Brig. Gen.(res.) Aharon
Levran on the
Strategic Importance of Jordan Valley
Interview by Aaron Lerner
IMRA interviewed former senior intelligence officer Brig.Gen. (res.) Aharon Levran, in Hebrew, on June 29, 2000:
IMRA: What is the strategic importance of the Jordan Valley and how would a war scenario play out differently without Israeli forces controlling the Jordan Valley?
Levran: The best defense positions, from a strategic defense standpoint, are the slopes of the mountain ridge by the Jordan Valley. They have a commanding presence over the entire area. But what with this insane government, no one is even talking about Israel holding onto these vital positions. This leaves us with, as a second best position, the flat area of the Jordan Valley.
The Jordan Valley provides a broad border area within which it is possible, for a military standpoint, to separate between Israel and Jordan. It also provides a vital buffer between any Palestinian entity and Jordan - a nation with a heavy Palestinian population whose stability could be undermined if it had an open border with the Palestinians.
IMRA: Prof. Shai Feldman of the Jaffee Center believes that in the case of war Israeli forces would simply return to the Jordan Valley.
Levran: This is ridiculous. You have to have a fortified defense line - with all the systems, camps and infrastructure prepared in advance - as we have today. You can't just walk up to the border. The IDF would also have to cross through the mountain passes that would be under Palestinian control. The Palestinians can be expected to preposition explosive charges that can block these passes off at various tight choke points.
IMRA: But if the IDF responded to an Iraqi move through Jordan by a preemptive strike within Jordan would any of this be relevant?
Levran: Let us not fool ourselves. If Iraq moves into Jordan does anyone seriously expect Israel to immediately jump into Jordan? Consider all the times in our recent history that we decline to react to various threats. Instead of a preemptive strike we would be counseled to show restraint to avoid disturbing the peace.
Instead of Israel holding a defense line that it has fortified and prepared and is intimately familiar with we have this reckless proposal that in the event of war the IDF somehow makes its way to open territory. Complete insanity.
Dr. Aaron Lerner is director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis) (mail POB 982 Kfar Sava) Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-9-7411645