Column One: Netanyahu’s challenge with Trump

Trump doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors.

By Caroline B Glick, JPOST

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum

On Thursday, less than 48 hours after US President Donald Trump completed his successful visit to Israel, his chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt was back in town.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set the tone for Greenblatt’s mission when he told reporters aboard Air Force One that during his visit, Trump “was putting a lot of pressure” on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas “to get back to the table” and negotiate a peace deal.

Tillerson went on to explain why Trump is so keen to make a deal.

“We solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace dilemma, we start solving a lot of the peace throughout the Middle East region,” he said.

At his joint appearance with Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, Trump said, “I firmly believe that if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it will begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East.”

These statements, and Greenblatt’s swift return here indicate that as of now, on a substantive, strategic level, Trump is maintaining Obama’s policies on Israel and the Palestinians. And Obama’s policies on the issue, it bears noting, were substantively all but indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush before him.

Like his predecessors, Trump is advancing a policy that assumes that the Palestinian conflict with Israel is the key issue that the US must grapple with in the Middle East. He is advancing the view that the US’s power in the region, and its ability to foster stability and security, are tied to what happens or does not happen in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to a degree, in Hamas-controlled Gaza. In short, like his predecessors, Trump believes that putting pressure on Israel to give land to the PLO is the key to resolving the conflicts of the Middle East.

Trump’s adoption of his predecessors’ policies on Israel and the Palestinians indicates that at least with everything related to Israel and its position in the region, he is not following his own maxim. He is not adjusting America’s “strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts.”

He is not “discard[ing] those strategies that have not worked” or “apply[ing] new approaches informed by experience and judgment.”

To be sure, there are contrary indicators that give Israelis reason to hope that a significant revision of the US strategic approach is afoot.

Trump for instance did not mention the issue of Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

But then again, doing so would have undermined the purpose of his trip to Israel.

Trump visited Israel to show that he is a Zionist and a friend of the Jewish state. Had he gotten into a fight with the government about whether Jewish property rights should be respected in Israel’s capital and heartland, he would have failed to achieve his goal.

Moreover, why should he get his hands dirty? That’s what he has Greenblatt for.

There are a lot of people in Washington who are working diligently to ensure that Trump maintains his predecessors’ policy on Israel and the Palestinians.

But from Israel’s perspective, the man whose job it is to move Trump in a new direction is Prime Minister Netanyahu. Clearly, to date, Netanyahu has failed to secure this objective.

Netanyahu failed to convince Trump to abandon the anti-Israel two-state model and the anti-Israel notion that there is a direct correlation between the pathologies of the Islamic world and the absence of a Palestinian state, because Netanyahu refused to offer an alternative strategy for dealing with Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

Netanyahu didn’t fail to offer an alternative to the two-state model because he believes it is the right model to follow. He doesn’t believe it is the right model to follow.

Netanyahu’s failed to offer an alternative to the two-state model because he has bought into a different false notion – purveyed by supporters of the two-state model. Netanyahu has come to believe that the only alternative to the establishment of a Palestinian terror state in Israel’s capital city and its heartland (in addition to the Palestinian state in Gaza), is the one-state model.

According to adherents of the two-state model, a one-state model is a recipe for Israel’s demographic collapse. If Israel applies its laws to Judea and Samaria, they argue, the Palestinians who live there must all immediately receive Israeli citizenship. Given that they number 1.5 million to 2.5 million people, if Israel were to confer citizenship on all the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, its Jewish majority would shrink significantly, or even be lost. And if Israel doesn’t naturalize them, it will cease to be a democracy.

At this juncture, it must be noted that at its core, the two-state model is not a strategy. Governments discard strategies when they fail. And the two-state model has failed repeatedly and consistently for nearly a hundred years.

The two-state model is a utopian fantasy. For its adherents, history will end the minute the PLO receives sovereignty over all of Judea, Samaria and over eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem.

And since it is a utopian fantasy, despite the fact that it has never done anything but fail, adherents of the two-state model never reassess their faith in it. To the contrary, with each failure, they think of new and creative ways to ensure that it is never abandoned.

The demographic threat is a key component of this effort. And just as the two-state formula has brought war and instability not peace and stability, so its implementation will not remove a demographic sword from Israel’s neck. It will cause Israel’s demographic and strategic destruction.

If a Palestinian state is ever established, in short order it will be flooded with millions of “immigrants” from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and beyond. These “immigrants” include the so-called Palestinian refugees who dwell in UN camps controlled by Hezbollah, ISIS, al-Qaida and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. They will be joined by jihadists who will march on Jerusalem.

None of these “immigrants” will take kindly to the idea of Israel or its peace partners. They can be expected to overthrow the treacherous PLO and Hamas and then make war against a shrunken Israel with new permeable borders it is incapable of defending.

