Major General Nitzan Alon, the Head of the IDF's Central Command, met leaders of the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria Sunday and attempted to allay their concerns about a possible agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding the final status of the Jordan Valley in a future permanent accord.
An audio recording of the general's statements reached daily newspaper Yisrael Hayom, which published it.
"We are involved in this matter since before it reached the headlines," Alon said. "We knew that this question would come up and that the military would be asked for its opinion. We dealt with this in the previous round [of peace talks] already, in the time of the Olmert government in 2007.
"All that has happened in the Middle East – the regional upheaval, stability problems and everything that is going on in Syria – only help our arguments. Our argument is that the Jordan Valley is a strategic buffer for Israel."
Alon said that it is true that "strategic relations" need to be developed with Jordan, which would then provide an additional buffer zone, but insisted that this does not make Israel's position regarding the Jordan Valley any less solid.
The Israeli arguments regarding Jordan Valley are "a rare case in which we succeeded in being influential," Alon added, "including [convincing] the American professional elements opposite whom we worked. They represented our positions." This was a reference to US Special Envoy General John Allen, explained Yisrael Hayom.
"This does not mean there are no tensions ," Major General Alon added, giving the PA's demands for sovereignty, among other things, as an example. However, he said, an agreement regarding the Jordan Valley is still nothing but "an unborn egg." His personal level of confidence in the negotiations process is "not high," he said.