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Bibi insists on IDF control of Jordan valley – in Rabin’s name

This posting has these items on the Jordan valley.
1) JPost: Netanyahu: Border must remain in Jordan Valley – like Rabin said, October 16th, 2013;
2) Map of the Jordan valley;
3) ActiveStills: Ongoing Nakba in the Jordan Valley, photographer Anne Paq camps out with the Bedouin, 2011;
4) MidEastWeb: Last remarks by PM Rabin at Tel Aviv peace rally, the actual, brief last speech by Rabin was entirely about peace;
5) Rabin’s last speech to Knesset, October 5th 1995, 2 paragraphs from a long speech on peace agreement;
6) JPost: What happened to the Jordan valley?, 2010

The IDF order Bedouin cattle farmer in the Jordan Valley to leave, permanently

Netanyahu: Border must remain in Jordan Valley – like Rabin said

Marking 18 years since assassination, PM says strong IDF needed for peace; Yacimovich: Lesson is not to leave politics to extremists.

By Lahav Harkov, JPost
October 16, 2013

The government must stand up for its principles and ensure a strong IDF, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a Knesset meeting marking the 18th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“Our strength is the guarantee for our existence and peace. We do not want an Iranian offshoot in Judea and Samaria. This requires a security border in the Jordan Valley, as Rabin said in his last speech,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Netanyahu at Knesset ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin, October 16, 2013 Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

The prime minister spoke a day after Ma’ariv reported that peace talks were stuck on the issue of an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley, which the Palestinians oppose. Israel is refusing to budge on the matter.

“We prefer the current situation over a demilitarized state in a closed cage,” Ma’ariv columnist Shalom Yerushalmi quoted a Palestinian official as saying.

Speaking in the Knesset, with Rabin’s children and grandchildren present after a ceremony at his grave on Mount Herzl, Netanyahu pointed to the IDF’s power as essential for the country’s long-term survival.

“The government stands up for its principles. It’s important that we have the tools to defend our country. Rabin acted to insure the strength of the IDF to ensure our future. Without the IDF, our fate would be like that of our nation in the Diaspora,” the prime minister said.

“The IDF stands between us and destruction, even when there are peace agreements,” he stated.

There would be no pardon for Rabin’s murderer, Yigal Amir, and he never should be pardoned, Netanyahu said.

Funeral of Yitzhak Rabin, November 6th 1995, the day after he was assassinated. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu had accused Rabin’s government of being “removed from Jewish tradition … and Jewish values” and addressed protesters at increasingly extreme rallies. Rabin accused Netanyahu of provoking violence.Photo by Abbas/Magnum photos.

“We learned our lesson, not to have wars and murderers between us. Our leaders knew that this should not happen. That is why we were so shocked [by the assassination]. It is a warning sign that we must hold in front of the nation,” the prime minister said.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein spoke of the importance of educating against violence.

“We cannot make the mistake of romanticism, of saying, ‘It won’t happen to us,’” Edelstein said. “We have to prepare the forces to deal with violence on a practical level, immediately. We must explain again and again that violence is not a shortcut. We have to teach adults, youth and children that political violence is an injustice, that it is stupid to take the law into your own hands.”

Edelstein acknowledged that he did not share Rabin’s political opinions. But he said the lesson from the assassination was that democracy and political discourse must be strengthened, and that the Knesset had an important role to play in reinforcing those values.

Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich also emphasized the importance of democratic values.

“Ideological debate is the air that democracy breathes, but some things are not controversial. Rabin was murdered for executing the policy for which he was democratically elected to lead. He did not surprise his voters; he did exactly what he promised. That’s why he was elected and that’s why he was murdered,” Yacimovich said.

To heal the wounds to democracy, we must remember the violent atmosphere preceding the assassination, she added.

“We didn’t know then to what depths we would sink, how demonstrations, which a democracy must allow, became legitimization of murder,” she said.

The lesson the Labor Party chairwoman learned from this is the importance of political participation, that “it is not enough to elect a leader every few years and then politically go to sleep. The ‘street’ cannot be left to the extreme fringes. Our job is to protect our leaders and be on the street to prevent it from being looted by extremists.”

The Jordan Valley. The river Jordan flows from Syria through 3 bodies of water, Lake Hula, Lake Galilee to the Dead Sea. The green marks low-lying land which, because this is where the river flows, provides some of the best arable land in the region.

Ongoing Nakba in the Jordan Valley.

