Monday, September 21, 2020

Israel to maintain control over Jordan Valley via construction of Wall

By Lien S. - November 08, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Peace Process] [negotiations] [Jordan Valley] [settlements]

The Israeli-Syrian border. Photo by Lien S.


On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his plans to construct a barrier along the Jordanian border, according to the Israeli daily Maariv (Hebrew). The wall will be built upon completion of the ones along the Egyptian and Syrian borders and will pass through the Jordan Valley, closing off the West Bank from Jordan.

Netanyahu declared that the wall is intended to protect Israeli settlers in the West Bank against Syrian refugees who could come in through Jordan and “invade” the settlements. However, so far no attempt of Syrian refugees to enter Israel through Jordan is known. Therefore, analysts suggest that the move is meant to tighten Israel’s grip on the Jordan Valley during the current peace negotiations.

Wall to tighten grip on Jordan Valley

As the question of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley is proving to be a major obstacle in the ongoing peace negotiations, Maariv’s report points out that Netanyahu’s timing on the announcement of his plan may not be a coincidence. Israel refuses to renounce military control over the Jordan Valley, while the Palestinian Authority demands that only Palestinian forces be deployed in the area in case a Two-State Solution is reached. 

Israel demands that any future Palestinian state will be a demilitarized one in which Israel would exert control over the airspace, maritime traffic and border crossings. If a Palestinian state were to be established in the West Bank, this would leave the state of Israel as narrow as 8 miles wide in some places, which would prevent the country from effectively protecting itself or striking back in the case of an attack, Israeli military experts argued in a column in the Saudi Gazette. Furthermore, about 70% of the Israeli population would live within firing-range of the West Bank highlands.

In his address to the U.S. Congress in May 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu therefore admitted, “Israel will never cede the Jordan Valley. Israel would never agree to withdraw from the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement with the Palestinians. And it’s vital – absolutely vital – that Israel maintain a long-term military presence along the Jordan River.”

The construction of this planned wall through the Jordan Valley will provide Israel with the continued control of the border crossing with Jordan, and will add the final touches to the circle of Israeli walls surrounding the West Bank on all sides. 

+972 Magazine stipulates that the fence may in fact be used to annex parts of the Jordan Valley as well. This is already the case for Israel’s wall separating present-day Israel from the West Bank, which annexes about 13% of the West Bank, according to the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem. Upon completion, an estimated 85 percent of the fence will have been built inside the West Bank.

Home demolitions and settlement expansion

In addition to its announced construction plans for a wall, Israel has recently carried out a large amount of home demolitions in the Jordan Valley over the last years under the pretence that the Palestinian villages are located in a closed military zone. In 2011, the Israeli military destroyed over 200 Palestinian-owned structures in the area, according to OCHA. Israeli settlements in the same area, on the other hand, have been allowed to flourish. Of the 250,000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley before the 1967 occupation, only 65,000 remain today, the Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) states.

In 2006, Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, published a report stating that Israel had already de facto annexed the Jordan Valley. Confirming B’Tselems report, the 2011 ICAHD report states that over 90 percent of the Jordan Valley is controlled by Israel through its 36 settlements that house 9,000 settlers, in addition to the closed military zones and declared nature reserves. 

+972 Magazine speculates that the construction of the fence could be “the final step in turning the area into a Jewish-only strip of frontier land.”

Palestinians have accused Israel of boycotting the renewed peace negotiations with its settlement expansion policy and plans to construct another Separation Wall in the Jordan Valley. Though the official goal of the peace negotiations is a Two-State solution, Israel is clearly seeking to maintain territorial and military control over large segments of any future Palestinian state, a fact which has caused many to loose faith in the “peace process” as a whole.   

Walled in

Israel is rapidly managing to surround itself by walls. In addition to the walls surrounding Gaza and the West Bank, it has thus far constructed a wall to the north along the Lebanese border to protect itself from attacks by Hezbollah, and to the south with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, in attempt to stop illegal migrants or “infiltrators,” according to the Israeli government. 

Israel’s fence with Egypt was essentially completed in January of this year. 

This summer, Israel hurried to complete the “smart fence” between the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Syria, to prevent a spillover of the Syrian conflict into Israel and an influx of refugees, according to The Guardian. 

The new fence replaces the old warn-out one and comes equipped with touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras, ground radar and razor wire. 

“For me, the message is clear: The idea of peace with our neighbors is going away, and the fences are a symbol of that reality,” retired Brig. Gen. Nachman Shai, a member of the Israeli parliament and a former chief spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces recently concluded in an article in The Washington Post.  

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