Thursday, November 07, 2013

Israel-Palestinian Talks: Why Fate of Jordan Valley Is Key

 From BBC News, 6 Nov 2013, by Yolande Knell
The fertile, largely undeveloped Jordan Valley makes up a quarter of the West Bank. It was captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, and most of it is still under Israel's military and administrative control. Israel says it cannot give up the valley for reasons of security. The fate of the valley is said to be one of the points on which Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are struggling to find a compromise.
    In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Knesset meeting, "Our strength is the guarantee for our existence and peace....This requires a security border in the Jordan Valley, as Rabin said in his last speech." Israeli media report that Netanyahu plans to build a new security barrier in the Jordan Valley and rejects the introduction of international forces to guard the border.
"Our experience has been that international forces just don't do the job," says Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He points to the limitations of UNIFIL, which was given responsibility for the southern Lebanon border after the 2006 war. "Giving up the security of the Jordan Valley in a Middle East that's full of chaos? Who knows what's going to happen to Syria - maybe we'll have a new jihad stand to our east - that's a major worry for the Israeli army today."
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