By Anne Paq,
March 30, 2011

For Land day I want to talk about what happened last week in the Jordan Valley.

Last week I went in the Jordan Valley to continue my work with Activestills on forced displacement of populations. My little trip could have been almost idyllic, sleeping in a tent with a Palestinian family in a beautiful setting. Spring transforms the nature and the valley has turned green and is covered in places with flowers. Most residents of the Jordan Valley are Bedouins. They have a simple life but it has become difficult to sustain because of the restrictions on freedom of movement they face. For their livestock to have enough pasture, they used to move between several locations, but now it is almost impossible to find spots between the areas taken by the settlers, those declared “military training area” or “natural areas”. It remains almost nothing left for the Palestinians and many Bedouins were forced to abandon their traditional lifestyle and go to cities.

But some resist and refuse to leave or work in the settlements. This is the case of the family Daraghma. Nabil is a Bedouin. He lives in a tent with his 4 children and his wife. They move around but for the last 15 years they have been regularly staying on a piece of lands that belongs to the Church. Last Tuesday I was in the valley with the Jordan Valley Solidarity group when we learned on Wednesday morning that during the night, a group of settlers put a tent a few meters away from the tent of Nabil. We went there and Nabil told us how he had been threatened in recent days by the Israeli army and police who ordered him to leave, of course without having shown any official paper. But Nabil refused, and “coincidentally” a large group of settlers came shortly after the middle of the night. The strategy is fairly simple: the settlers set up a tent, the Israeli army arrives and for reasons of “security” evacuates everyone. Ultimately of course the land is vacant and will soon be taken by the settlers.

I stayed all day with other volunteers with the family and also Wednesday night. The settlers were constantly making trips back and forth, armed of course with rifles and guns. The soldiers also came in late afternoon, saying again to Nabil that he had leave and that if he did not demolish his tent itself they would do it tomorrow.

The night was pretty rough. The settlers directed their spotlights at the Palestinian tent and made the most noise possible. At one point an armed settler tried also to encourage his dog to attack the dogs of the Palestinians. During the night settlers attacked the animals by throwing stones at them. We could hear them laughing and walking around the tent. They also urinated on the water tanks of the Palestinians.

The next day I had to leave but Keren, another photographer from our photo group, replaced me. She stayed with the family and called me the next day to tell me that the tent had been demolished. The family refused to leave the tent and had been dragged out by soldiers as well as some Israeli and international activists who were with them. Everyone was pushed down to the road and the area was declared a closed military zone until the next day 7am. The family was therefore in the street without any of their things. With the help of volunteers they tried to rebuild a tent, but the Israeli police immediately came to tell them that it was forbidden. The settlers also left with their tent, but they had succeeded : a Palestinian family was evicted from a land they covet.

The Daraghma family spent the night in the tent that serves as a school. The next day I joined them for the grim task of recovering their belongings which were all buried under the destroyed tent and of moving elsewhere. The whole family climbed the hill and in silence collected their things and out them in a tractor. They also recovered the structure of the tent, but some parts were broken. Tomatoes and cucumbers, the small gas cooker, everything was still in place under the destroyed tent. The children were remarkably calm and helped as much as they can. Then we went a few miles away to Al-Maleh. I watched the mother behind its Palestinian children carrying bags as they walked from the road to reach to their new place. Looking at them, I could only think back to those images of Palestinians in 1948 when they were driven from their villages and took the road with their things. The Nakba, the catastrophe as the Palestinians call it, continues today but in a more insidious way, slowly but surely.

With the help of everyone, the tent was up in a few hours, still with some parts missing because some of the bars were broken. A plastic cover was given to replace the torn one.

Even with the tent up, Nabil did not seem so relieved, he obviously knew that the army might come back. And indeed in the afternoon the soldiers visited us. The army initially tried to play the intimidation trick: “you have 10 minutes to go and demolish the tent!” A soldier also told Nabil that they monitored him 24 jour a day and that they would destroy his tent wherever he decides to put it: he must go to Tubas, they said. Tubas is the nearest town, and Nabil has twenty cows: where is he supposed to put them? The army also tried to play the “nice” tome trick: they wanted to make Nabil believe of he goes now, then after two weeks they would forget about him and that he could come back.

