Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
From multiple sources I am picking up considerable concern regarding the broad implications -- diplomatic and security -- with regard to any relinquishment by Israel of full control of the Jordan Valley.
Apologies that this map says "West Bank" and not, properly, Judea and Samaria. It is the best I could find in order to clearly illustrate the location of the Jordan Valley -- the lowland that abuts the bank of the Jordan River.
I wrote the other day about the expectation ("demand") voiced by Kerry that Israel remove all Jewish communities in the Valley. There might be some IDF forces stationed for a period of time in the Valley, but they would subsequently be replaced by international (US?) forces. An unmitigated disaster.
I'm pleased to see, now, that the Jordan Valley Regional Council, representing 21 permanent Jewish communities, is up in arms about this proposal.
Says Council head David Elhayani:
Says Council head David Elhayani:
“The communities of the Jordan Valley will not sit silently in the face of the recent reports regarding a change in the Jordan Valley’s status, at least in the Americans’ eyes."
Residents are planning a campaign “to explain the importance to security of the Jordan Valley communities, to explain that this is important to the entire nation of Israel,” he said.
“We want the position that the Jordan Valley needs to be under Israeli sovereignty to have overwhelming support, so there will be no question mark hanging over the Jordan Valley’s future.”
Put simply, only residence by Israeli citizens ensures the permanence of an Israeli presence. If the communities are gone, and only a military presence exists in the area, it can be (it would be) dismissed. That presence is seen as a bulwark against invasion from the east, across the Jordan River.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon certainly sees it this way:
"He...stated earlier this month that he opposed the dismantling of the settlements there [in the Jordan Valley], since, he said, a civilian presence was critical to the viability of maintaining security control." (Emphasis added)
In fact, a number of Likud ministers feel so strongly about this that they are promoting legislation to annex the area and its access roads. This effort, spearheaded by Miri Regev, is expected to advance just so far and no further.
If the legislation had the full blessing of the prime minister, it would succeed. But Netanyahu, while insisting on a continued military presence in the Valley, has been less definitive about a continued civilian presence. He's not saying what his defense minister is saying -- he's leaving it to Ya'alon. The reason is fairly obvious: this would put Netanyahu in direct and public conflict with Kerry.
I cited a knowledgeable source on this the other day: Netanyahu, it is being surmised, will hold tight on Jerusalem, and his position will constitute a deal-breaker. Thus, as Netanyahu apparently sees it, it would be unnecessarily confrontational for him to insist on an Israeli civilian presence in the Valley, as there will be no deal.
But there comes a time when standing on our rights is something that must be done. Period.
It goes without saying that our very foolish chief Israeli negotiator, Tzipi Livni, is adamantly opposed to this. We don't want to interfere with the "peace process," after all.
With regard to the Jordan Valley, Yigal Alon, Deputy Prime Minister from 1967-69, proposed what was known as the Alon plan.
An interesting bit of history (see the map). This was right after Israel had acquired (liberated) Judea and Samaria from the Jordanians in a 1967 defensive war. Alon suggested that a large part of the area - in yellow - be returned to the Jordanians with a corridor from that area leading back into Jordan. (There was no talk of a "Palestinian state," folks.) His plan, however, called for retention of the Jordan Valley as part of Israel.
While it has long been discredited as inadequate with regard to safeguarding Israel, even this plan proposed a row of settlements along the Jordan River. This was in order to safeguard strategic control of the area, which was considered of prime importance. The first of the modern Israeli communities to be built in the area was established in 1968.
Now along comes Kerry, who knows better. Or knows nothing.
Aside from security issues, it is an outrage to the families of these communities to suggest they be evacuated. This was the area, my friends, where Joshua entered the Promised Land. Could it be much clearer: This is Jewish by heritage and right. We must keep saying this.
Some 60% of the population here is involved in agriculture -- either directly, or via related services. These are very permanent communities.
What their removal would do, aside from everything else, is set a horrific precedent: Well, see, it was OK to remove communities from the Jordan Valley, so why not remove them from Samaria, as well?
