The Jordan Valley absolutely must remain in Israeli hands, former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan told journalists on a field trip to the region organized by MediaCentral, a Jerusalem center providing support services for journalists.
By Atara Beck, Senior Writer, United with Israel
Speaking at the Gidron observation point in the Judean Desert, overlooking the Jordan Valley, Dayan, who had served as head of Israel’s National Security Council, stressed the strategic value of the area to Israel when it comes to defense from outside attacks.
“We are not a weak or helpless country, but we have to be aware that it is small and narrow,” he stated.
There was a time when Israel was urged to give up the strategically important Golan Heights in the north.
“Imagine if we had taken the wrong advice and given it away,” he said, referring to the bloodshed in Syria.
In the south, Israel left the Sinai desert; the Jordan Valley is the easternmost border from north to south. To the west, the distance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is a mere 40 miles, Dayan said.
“The Arab Spring is an historic event, but it will take a long time to stabilize,” he said, pointing to an increase in “global jihadist terrorism” and “a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt….
“We left Gaza [in 2005], evacuated thousands of Israelis, and what did we get? Hamas!” he continued, adding his doubts about the reliability of the PA as a true partner in peace negotiations, given that it had “never agreed to [the concept of] two states for two people.”
Dayan is not opposed to the idea of a Palestinian state, but it depends on “what kind of a Palestinian state.
“If the Palestinians don’t understand that Israel needs security through defensible borders, what are we talking about? We want our children to live in a Jewish democratic state. We don’t want to rule the Palestinians. But we want our children to live in a Jewish, democratic state with basic human rights.”
Responding to allegations that Israel stands in the way of an agreement, he suggested that perhaps “Palestinian intransigence should make people suspicious.”
Topographically speaking, the Jordan Valley region “is the ideal place to defend ourselves,” he stated.
Many claim that an agreement with the Palestinians would bring peace, which in turn would bring security.
Solving the conflict is “very important,” he acknowledged, “but in the right way,” because if the agreement does not last, it is crucial to have “defensible borders.”
He also discarded the notion that advanced technology could substitute for strategic depth as well as the suggestion of having foreign troops guard the area.
“There is no way to provide security to a nation…with foreign forces. They won’t stay. They won’t fight for it…. No nation wants to sacrifice their boys if it isn’t their land.
“The only way to do it is with the Israeli Defense Forces and the only place to do it is here, in the Jordan Valley,” he affirmed.
Dayan has travelled around the world, carrying his message, and “nobody has given a good reason to go against this assessment.”
Also, “this place is wide open. It’s not as if there are all these Palestinian communities here,” he said, pointing to the largely empty landscape and apparently alluding to the misguided notion that Israeli sovereignty would mean uprooting Arabs from their homes.
Regarding US Secretary of State John Kerry’s push for a framework agreement, “territorial issues should be the last, last, last issue,” Dayan stressed, adding that it would have to implemented for some time in order “to see if it works.”
For example, “even [PA President] Abu Mazen can’t deal with [Hamas-run] Gaza. So what are we talking about? Three states for two people?”
According to Dayan, “the 1967 borders are a sure recipe for another war.”