'We Want Seedlings, Not Rockets'
Members of the World Likud organization have made a unique statement about Israel's right to keep the Jordan Valley - by literally establishing roots there.
On the Tu Bishvat holiday Thursday, hundreds of members planted seedlings in the Valley.
Yaakov Hagoel, the Head of the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) Department for Activities in Israel, spoke at the ceremony about the importance of tree-planting ceremonies across Israel - in the Golan, in the Negev, in the Galilee, and now in the Jordan Valley.
"We have to keep planting all over Israel," Hagoel stated, "and also to establish more communities and raise children there."
David Elhayany,Chairman of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, explained the to the participants the crucial significance of the Jordan Valley for Israel's security. "The Jordan Valley is a strategic buffer for Israel," he stated.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon was also present, and stressed the need to take action against efforts to give away the Valley region.
"I suggest to the members of the right: don't be complacent," he stated. "History has taught us a dangerous complacency. Just like we were surprised with the disengagement idea - we should not be surprised again. We make a clear statement today that all Likud members support construction and communities in the Jordan Valley."
Tu Bishvat, the Mishnaic "New Year for the Trees," is customarily celebrated by planting trees and having a festive meal with new fruits. The event featured both the planting and a ceremonial meal in honor of the holiday.
But this tree-planting ceremony gave the holiday a new twist, marking the determination of Jordan Valley residents to keep their land under Israeli control.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing a plan to withdraw from the Valley in talks.
The plans laid out by US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly give Israel temporary control of the border along the Jordan Valley, but soon shifts control to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The Israeli government has insisted that the region is of crucial importance to Israel's future, and has been critical of plans to hand over the area to the PA. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that in the event that Israel withdrew from Judea and Samaria, as per Kerry's plans, the Jordan Valley be kept under Israeli control.
MK Orit Struk explained last month that the chances of accepting such a deal are slim for various reasons, including a referendum law dictating that a deal must be passed through the Knesset, and the political stance of the current coalition.
"There is a very clear statement here that there is no possibility at all for the Prime Minister to adopt Kerry's proposals," Struk stated. "We have a bipartisan wall extending deep into the ruling party preventing a deal. Here is a very clear statement that the Jordan Valley will remain forever under the sovereignty of Israel."