So, please, raise your voices on this issue:
Contact Prime Minister Netanyahu and urge him to stand strong at all cost against Kerry's Jordan Valley "security" plan:
Remind him that there are both security issues and more basic issues of Israel's rights -- and that as prime minister he needs to stand for all of this. Implore him not to consent to the dismantling of civilian communities in the Jordan Valley. Be brief (no lectures), and be polite.
Contact your representatives in Congress, as well, and protest this initiative by Kerry, pointing out the critical importance of permanent Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley.
Explain that it is Jordan as well as Israel that has serious concerns about Palestinian Arab control of the Jordan Valley.
Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in September (emphasis added):
"It is no secret that the Jordanians have long been worried about the repercussions of the presence of Palestinians on their border.
"In a recent closed briefing with a high-ranking Jordanian security official, he was asked about the kingdom's position regarding the possibility that Palestinians might one day replace Israel along the border with Jordan.
"'May God forbid!' the official retorted. 'We have repeatedly made it clear to the Israeli side that we will not agree to the presence of a third party at our border.'
"...Jordan's opposition to placing the border crossings with the West Bank under Palestinian control is not only based on security concerns.
"Of course, Jordan's security concerns are not unjustified, especially in light of what has been happening over the past few years along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
"The Egyptians are now paying a heavy price for neglecting their shared border with the Gaza Strip over the past few decades. This lapse has seen Sinai emerge as a hotbed for Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups that are now posing a serious threat to Egypt's national security.
"Besides the security concerns, the Jordanians are also worried about the demographic implications of Palestinian security and civilian presence over the border.
"Their worst nightmare, as a veteran Jordanian diplomat once told Israeli colleagues during a private encounter, is that once the Palestinians are given control over the border, thousands of them from the future Palestinian state would pour into Jordan.
"...Although the Jordanians are not part of the ongoing peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, they are hoping that Israel will not rush to abandon security control over its long border with the kingdom. Understandably, the Jordanian monarchy cannot go public with its stance for fear of being accused by Arabs and Muslims of treason and collaboration with the 'Zionist enemy.
"The Egyptians today know what the Jordanians have been aware of for a long time -- that a shared border with Fatah or Hamas or any other Palestinian group is a recipe for instability and anarchy. The Egyptians surely miss the days when the Israel Defense Forces were sitting along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip."
Never miss an opportunity to educate your elected representatives on these issues. There is a great deal that passes them by.
For your Congresspersons:
For your Senators:
And while you're at it, spread the word on this issue, which is not well understood, in other venues. Share this posting, write letters to the editor, post on Facebook and websites. Let people know the facts.
In my last posting I had alluded to an increase in terror attacks lately. Within the last week we've seen:
- A bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam after an alert passenger noticed it and averted a disaster by helping the other passengers get off safely just in time. Echoes of a horrendous time. Baruch Hashem tragedy was averted here.
- A day after, a rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel.
- A police officer was stabbed in the back at a checkpoint near Adam.
- And a sniper from Gaza killed an Israeli, Saleh Abu Latif, a 22-year-old Israeli Defense Ministry worker doing repairs on the fence at the Gaza border.
Israeli officials, particularly concerned about a reduction in deterrence, responded with an attack inside of Gaza. "This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered," said Netanyahu.
It is broadly understood that the terror attacks are initiated by radical groups trying to subvert "the peace process." There is, you see, typically, an increase in terror when we are negotiating.
The aforementioned very foolish Livni made a statement about how we won't let this stop us from negotiating.
But this is not clear-headed thinking. (Has Livni ever been clear-headed?) If "peace" negotiations invite violence, then obviously a "peace" agreement would invite major efforts to undo it. That is, peace, true peace is not possible. It would only be possible if all factions of the Palestinian Arabs were on-board for a comprehensive peace, and this is not remotely the case.
