During the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty ceremony, top Jordanian military officers told their Israeli counterparts that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime. They said it would transform Jordan into an uncontrollable terrorist haven, haunting the highly vulnerable pro-U.S. regimes of the oil-producing Gulf states, as well as Egypt.
In June 1967, Israel gained control over the topographically dominant mountain ridges of the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria in a preemptive war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which dramatically enhanced its posture of deterrence.
Israel was transformed by the war into a violence-deterring national security producer and eventually evolved into a unique force multiplier for the United States, constraining the maneuverability of anti-U.S. rogue entities.
The mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, 3,000 feet above the Jordan Valley and 2,000 feet above pre-1967 Israel, play a major role in ensuring the survival of Israel, the Hashemite regime in Jordan and Jordan’s neighbors in the Arabian Peninsula.
Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria has eliminated much of the threat to Jordan and others from Judea/Samaria-based Palestinian terrorism and has deterred domestic and regional anti-Hashemite elements.
For example, in 2022, Iranian-inspired tension along the Syria-Jordan border—from the Golan Heights to Iraq—has intensified. It features Iranian-made drones and cyberattacks on Jordan, as well as increased infiltration by Syria-based Iranian terrorists, arms smugglers and drug traffickers. Iran’s ayatollahs aim to topple the Hashemite regime, extending their reach toward the Mediterranean, undermining the U.S.’s strategic posture in the Middle East and intensifying the lethal threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Jordan may not have been able to face the escalated Iranian threat on its own. While it did not rely on an effective U.S. or Arab military deployment, it saw Israel as its only proven ally that had already flexed its military muscle against Iran. Moreover, Israel’s posture of deterrence emboldened Jordan in the face of the Iranian threat, as it did against prior threats posed to the Hashemite regime from the Syrian front.
For example, on Sept. 18, 1970, pro-Soviet Syria invaded Jordan in an attempt to topple the Hashemite regime, which was entangled in a civil war against Palestinian terrorist organizations. A successful invasion would have triggered an anti-U.S. domino effect throughout the Arabian Peninsula, at a time when America was heavily dependent upon Persian Gulf oil.
However, the invasion was rolled back on September 23, largely due to Israel’s posture of deterrence, which emboldened the Jordanian military and deterred Syria. Israel’s deterrence spared the United States the need to deploy its own troops in order to avoid an economic and national security disaster. It denied the USSR a strategic bonanza.
Israel would not possess such pro-U.S. strategic clout if it were not in control of the Golan Heights and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria.
An Israeli retreat from the overpowering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria would obliterate Israel’s posture of deterrence and deny the U.S. a major force-multiplier. It would transform Jordan’s western border (with the proposed Palestinian state) into the straw that broke the Hashemite back, converting Jordan into a platform for anti-U.S. global Islamic terrorism in the mold of Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, intensifying the threat to all pro-U.S. Arab regimes.
The impact of the proposed Palestinian state on the region and U.S. interests is best assessed against the backdrop of the Palestinian track record:
- The intra-Arab Palestinian track record of subversion and terrorism against Egypt (1950s), Syria (1960s), Jordan (1970), Lebanon (1970s) and Kuwait (1990).
- The close Palestinian ties with Nazi Germany, the USSR, Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, European and Latin American terrorist organizations, Iran’s ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela.
- The Palestinian reaction to the unprecedented Israeli concessions of 1993, which included relocating the PLO leadership and 100,000 Palestinian terrorists to Gaza, Judea and Samaria; retreating from 40% of Judea and Samaria; and offering to retreat to the pre-1967 lines. The Palestinians responded to these concessions with a massive terrorist war. In 2005, Israel uprooted all Jewish communities and IDF presence from Gaza; the result was two decades of rocket attacks and terrorism. There is also the Palestinians’ unprecedented hate-education, mosque incitement, terrorism, glorification of suicide bombers, systematic violation of commitments, oppression of their own people and forcing a massive flight of Christians.
Based on the Palestinians’ well-documented track record (rather than a speculative future track record), the proposed Palestinian state would be a rogue entity, adding fuel to the Middle East fire, adversely affecting the U.S. economy and national security, adding an anti-U.S. vote to the U.N. and enhancing Russia, China and Iran’s strategic foothold in the critical intersection of Europe-Asia-Africa between the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
Since leopards don’t change spots—only tactics—the proposed Palestinian state, on the one hand, and U.S. values and national security interests, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was originally published by The Ettinger Report.