'Habithonistim' (Protectors of Israel) is a new movement of high-ranking officers, commanders and IDF fighters.
As part of our National Security concept, we support applying Sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria (excluding the Palestinian Authority areas). We believe it is essential to ensure Israel’s current and future security needs.
This agenda generated the movement great traction of more than 1000 officers and commanders who joined us in the first three months since our establishment. Furthermore, Israeli society gave us massive support, endorsing our call for Sovereignty now.
The plan, which calls on the Israeli government to apply its sovereignty over territories in the Jordan valley and the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, brought great expectations, and at the same time, anxiety and tension to the region, from all sides of the political spectrum.
On February 7, 2020, The "Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS)", an organization composed of retired high-ranking generals from the left side of the Israeli political map, published a position statement regarding the American plan “for “annexation", criticizing it and rejecting any “unilateral” “annexation” on behalf of Israel. They basically claim the plan will endanger and threaten regional stability and Israel’s security.
Habithonistim's response to these claims is brought here. Our motto and message are clear- we call for "Sovereignty Now!".
1. Will applying Sovereignty destabilize the already sensitive relations with Jordan and affect security coordination or even terminate the peace accord?
The Bithonistim response:
- Israeli sovereignty is a Jordanian interest. Israeli Sovereignty over the Jordan Valley will keep Jordan stable by ensuring that it will share forever a common border with Israel and not a Palestinian Arab unstable entity that might overthrow the king and gain control of Jordan, undermining Israel’s security.
- The border with Israel has been a quiet border for decades- Israel shares its longest border with Jordan. From the Yarmuk River to the Red Sea is a distance of 309 km/ 192 miles, while the Jordan valley section is 71 km/44 mile long. A quiet border allows the Jordanians to tighten their security measures along much more sensitive borders other than Israel, such as with Syria and Iraq.
- Jordan has a range of vital interests other than security including:
1.Water agreements with Israel- Israel supplies at least 50 million cubic meters of water a year to Jordan according to the peace treaty. Jordan is urging for doubling that number in order to supply drinking water for all its citizens and hundreds of thousands of refugees (mainly from Syria) as well as for its agriculture all along the border with Israel, which Israel assisted in developing.
2. Economy (Industry, tourism, agriculture, etc.):
a. A new-shared Industrial area between the countries has a great influence on the stability and economy of the region.
b. Jordan and Israel both share common tourism interests all along the border, such as the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River called "Qasr al Yahud", the Dead Sea, the city and shores of Aqaba near the Red Sea (the only passage Jordan has to the sea and its biggest resort). Thousands of tourists from all over the world cross the borders regularly and visit historical, archeological and religious sites in both countries.
c. Israeli industries manufacture products and trade through Jordan.
d. Thousands of Jordanians work in the tourism industry inside Israel.
3. Foreign relations - Jordan will not risk its relations with the US government or other major supportive countries because of Israeli sovereignty on land they never owned, as the kingdom counts on their economic, security and overall assistance to exist.
4. Religion - Israel respects the connection of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the Temple Mount area, in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, as is written in the peace agreement. Jordan still has a special status, although the late king Hussein cancelled all Jordanian administrative claims and connections to the "West Bank", as a result of the Palestinian Arab uprising during July 1988, afraid of its eruption in his kingdom as well.
- Israel will be secured for decades by declaring its sovereignty over the Jordan valley, as it is the natural eastern border and defensive barrier for the land of Israel - fact well known to all of its conquerors and rulers since ancient times.
- Israel should not count on any Arab country to secure it, knowing that stability in the Middle East is fragile and agreements might not last as expected as is the case in western civilization. Therefore Israel counts on its own strength and iIntelligence to prevent any hostile activity and deter its enemies, while not undermining the importance of good, peaceful or at least quiet relationships with its neighbors.
Will applying Sovereignty bring about the end of security coordination with the Palestinian Authority and possibly its very collapse?
The "Bithonistim" response:
Israel should not be prevented from applying sovereignty by threats of violence and terrorism.
- Security coordination with the Palestinian Authority is an interest shared by both sides and keeps Mahmoud Abbas' party (Fatah) in control. The coordination keeps the opposition to Abbas, the terror movement of Hamas, from taking over as it did in the Gaza Strip following Israel’s withdrawal in the Disengagement Plan of 2006.
- Without coordination, Abbas' relatively moderate regime and his life (including all those around him) might be in great danger. jeopardizing the entire state of security, foreign relations and aid, economic freedom and stability of the Arab people in the PA territories.
- Palestinian Authority collapse can surely happen by itself without Israel interference, and in fact, Israel sovereignty will be a stabilizing factor in the area. Israel's security coordination with the PA has the potential to secure the PA regime and the wellbeing of its citizens, more than could otherwise be expected in the long run .
- If the security coordination does, unfortunately, collapse- Israel has the ability to look after itself without being dependent on the PA.
It might be more challenging, but can certainly be accomplished professionally, as was proven before the Oslo Agreements, during the second uprising (Intifada) and the IDF's Defensive Shield military operation. It has been quietly and effectively accomplished because Israel had its "boots on the ground" -both its settlers' and soldiers' boots.
The IDF and other Israeli security organizations are strong enough and moreover, have the experience to deal with such threats if they eventuate.
- Determination and strengthening Israel's deterrence in the Middle East - Applying Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria will strengthen Israel against the Palestinian Arab terror organizations and convey a clear message all through the Middle East that terror does not pay and that Israel has learned from its mistakes.
Standing strong, holding on to our Promised Land and interests, while securing our future in Israel for decades, will be much more respected eventually, by all Israel's Arab neighbors who respect honor, strength and landownership.
Israel is determined to ensure its National Security interests with no hesitation, withdrawal or surrendering to anyone. That is a powerful message for all the "predators" seeking Israel's extinction.
- Sovereignty Opportunities - With the right plan and assistance package, the PA will be strengthened. and Its economy will flourish, as sovereignty will allow Israel to develop the entire region and supply more and better opportunities for all local residents.
Will applying sovereignty increase the level of violence from Gaza?
The "Bitchonistim" response:
- Decisions should not be made due to threats of violence and terror, especially when Israel is strong and dominant.
- Hamas will be deterred when Israel will act in its own interest and not from fear of terrorism, regardless to sovereignty or any other issue.
- Gaza has its own mechanism and Interests. They have huge economic problems and depend on Israel's assistance. The fight against Israel from Gaza is ongoing and does not depend on what happens in Judea and Samaria.
What about the CIS argument: CIS does support the annexation of major settlement blocs as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs.
The "Bitchonistim" response:
- Israel should not wait for any kind of Palestinian Arab agreement to do what is right, needed and just on its own land. Israel has waited too long, with no satisfying results, for the historical chance that has now occurred.
- Israel is acting according to a US Plan there is nothing unilateral here.
- Israel has been an independent state for 72 years, has deep roots of more than 3500 years in the Promised Land. There is no reason for the state of Israel to ask the PA, a newborn entity, for any kind of approval regarding the applying of sovereignty on what belongs to Israel legally, historically, traditionally, religiously, morally - and by all other aspects.
- Israel should not and must not wait forever. The Arab and PA leaderships missed more than a few opportunities to sign an agreement with Israel over the past century. Israel returned to its Promised Land after a long and painful exile. The only claims it has are its rights to the land of the Patriarchs, a land which was stolen brutally by its enemies.
When a historic chance arises to do what is right and just and what ensures Israel’s safety in the long term, we must seize the moment and not hesitate to confront any challenges that might arise.
Col (res) Tal Braun is a strategic consultant and a member of the "Habithonistim" ((Protectors of Israel) Movement.