(February 13, 2023 / JNS)
Leaders from across the Israeli political spectrum on Sunday called on the government to declare Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.
In a panel discussion organized by NGO “Ribonut” (sovereignty), Knesset member Dan Illuz (Likud) told JNS, “Sovereignty in the Jordan Valley is a crucial goal for the entire state of Israel,”
Many speakers emphasized that sovereignty not only enjoys broad political consensus in Israel today, but is moreover more achievable than sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria.
“There is no debate between the coalition and the opposition about the Jordan Valley, it is a crucial piece of Israel from every perspective,” said MK Shiran Haskel (National Unity).
Yehudit Katsover, one of the founders of “Ribonut,” said, “The Jordan Valley falls in broad consensus between the left and the right. Everyone agrees, so this is a very achievable reality.”
Illuz emphasized the cultural significance of the region.
“This is the place where Joshua crossed into the land—this is where it all began. The Jordan Valley is the very lifeblood of the Jewish people,” he said, adding, “Without the Jordan Valley there is no Israel.”
IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, who also spoke at the panel, told JNS, “This land flows with Jewish history. It is in every rock and bush. That is why our sovereignty here is not even a question, it’s just a question of how to actualize it.”
Illuz announced the formation of a new Knesset caucus to advance the cause of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, and said that he would be calling the new caucus “beginning with the Jordan Valley” to emphasize his belief that sovereignty there would lead to sovereignty in all of Judea in Samaria.
Many panel participants seconded this opinion.
“When we show the world that we have achieved sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and they see how beautiful this land becomes, this will be the first step to sovereignty in the whole land of Israel,” said Haskel.
Nor would declaring sovereignty over the Jordan Valley send the message that Israel did not seek or claim sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, said Gush Etzion regional council head Shlomo Ne’eman.
In a video address to the panel, Ne’eman said, “The [Jordan] Valley is the gateway to the rest of Israel; by saying strongly that it is part of the state of Israel we would only be beginning our project. Taking a little does not mean you don’t want a lot.”
Dayan echoed the sentiment, saying, “We must always take what is ours, even if it is less than we deserve.”
Several speakers also focused on the Jordan Valley’s strategic importance, arguing that the area, which serves as the geographical border between Israel and Jordan, is an invaluable security asset to Israel.
Dayan explained that it offered an easily defensible border, significantly reducing the manpower needed to protect Israel from the east. He further noted that losing the Jordan Valley would reduce Israel’s width to a nearly indefensible length of fewer than 40 miles.
“A country needs a defensible depth,” he told JNS. “It is just not serious to have a well-defended Israel without the Jordan Valley.”
He finally noted that the loss of the Jordan Valley would likely result in the entrenchment of terror operatives in the area, threatening Israeli citizens. Lt. Col. (res.) Yaron Buskila, who heads the Israel security non-profit Israel Defense and Security Forum, agreed, further noting the recent spike in weapon smuggling from Jordan.
Illuz also called sovereignty “the best response to terror,” further noting that the building up of Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley would be an important factor in weakening Arab national claims. According to David Elhayani, the head of the regional council of the Jordan Valley and the previous CEO of the Yesha council, “One of the main points of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley is that it puts an end to any aspiration for a two-state solution.”
Coalition representatives on the panel concluded the event by committing themselves to advancing sovereignty in the Jordan Valley in the coming weeks. Minister of National Missions Orit Strook and chairman of the Likud Party Danny Danon, who both addressed the panel via video, expressed their support for the project and committed to advancing the agenda in the Knesset.
“All of us together in our collective efforts must dedicate ourselves to make sure this promise comes true,” said Minister Strook. MK Illuz further told JNS, “The excuses are over, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t push through sovereignty.”
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