Jack Cohen – The Jordan Valley Issue
Tomorrow is the voting for Israel’s latest election, and the main issue being fought out on the right is the Jordan Valley Issue. As PM Netanyahu seeks to draw support away from his far-right opponents, principally the Yamina (Right) Party that is a coalition of smaller right-wing parties, he has high-lighted the Jordan Valley as an issue in the campaign. He has held a cabinet meeting there for the first time, had the cabinet vote to legalize a new Jordan Valley settlement there named Mevo’ot Yericho, and has stated that Israel will annex the Jordan Valley if he is elected PM. One might ask why he has not done all of these things before while he has been PM? That is what the Yamina Party leader Ayelet Shaked is doing, saying that his promises can’t be trusted. But, nevertheless, Netanyahu is in the best position to deliver on his promises.
The Jordan Valley is a good place to start Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, that should have been part of Israel from its beginning (only Labor Party leaders such as Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan thought they could do a deal with the Arabs over this, but they were mistaken). The Jordan Valley is a good place to choose for several reasons: 1. It delineates the eastern border of Israel; 2. It is an important defensive line against attacks from the east, given that it protects the heights of the hills of Samaria (Shomron) and the few passes that would allow an enemy to go through them; 3. It is very sparsely populated given the very hot, humid climate there. so that there are very few Palestinian Arabs living there
Apart from the issue of the Jordan Valley and the more general issue of annexation of Jewish centers in the West Bank, there are many other issues at stake. The most significant is the ultra-orthodox parties (UTJ and Shas) that make voting for them a matter of religious conviction for their supporters, and the opposition to them by the militant secular parties such as Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitanu. Who will get enough votes and who will form coalitions with whom we will know tomorrow or the day after. Let’s hope there is not another stalemate.