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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

What Are Defensible Borders and Why Are They Important for Israel?

Filed under: Iran, Israel, Palestinians

By saying “defensible borders,” I mean the line that you can defend yourself from with your own forces, as actually [derived from] the letter of President Bush from 2004. And they have to meet 3 criteria.

The first one is strategic depth. Now, the average distance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is 40 miles. And 40 miles are not a minimal strategic depth.

The second criteria is the capability to defend yourself against an attack from the outside. Actually, the Jordan Valley is the best line that you can rely upon. There is the Jordan River, there is the ridge overlooking the Jordan Valley, [and there are] only five strategic passages. And [there are] actually very few Israelis and almost no Palestinians in this strip, so it’s enough to deploy, for example, two divisions in a crisis time if needed.

And finally, fighting terrorism effectively. We know that if you don’t control the envelope of the region, very quickly some terror groups like Hamas will take over, and they invite the Iranians and, all of a sudden, you have an Iranian outpost. There is an outpost in Lebanon, there is a partial one in Gaza, we don’t need another one in Judea, Samaria, the West Bank, and near Jerusalem.

So for these three criteria: strategic depth, ability to defend yourself from an attack from the outside, and finally fighting terrorism effectively, there is only one place where all these three meet. And this is the Jordan Valley, which is the only defensible border of Israel on the eastern side.