By Dr. Ron Weiser AM
– There has been a consistent pattern to the “peace process” for 100 years from when the Palestine Arab Executive Committee met in 1921 and declared – “Either us or the Zionists. There is no room for both”
Some form of partition is proposed, the Jewish people go with the pragmatic approach of accepting what’s on offer, even if it is not entirely what they want.
The Arab/Palestinian representatives reject any proposal, even if they are offered almost all they claim to want.
Arab violence follows peace proposal.
That’s why today there is a Jewish State and not a Palestinian one.
– The Trump ‘Deal of the Century’ has upended the peace making process narrative.
This may indeed be THE key element and point of difference of the Trump plan.
The end of rewarding anti-peace behaviour with greater concessions.
Notably, for the first time Israel is not required to take any steps for a plan’s implementation – other than to agree. And it is the Palestinians who are required to do a number of things before they get buy in.
This too is a reversal of all previous modalities.
– Make no mistake, this is still a ‘Two State’ deal – despite its presumed death – showing the Trump team’s conformity with international mantras, at least in principle.
But undoubtedly, this is the most generous partition plan to Israel ever made.
The previously most recent deal offered to the Palestinians was in 2007 by PM Olmert at Annapolis. Olmert was willing to give them 93% of (Judea, Samaria/West Bank) JSWB and a shared vision in Jerusalem.
Abbas walked away – with no counter offer.
For 53 years Israel has been looking to resolve what Micha Goodman calls “Catch ‘67”- how to extricate Israel from most of JSWB whilst still maintaining security?
The Trump plan addresses Israel’s concerns – both on demography and on security.
It proposes the creation of a Palestinian state minus – based almost exclusively on demographic realities. On separation between Jews and Palestinians.
The demand asked of the Palestinians now, in return for 70% of JSWB include – the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State; ceasing incitement to terror; the disarming of Hamas; and the end of the dream of the so called ‘Palestinian right of return’.
– The price demanded of Israel is to accept a Palestinian state minus; a Palestinian capital with a presence in a small part of East Jerusalem; a four year settlement freeze; and the ceding of most of Area C to the Palestinian entity. This will add to Areas A & B already exclusively Palestinian. In addition there will be areas from inside the Green Line Israel that will become part of the Palestinian entity and further increase its territory somewhat.
– Reaction from some Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States initially seemed positive with them publicly welcoming Trump’s efforts, without commenting on the details of the plan itself.
By the weekend of the 1st of February, merely 4 days after its release, the Arab League met (including Saudi Arabia et al) and unanimously rejected the Trump plan.
The one hopeful result of this is that the rejection was relatively mild and unenthusiastic. The ONLY way this plan, or indeed any plan, will have a chance of success, is when the key Arab countries decide they have had enough of Palestinian intransigence and force their brothers and sisters to the table.
– Both Blue & White and PM Netanyahu warmly welcomed and accepted the Trump plan.
There is a huge consensus in Israel on the demographic and security needs, especially after the lack of trust the Palestinians engendered following the Camp David and Annapolis failures.
Israelis understand that this is not a dispute about the size of the Jewish State, but about its existence.
The Israeli consensus as demonstrated by Netanyahu and Gantz’s ready approval, remains – opposition to a One State solution which would endanger the Jewish majority; the division of territory on demographic considerations and not solely biblical/historical ones; the retention of territory required for security considerations; and the resolution of the so called Palestinian right of return outside the borders of Israel.
The Israeli question is not the consensus – but rather, how to achieve it.
The Trump plan offers Israel a way to do so.
Of course the only problem is that the Palestinians flatly reject it.
This will make it hard for the Arab parties in Israel to support Gantz from within or without after the March election, whether they were ever going to anyway – but they will prefer his more cautious approach to the timing of annexation and may have no choice if their priority will be to stop Netanyahu.
Despite the objections to Gantz’s support of the plan from the Labor/Meretz/Gesher block to the left of Blue & White, they have nowhere else to go after the March 2ndelection, except with Gantz.
Similarly, despite Netanyahu’s acceptance of the plan and therefore of a Palestinian entity and settlement freeze which will make it hard for elements of the Netanyahu’s own party and those to his right to support him after the election – they have nowhere else to go if they want to block Gantz’s slower approach to annexation and his requirement for “international agreement” to any annexation move.
What the right of Netanyahu hopes for is that acceptance of this plan will give them annexation now, but no Palestinian entity because they can be relied upon to once again refuse any form of statehood offered to them.
– Trump has shown that when it comes to deal making, he understands that both sides need to compromise on something. And he has left his map as a “conceptual”one with room for some Palestinian counteroffer, which experience tells us they will almost certainly not make.
– The main failing of the Trump plan is that its premise, or underlying assumption, is just plain wrong. It assumes that the Palestinians have changed their basic aim as expressed in 1921.
History shows, and they repeatedly demonstrate, that they are more interested in blocking a Jewish State, than in building a Palestinian one.
– The Trump plan includes a longstanding Lieberman concept. That of redrawing the map in Israel’s north east where there is a concentration of Israeli Arab towns. Lieberman has repeatedly proposed redrawing Israel’s boundaries so that about 250,000 Israeli Arabs in 14 towns and villages inside Israel proper would find themselves in the future Palestinian entity – without moving from their homes.
His aim is to make Israel smaller in land size, but improve the Jewish demographic ratio.
Lieberman too is a Trump plan fan.
However, Trump’s plan has this happening only if Israel and Israeli Arabs agree to it.
Interestingly, Netanyahu once again rejected the idea outright last week.
Of course Israeli Arabs are the ones most vehemently opposed to living in a Palestinian state and they focused on that as the biggest negative of the Trump plan.
Simply, Israel Arabs want to live in the Jewish State – not a Palestinian one.
That in a nutshell should tell all rational people the true essence of life in the Middle East.
Dr Ron Weiser AM
Dr. Ron Weiser AM is an Hon Life Member of the Zionist Federation of Australia Executive, and the Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW.