Stop the Blow
Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Reichman University | June 4, 2020
(Op-ed published in Yediot Aharonot | 13 May, 2020)
Security is the supreme value. There is no need for annexation because our position is well known, and if we annex for declaration sake, in practice this will undermine Israel's position and diminish capability in practice.
The annexation plan is a blow that is liable to inflict great damage to the national security of Israel. The crux of the problem lies in such a step undermining the stability of our eastern border.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has become an ally of Israel, turning its territory into a strategic depth zone for Israel that extends to the Iraqi border. This is a security zone where unlike in the past, today there are no incursions of terror from Jordan. Except for a small handful of incidents, the eastern border has been a quiet border. A 'stealth hand' foils attacks, much thanks to the effectiveness of the Jordanians and cooperation with Israel that is a strategic asset.
All this is liable to change the minute Israel executes annexation- a step that will be viewed in the eyes of Jordan as a breach of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty.
If Jordan's hold on the reins of government will be challenged, the 'appetite' of Iran and Hezbollah to gain a foothold in Jordan (and everyone wants a foothold there) will grow. Why undermine Israel's own security with illogical political moves?
The calm in the Jordan Valley and the security that exists there, rest on cooperation with Jordan and a security reality in Judea and Samaria advantageous to Israel that has been achieved through a lot of blood and toil.
One needs to remember that the Palestinian Authority is the product of agreements between us and the PLO. The minute the fate of the prospects of a process for a diplomatic settlement (no matter how slim) is sealed-lost, there is no reason for the Palestinians authority to exist and anything could happen The most likely scenario, where annexation brings erosion in the situation in Judea and Samara, is most worrisome. Dismantle of the Palestinian Authority would provide proof that justifies the path of Hamas and their like, who hold the best way to deal with Israel is through violence and terrorism, and the proof of this will be the collapse of Abu-Mazen. Why undermine with our own hands the invaluable gain of stability in the security situation in Judea and Samara?
The collapse of the Palestinian Authority will spell a return to direct military occupation. This might be a needless burden, security-wise, morally and economically. The burden on the army would grow, at a cost to the IDF's preparedness and training programs. At a time of threats from the north and south, a tranquil eastern front is an asset that should not simple be thrown away. Who knows this better than the chiefs-of-staff in recent years, who grasp the security value of Jordan to Israel's national security? One should add that indeed they themselves played a significant role in building these ties with Jordan.
From a diplomatic standpoint as well, with annexation we are liable to open an avoidable battlefront with important countries in Europe. This has economic importance. Moreover, from a moral standpoint, we are liable to find ourselves in increasingly stormy waters, on a collision course with international law.
Calculation of the many consequences lay heavy, and all lead to a Hebrew expression that appears to be tailored to the outcome of such a step: Bechi l'dorot ('something to weep over for generations')
It would be preferable to strengthen Israel's hold on the Jordan Valley in another way -- not in a populist step that is liable to increase the heightened anti-Israel sentiment, that already exists in any case among the Jordanian public. For example, to create conditions that would cause tens of thousands of Israelis to go live in the Jordan Valley, not a few thousand.
Security is of supreme value. There is no need for a move such as this since our position is well known, and if Israel carries out annexation, our position will only be undermined for the sake of a declaration of a capability whose execution will only diminish it.
All this comes prior to the bigger question: What will be the character of Israel - if there will be one state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea that won't have a Jewish majority? Now that is certainly a threat to our future!
Written by Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS)
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