Breaking the Myth of the Jordan Valley:
A Position Paper



December 15, 1997


Every time an Israeli government begins to consider the final status map of the State of Israel we, the citizens of the State, are bombarded with slogans which are aimed to convince us that "black is white". The myths that have been created by politicians in order to justify holding on to pieces of the Land of Israel are sometimes so convincing that they even make reasonable and rational people stop thinking reasonably and rationally. While there are many such myths that have been created, I wish to only address one of them in this piece: The Jordan Valley is Israel's security belt.

This statement may have been true at some point. Let's examine the logic behind it. The creators of this myth state that Israel must maintain its presence along the Jordan river for the following reasons:

1. Israeli presence along the Jordan will defend Israel in case of an attack from the East. In the past the fear was mainly from a coalition of Jordanian, Iraqi and perhaps other Arab forces.

2. There is no way to know how long the Hashemite Kingdom will last. The thinking is that after King Hussein there is a very likely chance that the new regime in Amman will breach the peace treaty with Israel. A new regime in Amman will seek alliances with Iraq and other radical Arab regimes and a new threat will exist on the eastern front.

3. Any potential threat to Israel from the East of the Jordan will receive automatic support from a Palestinian regime to the West of the Jordan river thereby placing the threat at the door step of Israel's main population centers.

4. A Palestinian state which borders Jordan will have a de-stabilizing effect on the regime in Amman.

Let's examine the real facts:

Israel does not need the Jordan Valley to guarantee its security on the Eastern front.

1. There is a full peace treaty between Israel and Jordan with very successful security cooperation due to mutual interests. This security cooperation could continue even if there is a Palestinian state in the West Bank which reaches up to the Jordan river. Joint patrols and other tactical means based on cooperation between Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian forces could serve in preventing border incursions by guerrillas.

2. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan does not fear a Palestinian state alongside its borders. In a recent letter written to me by King Hussein, he states "Recently we have noticed that some Israeli circles go far in presuming to speak in the name of Jordan by claiming that our security will be compromised in the event of the rise of a Palestinian state. This is used as a pretext to prevent an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian land on the Jordan River, by claiming that our security and theirs requires such an unfair decision that deprives our brethren of their rights. These claims are baseless and they are categorically and unequivocally rejected".

3. What if a real threat did emerge from the East? What if the Hashemite regime did collapse? What if the new regime in Jordan did breach or cancel the peace treaty with Israel? What if Iraq or some other party invaded Jordan with the aim of continuing their advance into the Palestinian state? The answers to these questions are easily found within the realm of simple military and strategic planning. For Israel to be able to withdraw from the Jordan Valley we must insure the following: a. Israel must have control of the airspace over the entire West Bank. (Does anyone imagine that Israel will not maintain this control under any scenario?)

b. Israel must deploy a significant artillery force south of Beit She'an in the north of the Jordan Valley within Israeli territory and in the area of Ma'aleh Adumim in the south (which we can assume Israel will annex in the final status agreement).

c. Israel must maintain electronic "listening" facilities along the West Bank mountain ridge facing eastward. d. Israel will continue to deploy intelligence satellites providing real-time surveillance data all along Israel's eastern front.

These military and strategic arrangements will in any real threat event allow Israel to retake the entire West Bank by cutting the eastern border along the Jordan River within a period of less than 12 hours. A mobile artillery offensive from the north and the south of the Jordan valley combined with full Israeli control in the skies is more than capable of protecting Israel against any conventional attack from the east.

Israeli continued control of the Jordan valley will prevent peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is vital territory for future Palestinian development including a normalized border between Jordan and Palestine. This is, however, not vital territory for future Israeli development. The Israeli civilian population in the Jordan Valley has never grown into a significant asset for Israel's economic development. The agriculture in the Jordan Valley while very impressive in terms of its accomplishments in overcoming the harsh climate and environment, does not justify keeping this piece of territory for national pride.

Only if the Palestinian state has enough contiguous territory under its control will a chance of peace real exist. With real peace Israelis will be able to continue to travel between Jerusalem and the Kinneret via the Jordan Valley, stopping in Jericho for lunch on the way. The myths around the so security needs of Israel in the Jordan Valley must be broken in order for a chance of peace to emerge.



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