January 28, 2020

Annexing the Jordan Valley Is Bad for Israeli Security

“The 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan included two clauses whose security importance is as great and perhaps greater than the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula in the peace treaty with Egypt. These clauses turn Kahol Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz’s intention and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand to annex the Jordan Valley to Israel into a tasteless joke showing a lack of national responsibility.

The first, Clause 4 of the fourth article, prohibits Jordan and Israel from signing military agreements with states or organizations hostile to the other party, or “allowing the entry, stationing and operating on their territory, or through it, of military forces … in circumstances which may adversely prejudice the security of the other Party.” In other words, based on the working assumption that the Jordanian army intends to or can threaten Israel, Israel’s real security boundary is not the Jordan River, but Jordan’s border with Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia, which are hundreds of kilometers away from Israel’s population centers. This clause gives Israel greater strategic depth than what the Zionist Movement ever sought in any demand since the 1919 Versailles peace conference.

The security buffer on the eastern slopes of Samaria and the Jordan Valley was born out of Israeli fear after the Six-Day War of a ground invasion along the “potential eastern front” by the armies of Jordan, Syria and Iraq. This front eventually faded, beginning with the destruction of the surface-to-air missiles in Lebanon’s Beka’a Valley and the downing of 86 Syrian aircraft in the First Lebanon War, through the cessation of free weapons shipments from Russia to Syria due to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1988, the peace treaty with Jordan in 1994 and the conquest of Iraq in 2003, and ending with the civil war in Syria since 2011.”

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