If Israel rejects the Trump plan, a future American administration could take advantage of that rejection and offer us much less.
By DANNY AYALON, JPOST JUNE 5, 2020
A VIEW of the settlement of Eli, in Samaria. Yesha Council deputy head Yigal Dilmoni said yesterday that turning Judea and Samaria into ‘Gush Dan east’ could significantly help the country’s housing problems. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
This week marks 53 years on the civil calendar since the Six Day War.
I have vivid memories of this war.
I remember the terrifying tasks of running to the bomb shelter while hearing the siren on my way to school and being asked to dig graves for fallen soldiers. I also remember that proud moment when I saw my school teacher Yitzhak Yifat and his fellow paratroopers standing at the Western Wall upon its liberation. The reunification of Jerusalem, as well as the liberation of the Golan Heights and Judea and Samaria had renewed the faith of many Israelis, mine included, in a brighter and stronger future.
Yet as the years went on, no foreign country recognized our presence in these territories. Not even after the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin established Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Until US President Donald Trump arrived.
Two years ago, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, relocated his country’s embassy to its rightful location. Last year, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Four months ago this week, Trump presented Israel with another opportunity. With the unveiling of the “Peace to Prosperity” plan, Israel would finally have the opportunity to decide its borders with the consent of the largest world power.
Having met numerous times in the last few years at the White House with Jason Greenblatt and several times here in Israel with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, I remained convinced this plan would be the best one ever put forward. Indeed it is, and I support this plan strongly.
Previous plans did not take into account legitimate Israeli concerns, such as a permanent Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley; this plan does.
Previous plans did not take into account Israel’s historic connection to Jewish heritage sites in the Biblical heartland of Israel, such as the City of David, Hebron, Shiloh and Beit El; this plan does.
Even previous plans that were relatively generous, such as the Bush-Sharon letter I helped author, all maintained that implementation is dependent on the response of the Palestinian Authority. This plan does not.
This is a plan everyone can unite around, regardless of political background.
This is why it is supported by both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, who expressed this in their respective meetings with Trump in the Oval Office.
That’s why it is supported by many Arab countries, including Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, each of whom sent their ambassadors to be present at the announcement of the plan in the East Room of the White House.
That’s why it has such wide-ranging support here in Israel.
Supporters on the Left are excited because the plan includes a four-year construction freeze and a realistic offer for Palestinian statehood.
Supporters on the Right are excited because the plan allows Israel to establish sovereignty over existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Yet while the plan is so heavily popular in Israel and the region, we have a small-but-loud minority who would sadly prefer that Israel miss this opportunity.
As sad as it might be, the small number of opponents from the far-left were expected in any scenario. After all, they constantly undermine Israel’s sovereignty and thus their opposition to this plan is nothing new.
What is most disappointing to me is that there are a few members of the Israeli Right who are opposing this plan, mainly several influential municipal leaders in Judea and Samaria.
In recent days, these officials have launched an unfortunate campaign to delegitimize the plan and mislead the Israeli people as to the facts and details of the plan.
In doing so, they claim that the plan seeks to establish a terror state in the heart of Israel.
The plan specifically says that the Palestinian Authority will be given four years to change its behavior. If it chooses to do so, it would have to renounce terror and violence, end its incitement and glorification of murderers, as well as its gross pay-for-slay program. Additionally, it would be forced to reform its education system to include recognition of the Jewish state. If the Palestinians become like Canada, it would hardly be a “terror state.”
These officials also claim that, according to the plan, this plan would come “at the expense of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.”
Under this plan, no Jew or Arab would be forced to leave his or her home. While previous proposals have suggested that hundreds of thousands of people evacuate their residences, which the Gaza Disengagement proved to be catastrophic, this plan will keep all existing communities intact.
They also claim a better opportunity could arise in the future.
Don’t be too sure.
If Israel rejects the Trump plan, a future American administration could take advantage of that rejection and offer us much less. If Israel accepts and implements the Trump plan, it would be nearly impossible for a future US President who is less sympathetic to Israel to change the facts on the ground. And if indeed a future president wishes to build on the Trump plan and offer us more, they will not have to start from scratch.
There is a Talmudic saying: “Tafasta Meruba, Lo Tafasta.” “If you grasp it all, you lose it all.”
Israel cannot grasp all of Judea and Samaria at once. We cannot even grasp all of Area C at once. If we demand this, we lose it all. Let’s not be like the ones who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Let’s take what’s offered to us and make the best of it. It’s simply the best offer ever made to us.
The writer previously served as Israel’s deputy foreign minister and as ambassador to the US.