In a Facebook posting Thursday, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett questioned the wisdom of relying on technology to ensure Israel's defense, as supporters of an Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley are suggesting. With cameras, electronic alarms, and other gadgets “protecting” Israelis, asked Bennett cynically, “who needs the IDF”?
Reports Thursday said that with Secretary of State John Kerry's diplomatic efforts stalling, U.S. President Barack H. Obama has decided to take a more “active role” in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. According to the New York Times, Obama is likely to place heavy pressure on Netanyahu to accept tenets of Kerry's peace framework when the two meet in Washington next week.
Among those tenets is very likely to be a demand that Israel agree to withdraw from the Jordan Valley. Although Israeli defense officials have reiterated numerous times that the area is vital to Israeli security needs, it appears that Kerry will be unable to finally present his framework plan without an Israel agreement to relinquish control of the area. According to reports, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas rejected any Israeli presence at all in the Jordan Valley, calling the possibility that Israeli troops could be stationed there, a possibility raised by Kerry in a meeting with Abbas, as “madness.”
The U.S. has been pushing a plan where Israel would withdraw from the Jordan Valley, leaving either US or international troops on the ground. Israel would deploy drones, cameras, tripwires, electrified fences, and other security devices to ensure terrorists do not get close to the new border.
If those defenses will work in the Jordan Valley, how about in the rest of the country, Bennett asked facetiously. “They want us to trade in the IDF for 'smart' defense systems in the Jordan Valley.
“Here is another idea: Let's first install these systems on the Gaza border, and see how effective these systems are in halting the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks on southern Israel that we have experienced since we gave up Gaza to the Palestinians. It would be like a pilot program for the Jordan Valley surrender,” Bennett said.
Few details have been made public of Kerry’s proposed framework, though Thomas Friedman of the New York Times published some alleged details of the plan, which, he said, will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.