Israel needs to be careful when making concessions to the Palestinian Authority, Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) warned Thursday.
While concessions are generally assumed to make diplomacy easier, in fact, concessions that weaken Israel’s defenses will only put peace further from reach, he told Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel) radio.
Edelstein praised initiatives to keep the Jordan Valley in particular from being handed over to the PA. MK Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) recently initiated a law to annex the strategically important region in an attempt to ensure it remains in Israel’s hands.
Edelstein noted that he supports the view that legislature that directly touches on diplomatic issues should be left to the government. However, he said, in this case MK Regev’s initiative will help the government.
MK Omer Bar-Lev of the Labor party spoke to Kol Yisrael as well. In contrast to Edelstein, Bar-Lev argued that Israel will ultimately need to demolish the Israeli towns in the Jordan Valley and to hand control over most of the area to the PA.
However, Bar-Lev agreed that Israel cannot abandon the area entirely, for security reasons. Israel must maintain a presence along the Jordanian border in order to prevent the kind of weapons smuggling seen in Gaza, he warned.
Hamas has succeeded in smuggling large quantities of weapons into Gaza from Egypt, including medium-range missiles, which it has used to fire on civilian cities in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem regions.
MK Bar-Lev proposed that Israel maintain a security strip 2-3 kilometers in width along the Jordanian border, and put the rest of the Jordan Valley in PA hands.