In other words, the establishment of a Palestinian state is an existential demographic and strategic threat that Israel has no means of countering.

Given the stakes, it is clear that if, as the two-state faithful insist, Israel has but two options going forward, then it is better off with the one-state option.

But the fact is that just as the two-state model is not a strategy, so its adherents’ presentation of Israel’s strategic options as a binary choice between a two-state and one-state model is a false choice. Israel doesn’t have a binary choice. Between the one-state and two-state models is a vast expanse of strategic options that Israel can choose from.

To recognize those choices and decide among them, our leaders must simply break down the problem in Judea and Samaria to its component parts.

From a security perspective, Israel cannot defend itself without permanent control over the Jordan Valley, the Samarian and Hebron mountain ranges and the southern and northern outskirts of Jerusalem. In other words, to long survive, Israel requires perpetual control over Area C.

From a societal and civil rights perspective, it is untenable and wrong to maintain Israel’s now 50-year-old military government in Area C. Today nearly half a million Israelis are treated as second class citizens. They lack basic due process rights in property disputes. They cannot register their land purchases if they purchase land from Palestinians or prove ownership if that ownership is disputed.

Finally, the people of Israel rationally fear the consequences of naturalizing 1.5 million to 2.5 million Palestinians who have been indoctrinated for more than 25 years to seek their annihilation.

In summary, we need to maintain perpetual control over the areas because we cannot survive without them from a military perspective. We need to change the system of governance in Area C to correct the civil rights infringement of the military government on the Israelis who live in the areas.

And we don’t want to naturalize 1.5 million to 2.5 million Palestinians.

Fortuitously, as far as the first two issues are concerned, the answer is the same. If Israel applies its laws to Area C it both ensures its military control of the areas critical to its survival for the long haul and it ends the inequitable and undemocratic civil rights infringement on its citizens who live there.

As for the Palestinians in Areas A and B, which are under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, one of the things that no one ever mentions is that these people – some 98% of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria – have not lived under Israeli control since 1996.

For the past 21 years, all Palestinians in Judea and Samaria have lived under Palestinian rule. They carry Palestinian passports. Their births and deaths are recorded in the Palestinian population registry. They vote in Palestinian elections.

No one has ever explained why the Palestinians cannot continue to live under Palestinian autonomy in the future. Why must Israel cancel their autonomous rule?

This brings us to another point, which is a secondary issue for Israel but a primary one for the Palestinians: Palestinian economic prosperity.

Trump said in Bethlehem that he is interested in spurring Palestinian economic growth. The fact is that the Palestinian economy grew the most when it was integrated in the Israeli economy. Integration with the Israeli economy, rather than handouts to PLO kleptocrats, is the key to Palestinian prosperity.

In all of his speeches during his recent visit, as well as during his joint appearance with Netanyahu at the White House in February, Trump made clear that he is not wedded to the two-state model. Indeed, despite the entreaties of some of his advisers, Trump has refused to endorse Palestinian statehood even as he implements a policy whose goal is the establishment of such a state.

In Riyadh, Trump said, “We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking.”

It isn’t too late for Netanyahu to come forward. He can offer an alternative to the failed two-state fantasy. He can release himself, his country and Trump from the two-state/one-state cognitive straitjacket.

Trump doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors. But absent a clear strategic plan of action from Netanyahu, he will have no choice but to do so.

May 26, 2017 | 8 Comments » | 103 views

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8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. Yes, the State Department is dominated by Obama holdovers. Yes, there doesn’t appear to be a change in policy regarding the Arab/Israeli conflict.

    But she fails to point out what is different now. Trump embraced the Zionist narrative. He made no mention of a Palestinian state, the “occupation” or illegal settlement construction. He got Saudi Arabia to publicly to commit to stop the flow of funds to terrorists and to name the terrorists it would fight.

    Perhaps the State Department is not in charge. Perhaps Trump is calling the shots. He has appointed his own people to work on the conflict namely Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman. The State Department has been shut out.
    These people will not be selling Israel out. Wait and see.

  2. @ Ted Belman:
    “…Those who do not understand that there is nothing that Israel can possibly do, that there are no compromises it can make, that there is nothing short of full retreat to the 1967 borders that will satisfy the United States-are the same fools as the servant who ate, got whipped and in the end had to pay anyhow,

    Their refusal to make the difficult choice of telling the Americans “no”, now, at this moment, will see them making the retreats they hope will avert American anger; it will see this effort fail even as the frontier moves from its present lines within the Arab heartland to new ones close to the Jewish cities; and most important, the Americans will make the same demands they always have envisioned since the days of the Roger Plan-total Israeli withdrawal. And since this is a thing that not even the most dovish of Israelis will agree to, the result will be an ultimate Israeli firm “no”, an ultimate American anger of the kind all men of “new initiative” propose to avert today by compromise, and exactly the same conditions of confrontation that would come anyhow if the Israelis said their “no” today. There would be one great difference, however, a “no” today will bring the crisis while Israel stands poised near the Arab capitols. A “no” tomorrow, after all the hapless and confused compromises and “initiatives,” will bring the same crisis near Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Netanya…”

    “Israel, US and the Stinking Fish – Written by Rav Kahane in 1976”

    “What was the Rogers Plan in 1969?

