Abbas: No Israeli Presence in Jordan Valley

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas' declaration this past weekend that there would be no Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley didn't warrant a response, the Prime Minister's Office spokesman told CBN News.

"We didn't issue a public statement because our position is well-known," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas made his remarks at a graduation ceremony at Al-Istiklal University in Jericho.

"This is a Palestinian-Jordanian border," Abbas said, "and that's how it will remain. Frankly, Israel won't be present between us and Jordan," the Jerusalem Post reported.

The Jordan Valley forms the border between Israel and Jordan in the north, including the Jordan River, and continues along the edge of Judea and Samaria, which the P.A. is claiming for its future state. It was under Jordanian occupation until the Six Day War when it came under Israeli sovereignty.

Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel would not sign an agreement with the Palestinians that does not include an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley.  In May 2011, he told a joint session of Congress that "Israel will not return to the indefensible lines of 1967."

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold explained why Israel will never relinquish the Jordan Valley in a piece posted Tuesday by Israel Hayom.

"…Israeli control of the Jordan Valley is not only needed for defense against conventional attacks, but also for neutralizing the growing threat from advanced weapons that can be smuggled to terrorist organizations," Gold wrote.

"Israel learned the hard way that when it left the Philadephi Route at the outer perimeter of the Gaza Strip, the scale of weapons smuggling, particularly from Iran, surged, and Gaza became a strategic threat to Israeli cities," he continued.

"Given the uncertainties of the Middle East in the years ahead, it is extremely unlikely that Israel will consider withdrawal of its forces from the Jordan Valley -- or its right to reinforce them - thereby giving up what has been the front line of defense since 1967," Gold concluded.

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