In an interview with the Sovereignty journal, the Minister of Construction and Housing, Major General (res.) Yoav Gallant, published a detailed security doctrine clarifying the security necessity of the Israeli hold in Judea and Samaria for the security and future of Israel. This is in addition to the value of the right of the forefathers, which he stresses at the outset.
“The main topic regarding Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley in the Israeli discourse touches upon two natural and clear elements. The first of them is our right to the place. I have no doubt about this right. The places where we build and inhabit today is where King David walked – this is true for Hevron and Jerusalem as well as other places”.
The second matter that Minister Gallant mentions is the relations between us and the Palestinians, and he notes, for whoever may have forgotten, that they have attacked us for a hundred years with riots, pogroms, attacks and wars. “In every one of these incidents, they were the ones who began the hostilities against us; they were the ones who lost and they were the ones who also refuse to make peace”. This being the situation, Minister Gallant has a difficult time understanding why Israel must continue to surrender her rights to the rejectionist aggressor instead of taking care of her own essential security interests.
After presenting these two principles, Minister Gallant presents an analysis though a lens of the new security situation that is now occurring, a reality where there is “a change in the geostrategic concept after many years”:
“The Shi’a storm is sweeping the Middle East and suddenly we see that Iraq has fallen into the hands of Shi’ites under Iranian influence; they have been in Lebanon for a long time. They are now striving to take over Syria by means of the Alawites under Russian patronage, and the next phase will be an attempt to bring about the collapse of Jordan, both because they hate the Sunnis and the Jordanian Kingdom and because it will mean another border of four hundred kilometers where they would be able to wage a campaign of attrition against Israel using their agents, whether it be Hizb’Allah or some other militia”, says Gallant, who views these basic facts as leading directly to the importance of our continued possession of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
No one is Promising long-range Quiet from the East
“The dangers to our east, potentially starting in the Jordan River and ending in Teheran and even east of there, are changing. Today we see a change, after decades when regimes that used to draw their strength from military and intelligence organizations are suddenly changing and drawing their strength from radical parties, whether Shi’ite or Sunni. This teaches us that in another fifty or twenty years there could be other changes. Therefore, this narrow space of dozens of kilometers between the Jordan River and the sea must remain fully in Israel’s hands, from a strategic, security point of view, as strategic depth against any threat that might come from the East in the form of elements that might arise in the future. We have already had various experiences, so the area is not a negotiable asset that can be traded away.
The implication, from Minister Gallant’s point of view, is unambiguous: “We must view the area of the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria and all of the area west of them as one unit or territory, which together, allows for the defense of the State of Israel”.
At this point in the discussion, Gallant uses military terms that lend greater clarity to the analysis that he presents and the conclusions that he draws. “My term for the defense of the Jordan Valley is ‘security buffer’. This is the area that enables you to carry out various activities when the enemy approaches. The area of the mountain ridge is what is called a ‘holding area’ and it is the place where you base your main defensive power, and the area between Jerusalem to Haifa and Ashdod or Ashkelon is what is called in military terms the ‘vital territory’ because that is where the majority of Israeli citizens live, our reserves are there, the greatest Jewish concentration in the world is there and this is the territory that must be defended. In order to protect this soft underbelly you must retain the mountain ridge as the holding area and enable the Jordan Valley as an area for attack where you can block any advance. These are the terms that I bring to my world view. This means not only our historical right and not only the relations with the Palestinians, but also the understanding that the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridge are, actually, our shield and a very wide advance buffer that can extend up to four hundred kilometers, from the Sea of Galilee to the Gulf of Eilat. Each and every place along this line could encounter various types of threats so there is tremendous value to this place”.
The resolute statements of Minister Gallant, who is a general in the reserves, about the importance of the territories of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley to Israel, serve to refute any idea of the use of international warning stations, technological means and other ideas that have been used in recent years, especially under the leadership of Barack Obama and under the direction of then Secretary of State John Kerry. “This is all total nonsense. How will warning stations help me when someone comes”? I don’t need the territory in order to get intelligence. I need to hold the territory because I assume that tomorrow morning, theoretically, an enemy that behaves like Hizb’Allah in Lebanon or might sit on our border or some other enemy in the Golan Heights”.
“Currently there is a buffer state to our east with which we have peaceful relations, and may it last many more years, but who said that it will last? Did anyone expect what happened in Syria? Did anyone think, forty years ago, that the Shah’s Iran would fall? Could anyone have guessed that Mubarak would fall and after him there would be Mursi and then al-Sisi? In the case of Egypt, we were fortunate that the revolution took a complete turn, but we might have remained with Mursi and then, who knows where that would have led… this could happen anywhere. That is why warning stations have no value. They are not what will ensure our security”.
And to all of the “Norwegians and Swedes” and the rest of those who bring up proposals and preach to us, Gallant suggests that they remember that in recent weeks we commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the 70th year of the State of Israel. “Where were those Europeans at that time and where would we be if we had not established a state here, five years after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising”.
Back to Begin’s Plan – Autonomy and Nothing More
When we switch to the Palestinian aspect of the coin, Gallant repeats Menahem Begin’s solution, and to him, autonomy is the maximal answer that Israel can offer them. Gallant does not feel a need to connect the solution of autonomy to any international precedent that Israel would need to adhere to as a model. “I have no precedent for many things, but I say that the discussion begins with full control in the security areas, over border crossings, over the entry of citizens, over the air space and over the electro-magnetic space – all of this must be in Israeli’s hands. It cannot be that someone in Ramallah will disrupt our lives in Tel Aviv. This will not work. It cannot be that someone will land jets here and it cannot be that millions of Palestinians will flow in to realize a ‘right of return’ and come to Abu Dis and put pressure on Jerusalem. None of these things will happen. From this point, let’s begin the discussion and talk”.
Gallant is not bothered by the question of a Palestinian partner for autonomy, mainly because of their past record of refusal and aggression. “For me, the first priority is the security of Israel and all the rest comes after this.
“If, under this principle, the Palestinians want to talk, then okay. If not, well, they haven’t been talking for eighty years and each time war erupts again. So what do they want? To start wars, then lose the wars and then we should accept their plans? We must learn the lesson of history. If they want to talk, they are welcome. But we have demands too”.
Although it is really Minister Gallant’s first term as a politician, he already sees that the process of legislating sovereignty is complex and therefore, in his opinion, it is best to do it in phases. “We must implement sovereignty gradually, according to priorities, with the most obvious places being in the area of Gush Etzion and Beitar Ilit and Efrat on the way to Teddy in Jerusalem. The second area is Ma’ale Adumim and the third area is the Jordan Valley. The order should be according to what is possible and what is easier”. However, he adds that it need not be the scenario that he presents now and other scenarios and solutions might be found for the application of sovereignty that he has not yet thought of.
Minister Gallant said these words in an interview given to the 10th issue of the Sovereignty journal published by the Sovereignty Movement. The journal is distributed all over Israel in two hundred thousand copies, in Hebrew and in English.