Jordan Valley Leader: This is Israel's 'Safety Belt'
Peace talks revolved around the future status of the Jordan Valley earlier this year, as the US, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Israel debated over the region's importance to Israeli security.
However, the Jordan Valley has proven more than ever to be a center of Israeli security during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, according to Jordan Valley Mayor David Elhayani.
"The Jordan Valley is now the quietest place in Israel," Elhayani stated Sunday, in a special interview with Arutz Sheva. "I have no doubt following the war in Gaza that the Israeli public will have an understanding when it comes to the status of the Jordan Valley, and will be even more determined to keep [the region] under Israeli sovereignty."
Elhayani noted that, if given to the PA, the Jordan Valley could become the next Gaza.
"Imagine some Hamasnik or other terrorist emerges from the pits of a refugee camp says 'hello,' I am here from Qalqiliya [. . .] their ability to dig tunnels to [and from] every point is very disturbing," he said. "See what happened with the rocket in Yehud that shut down Ben-Gurion airport - imagine if some Hamasnik or Al-Qaeda member from Judea had shot shells or rockets at our airport."
"The public understands now, more than ever, that the Jordan Valley is Israel's safety belt," he continued. "Without the Valley, there would be no way to protect the citizens of Israel."
"God forbid, if a second front opened now in Judea- Samaria, it would be complete chaos," he added. "There are no tunnels in the Valley, and there will be none, because this is a great strategic swath of land and that is how it should be."
Elhayani had a grim prediction for the future, however.
"If you ask me if the political leadership has the courage to proclaim sovereignty over all of Israel - I would say not," he said.
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly attempted to force a deal on Israel and the PA which would have seen an Israeli "withdrawal" from all of Judea and Samaria, but allow for a temporary arrangement whereby IDF and/or foreign forces would maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley.