Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is allegedly seeking support and approval by the United States to enable the annexation of the Jordan Valley under the pretext that it is “a vital area to Israel’s security,” anonymous political sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The speculations come shortly after Netanyahu’s tour with US Security Advisor John Bolton around the West Bank on Sunday, in which the Israeli premier insisted that any future agreement regarding Palestine must first guarantee an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley.
“In any future peace agreement, our position is that Israel’s presence here must continue – for the security of Israel and for the security of all,” Netanyahu said, speaking on Israeli military control of the valley.
Netanyahu reiterated the importance of Israel’s interests in the area when he addressed his cabinet yesterday, announcing that the Israeli Army’s presence there “guarantees stability and security for the entire region.”
Bolton commented on the idea, saying that, “it’s too bad… that more Americans can’t come to locations like this, see the geography, understand its significance, understand how it affects Israel’s critical security position, and explain why Israel has taken the view that it has.”
Israeli premiers and military strategists have long strived to attain the Jordan Valley due to two primary reasons: the fertile farmland of the valley which the settlers already possess vast control over, and its geopolitical strategic significance. The West Bank is elevated and overlooks Israeli territory stretching to the sea to the west.
This geopolitical advantage has led many to speculate that it is only a matter of time before Israel annexes the entire West Bank. With almost 500 illegal settlements scattered around and encircling the Palestinian territory, it will not be a difficult acquisition.
Israel has already secured its diplomatic dominance over East Jerusalem and its military dominance over the Golan Heights on the border with Syria, which ensured that the Syrian and Arab armies cannot use the strategic advantage of the heights to fire down onto Israeli territory below.
Most of the Jordan Valley is classified as Area C, which means it is already under Israeli control. The Israeli Army has expelled entire Palestinian families from the valley in recent months and has conducted a number of military exercises there. The official annexation of the valley, however, would give it far greater control and would give it an increased military advantage in the area.