Why Jordan Relies on Israel to Secure the Jordan Valley

(Jerusalem Post) Dan Diker - A report last week in Maariv that fundamental disagreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators over the future of the Jordan Valley may soon collapse peace talks comes as no surprise to Middle East observers. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin insisted on Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley in order to defend Israel's main airport and coastal cities. Rabin declared to the Knesset in October 1995, as it endorsed the Oslo II interim accords, that "the security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept." Since 1967 Israeli governments have been guided by the security doctrine of "defensible borders," that depends on the Jordan Valley and the rising 900-meter Judea-Samaria hill ridge as Israel's front line of defense against conventional assaults and terror attacks from the east. Without an Israeli presence along the border, jihadi groups from Iraq and Syria would be attracted to cross into Jordan and then to Palestinian territory. King Abdullah II has publicly supported the establishment of a Palestinian sovereign state in the West Bank. However, the king and his security echelons are mindful of the Palestinians' "checkered" security record, and have reason to be concerned. A common Palestinian-Jordanian border would likely increase Palestinian irredentism towards the East Bank, which has been a major Jordanian concern since "Black September" in 1970, when Syrian-backed Palestinian insurgents threatened the Hashemite Kingdom. Jordanian security concerns may help explain why various senior Jordanian officials have told their Israeli counterparts regularly over the past decade that if a Palestinian state is established, it must be demilitarized, and the Palestinian leadership must agree that Israeli and Jordanian security forces will be the only two armies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The writer served as secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress from 2011 to 2013.

2013-10-21 00:00:00

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