But Nabil was not fooled and refused to leave. And when we asked the army to show the demolition order, the soldiers told us that they would bring it the next day. The soldiers are really acting like cowboys, brutal and arrogant. They think that if they just bark at the Palestinians, they will leave their lands, but the soldiers are unable to see how deep the roots of the Palestinians are. They will not be able to uproot them.

I spent another night under the tent with the family. All our mattresses were bonded as if that would protect us better, unless this was just one way to keep warm. The night was quiet, the stars were beautiful, and everything would have been perfect if it was not the fear of being awakened by the soldiers. I left the next day, asking myself if I’m going to see again this family walking with their bags to their next destination, leaving room for settlers and soldiers who can not even leave a family of 6, their 20 cows, their horse and donkey in peace. This is just one example but the multiplication of the similar cases indicates a clear policy: that of a forced population transfer from the zones “c” (areas of the Palestinian that are totally controlled according to Oslo agreements by the Israelis) to areas “a”, areas which are “controlled” by Palestinian Authority.

I just learned that three Bedouin families have also received notice of evacuation. Tomorrow I will return to the valley.

Collecting their belongings after their tent was demolished.

November 4, 1995

From MidEastWeb

Permit me to say that I am deeply moved. I wish to thank each and every one of you, who have come here today to take a stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I am privileged to head, together with my friend Shimon Peres, decided to give peace a chance — a peace that will solve most of Israel’s problems.

I was a military man for 27 years. I fought so long as there was no chance for peace. I believe that there is now a chance for peace, a great chance. We must take advantage of it for the sake of those standing here, and for those who are not here — and they are many.

I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace and are ready to take risks for peace. In coming here today, you demonstrate, together with many others who did not come, that the people truly desire peace and oppose violence. Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated. This is not the way of the State of Israel. In a democracy there can be differences, but the final decision will be taken in democratic elections, as the 1992 elections which gave us the mandate to do what we are doing, and to continue on this course.

I want to say that I am proud of the fact that representatives of the countries with whom we are living in peace are present with us here, and will continue to be here: Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, which opened the road to peace for us. I want to thank the President of Egypt, the King of Jordan, and the King of Morocco, represented here today, for their
partnership with us in our march towards peace.

But, more than anything, in the more than three years of this Government’s existence, the Israeli people has proven that it is possible to make peace, that peace opens the door to a better economy and society; that peace is not just a prayer. Peace is first of all in our prayers, but it is also the aspiration of the Jewish people, a genuine aspiration for peace.

There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace. We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This is a course which is fraught with difficulties and pain. For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this Government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, is will be possible to make peace.

This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you.

Speech courtesy of Jackie Shane as listed on GOVDOC-L@PSUVM.PSU.EDU

Rabin’s last speech to Knesset, October 5th 1995

Yitzhak Rabin’s last speech to the knesset was on Ratification of the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement. In it he mentioned the Jordan Valley twice, as follows, neither of which states that all the Jordan valley must be controlled by Israeli security forces for Israel’s security.:

“B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

“The agreement includes dozens and hundreds more details, among them, elections, including the manner of voting by the Palestinians in united Jerusalem who did not want Israeli citizenship as proposed to them by Israeli governments, water, electricity, expansion of the Jericho area by 10% without affecting the lives of the residents of the Jordan Valley, safe passage and more. In the time available today, we cannot relate to every detail separately and you will see that all of these matters are addressed in the Agreement before you.”

What happened to the Jordan valley?

By Dore Gold, JPost
January 17, 2010

Speaking before Israel´s ambassadors from around the world two weeks ago, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained his view about how to create effective security arrangements in the event of an Israeli- Palestinian peace settlement. He decided to stress that to safeguard the demilitarization of the West Bank, it was vital for the IDF to maintain a military presence along the points of entry to the territories from the east, in order to prevent these areas from being penetrated and flooded by smuggled weaponry.

In short, without going into details, Netanyahu was reminding his diplomats about the critical importance of the Jordan Valley for the future security of Israel.

Netanyahu was following a long tradition of prime ministers who saw the Jordan Valley as the front line of Israel´s defense. One month before he was assassinated, Yitzhak Rabin appeared in the Knesset on October 5, 1995 and outlined how he viewed the country´s future borders. He first declared that “Israel will not return to the lines of June 4, 1967” and then stated that “the security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept.”