    Dr. Gunnar Jarring, Sweden’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union, was appointed by the United Nations to work with Israel and the Arab states to try to implement UN Security Council Resolution 242. This was a strange appointment because Jarring remained Ambassador to the Soviet Union, a country which had broken off its diplomatic relations with Israel, making it difficult or impossible for Jarring to do anything that might be viewed as favorable to Israel. Jarring met with parties in the Middle East in early 1968, but the Arab states refused direct or even indirect contact with Israel and Jarring was not the man to challenge them.

    By 1969, the Nixon administration, with Henry Kissinger as National Security Adviser, was deeply committed to a detente with the Soviet Union and reaching some agreement on the Middle East was vital to their efforts. On March 13, 1969, Israel’s Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin met with US Secretary of State William Rogers to discuss a set of US proposals for Arab-Israeli peace, the first time in US-Israel relations that the US had authored its own plan. The plan was completely unacceptable to Israel since it called for Israel’s unilateral withdrawal to pre-1967 borders without any Arab peace and security commitments to Israel. Israel rejected the plan, but the US presented it to the Soviet Union and Arab states nonetheless. The Arab and Soviet governments turned it down, refusing to discuss any bi-lateral agreement with Israel. They insisted on a UN-imposed withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, to be guaranteed by the UN and buttressed by security arrangements. The secret plan, never announced publicly, seemed to be dead. Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir visited the United States in late September 1969, and met with President Nixon in Washington on September 25 and 26. By the end of 1969, there was heavy fighting along the Suez Canal, and Arab terrorists were engaged in sabotage actions against Israel from Jordan and Syria, assisted by the armed forces of those two countries. On December 9, US Secretary of State Rogers, revived the plan by making the same proposals for a Middle East peace settlement, based on an interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242, in a public speech that became known as the Rogers Plan, although it was really Nixon’s plan. Golda Meir described the Rogers Plan as a disaster for Israel, saying:

    It would be irresponsible for any Israeli government to support such a plan.
    The administration did not consult with Israel before the plan was announced, and the American secretary of state, who had met with foreign minister Abba Eban a few days before, concealed the imminent announcement from him. The proposals were still unacceptable to Israel who recalled Yitzchak Rabin, their US ambassador, to return home for consultations.On December 22, 1969 Israel’s Cabinet formally rejected the Rogers Plan.In a vote in the US Congress in 1970, 70 Senators and 280 Representatives rejected Secretary of State Rogers’ peace plan as being too one-sided against Israel.”

    The fact that “Palestinian” Sovereignty was not yet introduced changed nothing. It was never about that. That was just a Trojan Horse introduced later by the Arabs who, in this context, represent a single bloc.

    Allowing any more territory to fall into the grasp of the PA, is handing over territory to a mortal enemy. We seem to have trouble understanding that they are not chiefly motivated by desire for a better life, self-determination or equality or anything else but eliminationist anti-semitism rooted in replacement theology. It is a zero sum game. Swaps? People can be moved around. We must be committed to eventually recovering all the land, not giving it away to terrorist gangs. They have no independent existence of their own. Every thing they do or are is nothing but a demented, corrupted, plagiarized copy of us and of how we have lived and done things. They are the living refutation of the oft-repeated axiom to the effect that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Probably also explains, though, why they have been able to get such passionate support from so many Jews, sublimating their own Zionism into their vicarious identification with who they believe the “Palestinians” are. This ability to sublimate has worked to the benefit of the U.S. too. Aaron Copland, who is known for writing some of the most quintessential American music, in his letters, showed that he was sublimating his love of Israel into love of America.

    ” Ben-Gurion stated his belief that partition would be just the beginning.[5][6] The sentiment was recorded by Ben-Gurion on other occasions, such as at a meeting of the Jewish Agency executive in June 1938,[7] as well as by Chaim Weizmann.[6][8] In the letter, Ben-Gurion wrote:
    “Does the establishment of a Jewish state [in only part of Palestine] advance or retard the conversion of this country into a Jewish country? My assumption (which is why I am a fervent proponent of a state, even though it is now linked to partition) is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end but the beginning…. This is because this increase in possession is of consequence not only in itself, but because through it we increase our strength, and every increase in strength helps in the possession of the land as a whole. The establishment of a state, even if only on a portion of the land, is the maximal reinforcement of our strength at the present time and a powerful boost to our historical endeavors to liberate the entire country”.[9]”

    So, the Soviet position, which has become that of the “international community” was a UN imposed withdrawal. The US position was a unilateral withdrawal by Israel. Looks like the US got its way. The vetos of hostile UN pronouncements was merely a question of means. Always sugar coated by sappy speeches about eternal friendship. We are such suckers for that. No wonder we made Hollywood what it became. Sentimentality is at once our strength and our weakness.

