As these words are being written in late March 2022, the media are reporting that it is most likely that the United States will soon sign a new improved nuclear deal with Iran, one very much in Iran’s favor. This new deal would allow Iran to become a nuclear power within a few years, does not address the long-range missiles that Iran is developing, producing and using, and ignores the death and destruction that the Iranian Islamic Republic has sown throughout the Middle East. No doubt, Iran has come out the winner in Vienna.
One possible consequence of this Islamist victory is a surge in Hamas’s popularity among the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, who are already disgusted with the corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. It is almost certain that Hamas will win any future election, both in the Palestinian Legislative Council (as it did in January 2006) as well as in the presidential election. And if the PA becomes a state, Hamas in Judea and Samaria will replicate the Hamastan that has existed in the Gaza Strip since June 2007.
The conclusion thus far is that in all likelihood, the nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran, which fuels and funds Islamic terror throughout the region and the world, will give Islamic terror a tremendous boost.
To this should be added the current situation in Europe: Russia has invaded Ukraine, and the world – despite its promises to Ukraine – has not come out unequivocally against Russia. The Chinese are drawing their conclusions from this situation and revving their engines in the direction of Taiwan. As part of the agreement, the United States – the traditional ally of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Bahrain – will be giving the Iranians everything they want to fight these countries, and they are already planning their military steps against Israel.
Israel must plan for the next war, which will certainly have a large ground dimension, in addition to an aerial one: ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, UAVs and planes. In a ground war, land and control over land are of paramount importance. Anyone with even minimal knowledge of how to operate forces and the ability to analyze the territory understands that it is impossible to defend the State of Israel without full control over everything that happens in the Jordan Valley. The river is the first line of defense, and the eastern slopes of the Judea and Samaria mountains are the line that the enemy’s ground troops must never be allowed to cross.
However, we have recently learned that the Palestinian Authority is planning to build two new cities in the Jordan Valley so that these cities and their inhabitants will foil the “Zionist plot to take over the Jordan Valley”. In order to contend with the Palestinian Arab plan and Iran’s war designs, Israel must apply its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. Once the valley is sovereign Israeli territory, Israel will be able to both thwart the Palestinian plans and stop the Iranian tanks that could cross through Iraq and Jordan in a matter of hours.
We must bear in mind that with all the importance of security, the Jewish people has ancestral rights to the Jordan Valley, rights that the world recognized more than a hundred years ago in the resolutions of the San Remo Convention of the League of Nations (1920). The League of Nations gave the Jewish people all of the land of Israel, including Jordan, although it later took back a great deal of it to create the “Emirate of Transjordan.” That did not include the west bank of the Jordan River and everything west of the Jordan River belongs to the Jewish people, both by virtue of its ancestral rights as well as the still-valid decisions of the international community.
Two questions immediately arise. The first: What will Israel’s new allies – the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, who signed the Abraham Accords in return for Israel not declaring sovereignty over the Jordan Valley – say? And the second, what will the world say and do in the face of such an Israeli step?
The answer to the first question is that Israel’s new friends will denounce and condemn Israel in no uncertain terms, but will not do anything. This is because in view of the growing strength of Iran, which is breathing down their necks and threatening their very existence and as the United States twists the knife it stuck in their backs, they have no alternative to their alliance with Israel. They may take some kind of public steps, but in essence will do nothing.
The answer to the second question is a little more complicated and is related to the fact that when Israel established its sovereignty in the areas around Jerusalem that it liberated from Jordanian occupation in 1967, the world took no steps at all against Israel. However, although the world does not recognize any part of Jerusalem, not even the western part of the city, as Israeli territory – the sky did not fall. Israel passed Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel and Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which determine that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and the world did not go berserk.
What Israel needs to do is to expand Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction to all of the Jordan Valley, incidentally applying these basic laws and Israeli sovereignty to it. The world will rant and rave but will not do much else, just as it did nothing with regard to Jerusalem as it is today.
The current war raging in Ukraine proves once again that only a determined nation steadfast in its positions can endure in the cynical world in which Israel is trying to survive. Israel must act and show all its neighbors, friend and foe alike, that it knows what to do for its own security and the security and safety of its citizens, and that it will do what it must without fear or hesitation.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a researcher and lecturer about the Middle East and Islam