Clearly, Rabin did not want to defend Israel along the narrow river line, where Israeli forces would be exposed to hostile fire from immediately adjacent high ground. Instead, he sought to exploit the steep eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge that rise to a maximal height of 3,000 feet from the river bed which is below sea- level. In an interview in Haaretz on April 14, 2005, Ariel Sharon explained that Israel must control the Jordan Valley from the hill ridge above the Allon Road.

YET IN the public discourse over Israel´s future borders, it seems as though the question of the Jordan Valley has been forgotten for three reasons.

First, when military planners in the past talked about the importance of the Jordan Valley, Israel was still at war with the Kingdom of Jordan and concerned about the emergence of an eastern front, including Iraqi expeditionary forces. Since Israel now has ties with Jordan, and Saddam Hussein´s Iraq was badly weakened in 1991 and occupied in 2003 by the British and the Americans, some have argued that Israel no longer needs the Jordan Valley.

Second, once prime ministers started talking about giving up 88, 93 or 97 percent of the West Bank, they stopped talking about the Jordan Valley. After all, the whole area is approximately 33% to 40% of the West Bank. A diplomatic strategy of holding on to the Jordan Valley contradicted their peace proposals, which became increasingly motivated by the question of what would be acceptable to the Palestinians rather than what was necessary for Israel´s security.

Third, in the public discourse on the future of the West Bank, the major constraint in the last 10 years on any significant withdrawal became the large settlements that were part of heavily populated blocs, like Ariel, Givat Ze´ev, Ma´aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion. After the tragedy of the disengagement, those drawing lines for peace proposals sought to squeeze as many settlers into as minimal an area as they could find. They either forgot about Israel´s security needs or just assumed that if Kassams were fired from the West Bank, the IDF could easily retake the whole area in a few hours (this was before the Second Lebanon War and Cast Lead showed the complexities of such ground operations in densely populated areas, when future Goldstone Reports might be issued).

IT IS now well-understood by the Israeli public that the most crucial error of disengagement was abandoning the Philadelphi Corridor between the Gaza Strip and Egyptian Sinai, which allowed Hamas to build a vast tunnel network, with minimal Israeli countermeasures, and smuggle a huge arsenal into the Gaza Strip. From 2005, when Israel left Gaza, to 2006, the rate of rocket fire increased by 500%. New weapons, like Grad missiles, were fired for the first time at Ashkelon after the pullout. It does not require much imagination to understand what would happen in Judea and Samaria if Israel left the Jordan Valley – which should be seen as the Philadelphi Corridor of the West Bank.

For example, up until now, Israel has not had to deal with SA-7 shoulder-fired rockets that could be aimed at aircraft over Ben- Gurion Airport, because it is difficult to smuggle them into the West Bank as long as the area is blocked by the IDF in the Jordan Valley. Nor has Israel had to face Islamist volunteers who reinforce Hamas and could prolong a future war, like those who joined the jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen or Somalia, because Israel can deny them access to the West Bank.

In fact, in its annual survey for 2009, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) noted that while there has been a decrease in the terrorist threat to Israel, the only exception to this positive trend is the increasing involvement of global jihadi groups, who at present are building up a presence in the Gaza Strip. Clearly they would be in the West Bank if they could get there.

WHAT ABOUT the Jordanians? Why does Israel have to stay in the Jordan Valley if the Jordanian army intercepts units of al-Qaida coming from Iraq or Syria?

The fact of the matter is that if Israel withdrew from the Jordan Valley and it became known among the global jihadi groups that the doors to the West Bank were open, the scale of the threat would change and the Jordanians would find it difficult to effectively halt the stream of manpower and weaponry into their territory.

Clearly Jordan itself would be destabilized by this development. This is exactly what happened in 2005 when al-Qaida in Iraq set up an infrastructure in Jordan and attacked hotels and government buildings. This is also what happened during Black September in 1970, when the Jordanian army had to confront a massive Palestinian military presence and a civil war ensued. Besides, should Jordan have a common border with a Palestinian state, Palestinian irredentism toward the East Bank would undoubtedly increase.

More than 30 years ago, when foreign minister Yigal Allon – who had been Rabin´s commander and mentor in the Palmah during 1948 – was summarizing his plan for “defensible borders” for Israel in Foreign Affairs, he simply said that if Israel wanted to be sure that the areas from which it withdrew would remain demilitarized, it must keep the Jordan Valley. Allon was writing in 1976, but his analysis remains as relevant as ever today.

The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and served as Israel´s ambassador to the United Nations. (© 1995 – 2010 The Jerusalem Post. 01/17/10)

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