Israeli officials this weekend reemphasized Jerusalem’s insistence that Israeli security forces remain along the border with Jordan in the context of any final status arrangement with the Palestinians, a counter-terrorism stance that has reportedly been endorsed by among others Jordan, but that has been repeatedly rejected by Palestinian negotiators.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of agreeing to the deployment of NATO or other international forces to replace the IDF in the Jordan Valley under a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, Israeli officials said Saturday night.
The officials were quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 as saying that Netanyahu insists that “only the IDF” can provide security for Israel in the Jordan Valley, and wherever else is necessary in the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in recent weeks had floated the suggestion that international forces – his specific scenario considered NATO forces – would guard the border and prevent terrorist infiltration as a substitute for Israeli troops. Israeli officials pointed out both publicly and privately that almost every international force deployed over the last several decades to guard Israel’s borders in the aftermath of Israeli withdrawals has either fled under pressure (UNEF I in the 1967 Sinai Peninsula and the EU monitors once stationed in the Gaza Strip are the usual examples), or has allowed terrorist groups to gain footholds and even create full-blown statelets (UNIFIL in Lebanon is the most obvious example but jihadists have also made recent gains in the MOF-monitored Sinai), or some combination of both (the near collapse of UNDOF on the Golan Heights is usually cited in this context).
Recent polling shows that while a majority of Israelis consistently favor a peace deal with the Palestinians that would have the Jewish state making substantial territorial concessions, nearly three-fourths of Israelis reject withdrawing from the Jordan Valley. The issues of political resistance and political capital aside, it is in any case difficult to imagine any Israeli leader being able to cede control over a potentially unstable border given the precipitous decline in regional security and Arab state cohesion since 2011.
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