a 10- to 15-year process, as suggested in the article, reminds me of the Iran Deal logic, based on postponing the supposedly “inevitable” Iranian nuclear bomb. The logic goes like this: When you have a really bad plan, suggest implementing it in 15 years and then you will have much less antagonism because only the next generation will suffer from it. The 4,000-year old people of Israel need leaders who look 1,000 years ahead, preparing for any scenario and not Generals who are willing to compromise future generations by leaving the Israelis to the trust and mercy of their most bitter enemies.
In the Middle East the stronger you are, the bigger are the chances to sign agreements. A weakened Israel based on indefensible borders and dependent on its enemies for protection will only motivate those enemies to wage war and will bring more misery to the region and specifically to the people of Israel, endangering it existentially.
As the Beatles once said, “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” Israel doesn’t have the luxury to close its eyes and fantasize on “detached from reality” peace agreements. We need solutions that are viable and ensure Israel’s security for eternity, which obviously includes sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.