What is more, it is my own suspicion that blaming only terrorist groups in Gaza is simplistic. I strongly suspect that elements in Fatah (the majority party of the PA/PLO) endorse such attacks, as they hope this will make us more amenable to concessions. Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it should be noted, spoke in praise of the bus bombing but did not take credit for it.
Israeli security has announced a new terrorist threat in Judea and Samaria (not Gaza, note): The rise of al-Qaida-inspired Salafi-jihadi terrorist cells:
"Salafi-jihadi cell, armed with guns and explosives, set out from the Hebron area to carry out a series of attacks...
"...the cell's first intended step was to kidnap IDF soldiers and to carry out shooting and bomb attacks on Israelis.
"...Israeli intelligence sources say, the movement is first and foremost an ideology which appears to be gaining some ground, thanks to a power vacuum in the West Bank.
Read: Israeli Security Sees Rising West Bank Salafi-Jihadi Threat
While this was kept under control because of the vigilance of Israeli security, which tracked and then apprehended these terrorists, I invite you to imagine what the situation would be if Israel were no longer permitted to operate in the area.
And please note the reference to a "power vacuum" in Judea and Samaria (i.e., in PA controlled areas): The PA is not up to governing, no how.
What we're about to see -- on December 31 -- is the release of more terrorists as part of Netanyahu's commitment to release 104 in total over the course of the nine months of "negotiations" with the PA. The majority of the nation is against this, although our prime minister, insisting that he had to keep his word, intends to go ahead.
There are multiple reasons why this is a horrendous idea:
- It subverts justice, allowing murderers of Israelis who have been properly tried to go free before their sentences are complete. This fosters a disrespect for the justice system and weakens the motivation of those responsible for apprehending such terrorists.
- It is an act of moral failure with regard to sensitivity to the families of those killed by terrorists. A betrayal of this country's commitment to them to punish those responsible for their loved ones' deaths.
- It encourages terrorism because potential perpetrators of terrorism are led to believe that they will be able to find their way out of prison if they are caught. Netanyahu and Ya'alon are worried about "deterrence," but this weakens that deterrence.
- It invites additional terrorism because there is a high rate of recidivism among those released: they return to terror or abet terror.
And so why did Netanyahu agree to this? Because Kerry and Obama pushed for it, as Abbas had made it a condition for coming to the table.
Doesn't mean Israel had to agree.
At the time the conditions were spelled out, there was talk about our having to either agree to this or to a building freeze -- with Netanyahu deeming this the less objectionable choice. "Having to" is a seriously questionable phrase, but I do not for a moment make light of the pressure put on our prime minister. What he fears, I think is being accused within the international community of being the stumbling block to "peace."
There is a vast responsibility for this unacceptable situation to be laid at the feet of the US administration.
A ministerial committee for this purpose will be determining the precise terrorists to be released, and their names won't be made public until the last moment. The release is scheduled to take place late at night in an effort to mute publicity.
One issue of particular concern: A handful of those that the PA is demanding we release are Israeli Arabs. This would be abhorrent twice-over. Bad enough that the PA wants "their" people released, when they are convicted murderers. But to seek the release of Israeli citizens raises a host of other issues. Right now I do not know if they will be included.
At the time that the first two releases were done, the government simultaneously announced building in Judea and Samaria -- reportedly to appease right-wingers angry about the releases. In the face of accusations from the US and the PA that this was "undermining the peace process," government officials indicated that all parties understood up front that this was going to happen.
Recently the EU leveled threats at the Israeli government, warning that there had better not be more building announced when more prisoners are released, or there would be "repercussions." Uh oh, I thought. Would this intimidate Netanyahu?
And so I was pleased to see that this was not the case, for it is essential that the EU not be permitted to dictate to us in any respect: It was announced this week that the process towards more building would be advanced when the next group of terrorists was released.
And yet, this is not a satisfactory situation. The government should not be announcing building in Judea and Samaria in retaliation for something, or to appease a part of the Israeli electorate.
The government should be building routinely because we have the right: We have legal grounds. This is what must be said, and said, and said, until the international community begins to get it.
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