Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday braved the rain to take a strong
stand in support of retaining the Jordan Valley in any future status agreement
with the Palestinians.
“We can not secure the state of Israel without
maintaining control of the Jordan Valley,” he said, clarifying that Israel
should have both a military and a civilian presence in the valley, which is
located over pre-1967 lines.
Palestinians have insisted that it be handed
over to them as part of a two-state solution.
But Liberman on Wednesday
rejected that idea: “The Jordan Valley settlements have contributed to the state
and its security. They should remain where they are. We should be looking to
Standing under two umbrellas, he spoke with the press
atop the highest hilltop peak in the area, overlooking both the valley and the
neighboring state of Jordan. This is the best way to illustrate the importance
of the valley, Liberman said, pointing at nearby Jordan, which was hidden by
clouds and fog.
The center of the country is just over these hills, he
He said it is clear that the Jordan Valley is one of the more
sensitive topics in the negotiations, and the state is carefully weighing
whether it can be given to the Palestinians or if an international force should
be stationed there.
“I am looking at what is happening in Syria and the
whole region,” Liberman said, adding that regional upheavals have helped clarify
that Israel cannot risk losing the Jordan Valley.
In support of his
security assessment, Liberman cited a military expert, Yigal Allon, who also
believed the valley had strategic importance to Israel.“He did not belong to the
Right or the Left,” he said. “What he said in 1967 is even more true
Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani said that
Liberman had always strongly supported the region.
Lahiani pointed to
how, in December 2010, Liberman had insisted that all Israeli ambassadors tour
But this was his first official visit since he took the post
of Foreign Minister in 2009, Lahiani added.
“He has a very important
place in the coalition. When someone of that stature speaks so strongly, it is
significant,” he said.