Jordan Valley
Jordan ValleyFlash 90

While the IDF is in the midst of a vast military response to the unprecedentedly massive and barbaric attack executed by Hamas against Israel on October 7th, a weak spot in Israel's integrative security framework is being critically overlooked.

A plethora of potential military responses are constantly being considered both confidentially and publically in the media and in broader platforms.

Nevertheless, a response that is not being discussed, at least in the public arena, is that which pertains to extending Israel's sovereignty to the entire Jordan Valley. This geopolitical strategy does not involve military intervention, yet may strengthen Israel's backbone within the region and contribute to its deterrence capabilities at the present time as well as in the future. Furthermore, it provides necessary reinforcement to the Jordanian border.

One of the key components to the successful attack by Hamas, aside from Israel's state of intelligence coma, was the huge arsenal at the disposal of Hamas. Massive stockpiles of missiles, weapons and ammunitions were brought in and stashed unsupervised under the nose of the Egyptian border control in the last 18 years, since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip. The blatant development of extensive underground terror tunnels was the result of fatal neglect on the Egyptian side. While the Palestinian Arabs were also smuggling arms before the Gaza disengagement, the extent and frequency were much less threatening.

Furthermore, the border with Egypt is so slim that it makes the enormous extent of smuggling even more appalling, although Egypt's role in making the attack possible is somehow being ignored.

The border with Jordan, by contrast, is a long-stretched one. It takes little imagination and judgement to understand the potential catastrophic danger of having no Israeli military presence in the perimeter of Judea and Samaria. As long as Israel holds no permanent rights to sovereignty in the Jordan Valley at the very least, its future security cannot be guaranteed. It is in a constant negotiable up-for-grabs status. Even more disturbing is the geographical proximity of Jordan to hostile entities stretching all the way to Iran.

The current war proves that Israel cannot allow situations where terrorist organizations, or countries that house such organizations, have sovereignty over borders with Israel. Formal peace treaties with neighboring countries hold no promise of a secure border, a conceptual delusion that exploded at the Egyptian border and that should also be rectified through the establishment of new strict security measures in that area.

Moreover, a military victory typically includes strengthening a country's control over its own territory as well as extending control to at least a portion of the enemy's territory. The need to remove the threat of further territorial and security violations is paramount. In terms of the present situation, the territorial challenge must be grasped from a broader perspective, whereby Hamas represents only one part of the Palestinian Arab entity, while its counterpart is situated in Judea and Samaria.

Solidifying Israel's presence in its eastern border by implementing sovereignty there promotes the crucial military victory so desired over Hamas.

A victory that includes a territorial standpoint is especially important in the Middle East. In this context, the possession of land is revered as a national asset while human lives are valued, way too often, as a means by which to conquer more land. This certainly portrays the mentality of Hamas. Therefore a territorial achievement by Israel would contribute to the discouragement of any future plans to commit such barbaric attacks against Israel.

Focusing on destroying Hamas in Gaza and liberating the hostages should not interfere in making a parallel geopolitical decision that is crucial to Israel's future security – the mandatory inclusion of the Jordan Valley under Israeli sovereignty.

The momentous opportunity to increase Israel's hard power and defense capabilities is the call of the hour. Implementing sovereignty over the Jordan Valley at this time will most likely win the support of an overwhelming majority in the Israeli public and may have a reduced diplomatic cost in the international arena. It will ensure that Israel continues to control its border with Jordan and thus halt large scale arms trafficking and terrorist infiltrations, or even conceivably the smuggling of unconventional weapons into the region.

Such a step may also contribute to Israel's relations with the so called moderate Arab states, relations that are first and foremost based on deterrence. Should countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia conclude that Israel's power is weakening, they may reevaluate their strategic positions. Thus, Egypt and Jordan may weaken strategic relations with Israel and the Saudis may bring to a halt their negotiations for normalizing relations. Additionally, from a realist geopolitical perspective, it is in their interest that Israel remains strong in the region and that extremist unrest does not spill over into their territories. Although they will likely openly condemn Israel for such an act, they may support it behind closed doors.

As far as Israel's relations with the US is concerned, implementing sovereignty in the Jordan Valley is compatible with US strategy towards the Middle East, although in this case Israel may also face criticism. According to US foreign policy perception, a powerful Israel is a major interest, especially now when it is working on creating new commercial paths that will help connect South-East Asia to the West through the Gulf states, Jordan and Israel.

Even if the official diplomacy transpires as more arduous and challenging than outlined above, the benefits to Israel's security outweigh the costs significantly. The time is now.

Dr. Erez Shoshani is a faculty member in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the Ruppin Academic Center.