Israel's Security Imperatives in the Jordan Valley

(Real Clear World) IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaacov Ayish - Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley is critical to Israel's ability to defend itself by itself. The benefits outweigh the potential costs, and the move would not preclude a future agreement with the Palestinians. The valley is a natural barrier and Israel's longest border, separating Jordan from Israel and the West Bank. Compared to the pre-1967 armistice lines, it provides Israel with much-needed strategic depth, allowing IDF forces to more efficiently neutralize threats in Palestinian Authority territory. By applying Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, Israel would be able to permanently contribute to Jordan's stability and its own. IDF forces already routinely thwart arms smuggling and other terrorist activities along the Jordan River. Continued Israeli presence will prevent the valley, and by extension the West Bank, from devolving into a terrorist haven akin to Gaza. Such a scenario in a territory adjacent to Jordan, whose population is majority Palestinian, would dangerously undermine Jordanian security. Critics have cautioned that applying Israeli law to the valley could harm the country's security by destabilizing Jordan. The move will certainly create challenges for King Abdullah. Yet Jordan still relies on security and intelligence cooperation with Israel, as well as supplies of water and natural gas. With Syria and Iraq as neighbors, Jordan also needs a stable border - something only permanent Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley can provide. As Syria's violent unraveling and the turbulent power changes in Egypt show, no Middle Eastern country is impervious to sudden, violent changes. Israel must have defensible borders. The valley can provide those. Until Palestinian leaders decide to pursue a lasting solution, Israel must act to secure its interests with American coordination. The writer, former head of the IDF General Staff Operations Branch, is Senior Vice President for Israeli Affairs at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA).

2020-07-09 00:00:00

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