    Swaps are a trap. They must disengage and pull out their people as we did in Gaza. They won’t do that. So, they must be either persuaded to leave or deported.

    Also, your article a ways back, which you corrected to include the Reagan Plan, still omitted the Rogers Plan which I looked up because Kahane emphasized it as the beginning of US policy. I was dismayed to read now that it was the Nixon Plan. He did rescue Israel in 1973 but it was really a question of giving with one hand and taking back with the other.

    Johnson was a friend but did nothing to help during the lead up to the six day war because of our committments in Vietnam. Nice excuse.

    Truth: Israel has no real friends who can be relied upon, including the American Jewish community. Israel should practice “Juche”*

  3. For Israel Trump will be much worse than Obama…. He is totally transactional. He will tie all support Israel requires from America to real Israeli compromises to the Palis. I think making the “Ultimate Deal” for him is the most important goal of his presidency. He will use his court Jews (including his vile daughter and son in-law to that effect. He already knows he can manipulate and command BB to do whatever he demands. He will do nothing to stop Iran, curb Pali Terror all the while demanding of Israel to be ever forthcoming to demands by Abbas and Hamas.

    The conflict of interests also revolves around ISIS.. ISIS as long as they fight Assad/Russia/Iran are our unspoken ally as long as they fight our more serious existential enemies… Israel thus have some common regional interests with Turkey.

    Israel can block some of what Trump intends doing by going public even thru leaks describing what Trump is doing and it’s adverse effects on Israel. It will not sit well with much of his base and drive his poll numbers down and maybe even some stiff support from a few Republican legislators especially in the Senate. In the end our problem with Trump is less Trump than BB who has no backbone to stand against Trump probably because he agrees with what Trump intends to accomplish as long as he can survive politically at home.

  4. @ yamit82:

    “Analysis ISIS Settles Score With Israel for Egypt’s War on Sinai Jihadists
    In light of the threat from Sinai, Egypt has deployed 20,000-25,000 soldiers to the area, far exceeding the amount allowed by the Israel-Egyptian peace accords. But with Israel’s blessing and intelligence cooperation, Wilayet Sinai’s 1,000 fighters are on the back foot.”

    Amos Harel Feb 15, 2017 9:03 AM
    read more:

    Why Turkey Is Fighting the
    Kurds Who Are Fighting ISIS

    MainOpEdsYazidis in Turkey on the verge of extinction

    Yazidis in Turkey on the verge of extinction
    Yazidi villages have now been turned into Yazidi-free zones. What has happened?
    Contact Editor Uzay Bulut, 27/04/17 20:00

  5. @ yamit82:
    But, to make it even crazier, there’s even a Turkish backed faction of Kurds.!

    I also found articles about Kurds fighting for and against Assad. In the past, different Kurdish factions, based on who they were allied with, sided with or against Israel.

    Israel has no solid allies. Class assignment: Write this out 100 times.*

    “All That is Solid Melts into Air” -Karl Marx, Marshall Bermann


    Life of Brian – ROMANES EUNT DOMUS

  6. Tillerson said,

    We solve the Israeli-Palestinian peace dilemma, we start solving a lot of the peace throughout the Middle East region.

    He might as well stated that if Trump could coach the winning team in the NFL Super Bowl, it would solve the a lot of sluggishness in the world economy.

  7. :
    From wiki:

    Tillerson reported that Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged (1957) is his favorite book

    Yes, but a young Greenspan was a confidant of Rand and might even now express a lifelong admiration for her, but his central bank policies were anything but randian.

    Still, this guy Tillerson looks to be a decent, hard-working, affable, 100% private sector fellow. Which is more than I can say for probably 99% of the ossified, egghead bureaucrats who occupy Foggy Bottom.

    If Tillerson is misinformed about the Middle Eastern conflict, he wouldn’t be the first person to be so afflicted.

  8. Seems as if all our clever intellectuals are unable to comprehend the obvious solution. Yes, “two states for two peoples” but the other state is JORDAN. It is the fault of Netanyahu and the Jewish establishments in Israel and America that this obvious solution is not even considered. It is time for new leadership in Israel and Moshe Feiglin with his Zehut party is the only one with fresh ideas.

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