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The Allon Plan: Then and now

With some slight changes, President Donald Trump resuscitated the original plan for parts of the West Bank put forth by left-wing Israeli party member Yigal Allon and gave it the imprimatur of the U.S. government.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, 1977. Credit: Wikipedia/Government Press Office.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, 1977. Credit: Wikipedia/Government Press Office.
Julio Messer

Yigal Allon was one of the founders of the left-wing Mapam party and one of the stalwarts of Israel’s leftist establishment for 40 years. Shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, he presented to the Israeli cabinet a plan designed to give Israel defensible borders without significantly impacting its demographic balance. With regard to the territory west of the Jordan River that had fallen into Israeli hands as a result of that defensive war, it called for the eventual extension of Israeli sovereignty to a strip of land 10 to 15 kilometers wide along the river and the Dead Sea, the Latrun salient, Gush Etzion, eastern Jerusalem and a corridor linking it to the Jordan Valley. No exact figures were provided, but according to a confidential CIA memorandum, “the proposed zone would have an area of about 700 square miles or one-third of the total area of the West Bank.”

Interestingly, according to published excerpts of the minutes of the cabinet meeting June 19, 1967, Allon stated that “the last thing we must do is to return one inch of the West Bank [to Jordan]. We must not view [the Hashemite regime] as existing forever.”

He thus favored the creation of a Palestinian state in the remaining two-thirds—“not a canton, not an autonomous region, but an independent Arab state agreed on between us and them in an enclave surrounded by Israeli territory, independent even in its foreign policy.”

Nevertheless, as per then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s instructions, Allon personally presented an unofficial map of his plan to King Hussein of Jordan on Sept. 27, 1967. Hussein rejected it out of hand as “insulting.”

“The Allon Plan” put forth by Yigal Allon. Source: Dartmouth University.

In accordance with the concepts of what came to be known as the “Allon Plan,” the 1967-1977 Labor governments established 21 Jewish communities along the Jordan Valley and eastern slopes of Samaria during that period.

Although never officially endorsed, the plan served as a basis for the center-left Labor Party election platforms in 1974, 1977, 1981, 1984 and 1987. Even after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin never abandoned the defensible eastern border concept outlined by Allon (who had been his Palmach commander during the Independence War). On Oct. 5, 1995, barely one month before his tragic assassination, Rabin declared to the Knesset plenum: “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest sense of that term.”

The Allon Plan was never deemed acceptable by successive U.S. administrations, the Arab world or the United Nations. It was effectively killed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a Rabin protégé, when he proposed “security arrangements” in lieu of an Israeli defensible border in the Jordan Valley.

And it was virtually buried by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he presented his final-status map to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, which showed no Israeli permanent presence in the Jordan Valley.

U.S. President Donald Trump resuscitated Allon’s original plan with slight changes and gave it the imprimatur of the American government with his own long-awaited “Peace to Prosperity” Middle East peace vision. Except for the Ariel settlement bloc and islands of isolated Jewish communities, all other areas to which Israel would be applying Israeli law were part of the Allon Plan (including Ma’ale Adumim and the E1 zone), totaling a very similar 30 percent of the territory. The remaining 70 percent (plus land swaps) would be a demilitarized Palestinian state without direct access to Jordan.

The irony of it all is that the Allon Plan, conceived by a left-wing Israeli minister more than five decades ago, was finally approved in a slightly modified form by a right-wing U.S. president.

Julio Messer is a former president of American Friends of Likud.

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