When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, any movement away from antiquated formulas – most of which have been based in maximalist Palestinian demands deemed holy by the international community – is a huge achievement.Which is why the Trump Plan should be welcomed.
Alas, much of the global diplomatic community and the Israeli left-wing scoff at the notion that anything other than the “Clinton parameters” can serve as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian accommodation.
Those parameters dictated establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state based on Israeli withdrawal to the untenable 1949 armistice lines, with minor land swaps, a division of Jerusalem, and dismantlement of most Judea and Samaria settlements.
Instead of this timeworn, even dangerous, paradigm, the Trump administration is now moving to reset the Mideast diplomatic table – based on historical truths and concrete realities.
Washington is wholly rejecting the notion that an Israeli-Palestinian solution should begin from any 70 year old armistice line forced upon Israel by Arab aggression; or from the defensive “security barrier” forced upon Israel by Palestinian terrorism; or from any borders dictated by politicized international organizations and jaundiced legal tribunals.
Washington also is rebuffing the Palestinian notion that Israel can be coerced into wide-ranging withdrawals by appealing to international courts to criminalize Israel. Rejecting the canard that settlements are illegal was an important part of denying this Palestinian offensive.
Implicit in the Trump administration’s approach also is the understanding that Israeli claims to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are at least as valid as Palestinian claims, and that Israeli rights are richly buttressed by political experience and security necessity.
Moreover, the Trump team seems to understand that the Clinton parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian deal were never fair to, or wise for, Israel. As mentioned, they didn’t sufficiently consider Israel’s historic and national rights in Judea and Samaria. They certainly didn’t consider, and today cannot adequately accommodate, the dramatically changed security environment in the Mideast since the Arab upheavals began and Iran began its march to Israel’s borders.
Worst of all, those parameters insufficiently contemplated the irredentist nature of the Palestinian national movement. We now know that the Arafat- and Abbas-led Palestinian Authority isn’t anywhere near becoming the stable, moderate, democratic State of Palestine that was promised to Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Instead, one part of the Palestinian-claimed area is run by a corrupt secular dictatorship that “pays for slay” (i.e., it funds terrorism against Israel), and which would fall to Hamas without Israel’s military presence; while the other part is occupied by a radical Islamist dictatorship that is armed to the teeth by Iran, has fought three wars against Israel over the past ten years, and is openly committed to Israel’s destruction.
Therefore, the Trump team apparently has reached the logical conclusions that: 1. Israel must maintain security control of the entire West Bank envelope. 2. Jerusalem will remain united and under effective Israeli control. 3. Approximately half of Area C (including all Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley) will become Israeli sovereign territory, perhaps immediately.
In addition, and most importantly: 4. The only Palestinian government/state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza that Israelis can be expected to live with over the long term must agree to a permanent end to the conflict and all claims on Israel – meaning that it must inculcate peace (and not genocidal anti-Semitism) in schools and media, reconcile with Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People, and of course, completely disarm Hamas and other terrorist armies in its midst.
Finally, the Trump plan sets out a broad framework for Arab regional investment in Palestinian-Israeli joint projects. This is meant to give Palestinians and Israelis a concrete peace benefit; to set-out a pathway for renewing Palestinian leadership ranks with individuals hard-wired for peaceful compromise; and to allow Arab states to work more closely with Israel on a range of issues.
It needs to be stressed that these new parameters closely hew to the broadest political consensus in Israel. These are not “hard right wing” parameters, but rather a peace paradigm that makes eminent sense to at least 75 percent of Israelis, in my estimation. In fact, the State of Israel under any leadership is unlikely to agree, ever, to a plan that is dissimilar to these new parameters.
The Trump team also seems to have intuited the truth that aside from setting borders, the real challenge in Palestinian-Israeli affairs is to unleash long-term dynamics that can regenerate belief in the possibility of peace.
Alas, the Palestinians seem to have no identity other than as a community in conflict with Israel. In fact, the Palestinian Authority doesn’t relate to the diplomatic process as a peace process but as a “decolonization process” where the colonizer and victimizer (Israel) is to be held responsible for his crimes. As a result, the Arafat-Abbas policy has been to reject most forms of engagement with Israel even when it comes to improving life for Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly made clear that he wants a Palestinian state, but without an end to the conflict. He wants a state in order to continue the conflict against the “illegal Jewish settler presence in all Palestine,” as he terms it.
It is time to move beyond the stalemate cause by such unremitting hostility and beyond the obsolete “solutions” that feed it. Consequently, Jerusalem should welcome the Trump initiative as a useful platform and act to swiftly lock-in the concrete diplomatic gains. Hopefully, over the long term, the Palestinians will come to see its advantages too.