What was the Allon Plan?
The key to any peace agreement between Israel and its hostile Arab neighbors has always been the concept of “secure borders”. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, the basic building block of any such peace agreement, anticipates that Israel will withdraw to secure borders (not specified in the resolution) in exchange for peace guarantees from the Arab parties. Over the years, many plans have been put forward designed to achieve this balance of “land for peace”.
One of the early attempts, not long after the June 1967 Six-Day War, was the “Allon Plan”, written by Yigal Allon, who specified what “secure borders” meant in the pages of Foreign Affairs in October 1976. Allon was Israel’s foreign minister under the first Rabin government, and was one of Israel’s greatest military minds.
The Allon Plan proposed that Israel would relinquish the main Arab-populated areas of Judea and Samaria to Jordanian political jurisdiction, while retaining under Israeli military control a narrow, thinly-populated strip along the Jordan River. This strip would start in the North near the Syrian border, continue down through the Jordan Valley and the Judean desert, and connect further down with the Negev.
In this concept, Israel would control a strategic zone in the eastern West Bank running up from the Jordan Valley to the eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge. This area would allow Israel’s small standing army to hold off an assault from a combination of Arab states to Israel’s east for enough time for Israel to mobilize and deploy its reserve forces, which constitute the bulk of Israel’s military power. For these “secure borders” Allon envisioned that Israel would need some 700 square miles of the 2100 square miles that make up the West Bank (about one-third).
Additionally, Allon wrote in July, 1967, that Israel needed to include the road connecting Jerusalem to the Dead Sea as well as a widened Jerusalem corridor west of Ramallah and stressed the importance of Greater Jerusalem. These additions could easily bring the Alon Plan to about 40 percent of the West Bank.
The “Allon Plan” was originally conceived when Middle Eastern armies were relatively small and primarily composed of slow infantry formations. The contemporary situation is much different, and ballistic missiles can arc over any defense at the border, but this only increases the importance of superior topographical conditions and secure borders for Israel’s small standing army.
Following the concepts of the Allon Plan, the 1967-1977 Israeli Labor governments created 21 settlements along the Jordan Valley and Eastern slopes of Samaria during that period, and avoided construction on the mountain ridge from Nablus to Jerusalem to Hebron.