Why the Jordan Valley Is Crucial to Israel’s Security

Sept. 27 2019

A few weeks ago, Benjamin Netanyahu made a pre-election promise about the Jordan Valley, obtained by Israel during the Six-Day War. His statement, misreported as an intention to annex the territory—instead he spoke of applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of it—raised a predictable hue and cry. But, notes Gershon Hacohen, the statement was perfectly in keeping with the thinking of Israeli leaders from Levi Eshkol to Yitzḥak Rabin, and is rooted in the Jewish state’s strategic needs. Hacohen explains the flaws in the thinking that in 2000 led then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak to deviate from this position:

After the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994, and especially after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s army in the Iraq war (2003), it has been increasingly argued that the threat of an eastern front has passed and controlling the Jordan Valley is no longer crucial to Israel’s security. Even [in 1994], this argument was divorced from a basic understanding of the phenomenon of war.

Since that time, in light of the lessons of the [second intifada], the “Arab Spring,” Hizballah’s enormous missile arsenal, and the strengthening of . . . Hamas, as well as Tehran’s growing expansionism—which [could give Iran the potential to] deploy Shiite militias in a new front along Israel’s main [north-south] artery (Highway 6)—the Jordan Valley’s status as a vital Israeli security interest has only increased.

Most [Israeli] advocates of a Palestinian state say it will be demilitarized and unable to threaten Israel’s security. During the Oslo years, the PLO feigned acceptance of demilitarization and signed a number of agreements to this specific effect, only to violate them flagrantly as the West Bank and Gaza were transformed into hothouses of terror. The failure of the UN forces in Lebanon . . . to prevent Hizballah from arming itself in the south of that country shows why proposals to deploy international forces in a similar role in the Jordan Valley cannot guarantee a true demilitarization. Thus the Jordan Valley, as a buffer zone controlled by the IDF, is an existential necessity when it comes to Israel’s security.

In addition to the security issue, the Jordan Valley in its full geographical scope can house millions of Israelis and provide a location for national infrastructure that cannot be compressed into the coastal plain. . . . In an era of peace, a developed infrastructure of roads [there] could once again turn the Land of Israel into a vital land bridge between Asia and Africa.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Ehud Barak, Israeli Security, Jordan Valley, Yitzhak Rabin


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria