Former Mossad head Meir Dagan has declared that Israel could survive without maintaining a presence in the Jordan Valley, Maariv/nrg reports. Other experts have warned that Israel’s presence in the area is crucial.
“The Jordan Valley is not vital to Israel’s security,” Dagan reportedly said, speaking at the Majdi Forum conference in Kfar Saba.
The Jordan Valley has become a sticking point in Israel-PA talks as the PA demands full control of the region - something Israeli experts warn would make Judea and Samaria a second Gaza. Other sticking points include the status of Jerusalem and the PA's demand for the "right of return" for millions of foreign-born Arabs.
Dagan reportedly stated that he does not care what Palestinian Arabs want, but said that for Israel’s sake, he would like to see the government make concessions to the Palestinian Authority. Failure to do so could lead Israel to become a binational Jewish-Arab state, he warned.
“To me, at least, that would mean the end of the Zionist dream. I’m not looking at this from the Palestinian perspective. To put it bluntly – they don’t interest me. What matters to me is what happens in this country and what will happen here for those who follow us, what we leave for future generations” he stated.
Dagan’s concern over the prospect of a binational state is commonly voiced on the Israeli left. Those who support maintaining Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria have argued that withdrawal, not Arab population growth, is the real demographic threat.
Dagan’s statements regarding the Jordan Valley were roundly criticized. Among the critics was MK Motti Yogev of the Jewish Home party.
“With all the respect I have for former Mossad head, and retired General, Meir Dagan – it is well known that he is politically left-wing, just as it is known that I am politically right-wing,” Yogev said.
Dagan has been mistaken on vital security issues in the past, Yogev argued. “We’ve already seen how Dagan and his ‘former’ friends from the left supported the Oslo talks, and the Disengagements from Gaza – and what the consequences were,” he said.
Israel cannot rely on a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinian Authority to shape the country’s future, he warned. “The Palestinian Authority, and the Arab League, too, see any agreement with us as a deal with non-believers,” he stated. Under Islamic tradition, such an agreement not only can be, but should be violated, he warned.
A new Arab state in Judea and Samaria would not be the solution to dire demographic predictions, he continued, but rather, “the lines on which a second round would be based – not of peace, or of terrorism, but of pushing the Jews into the sea.” Yogev said his prediction is based on the PA’s own statements.
“The Left’s blind desire to give up parts of our homeland… brings it to scare us with fake demographic figures. Yes, we are approaching the moment of truth – not to concede the security of our people and our land to a left-wing minority which, to my regret, Dagan has come to represent,” he concluded.
But as the politicians battle it out, some analysts claim that the entire debate over the Jordan Valley is a misnomer. Maintaining Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley would indeed have very little security value in the event of a withdrawal from the rest of Judea and Samaria, they say - but that is due to the strategic importance of the rest of the territory, not a reason to withdraw from it.