“The Deal of the Century,” if the leaked details are even close to accurate, is a non-starter. That is the simple take-away. But should Israel wait for the Arabs to blow it up on their own? And then what?
The basic contours being leaked about the forthcoming Trump Mideast plan, which he predictably, in his own typically understated modest way, calls “The Deal of the Century,” suggest that:
1. Israel would get to annex all Jewish communities presently established in Judea and Samaria.
2. Approximately 30-40 percent of Judea and Samaria formally would be integrated into Israel, reunifying those lands.
3. The Arabs in Judea and Samaria (“Palestinians”) would get their own independent country in what is left of Judea and Samaria after Israel annexes its 30-40 percent.
4. Hamas would have to be demilitarized.
5. “Palestine” would have to be demilitarized.
6. Jerusalem would be united. Arabs in Jerusalem could deem themselves “Palestinians.”
7. No new Jewish neighborhoods would be allowed to be added to Greater Jerusalem.
8. No new Jewish communities could be created in Judea and Samaria.
9. Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that presently exist and are being annexed would not be permitted to expand further.
10. “Palestine” would be barred from having a military and would be protected instead by Israel, with “Palestine” paying for the protection.
11. Egypt will allow a Gaza airport to be built on its turf.
12. Other things, too, dealing primarily with which countries pay for what.
For self-respecting Jews, the proposal is a non-starter. No Jew has the power to relinquish our eternal right to a single inch of the Land of Israel. The premise that any Jewish community cannot expand is absurd, and no Jew can agree to that. Because the “Deal of the Century” is facially unacceptable, the question to be asked, therefore, is not whether Jews should accept it but whether Jews should bother shooting it down inasmuch as the Arabs undoubtedly will shoot it down first. That is, do Jews have some kind of obligation to “bear witness” here before the Arabs sabotage the proposal anyway?
No “Palestinian” will accept any compromise on one inch of Jewish land that the Arab Muslims claim for themselves in Judea and Samaria. When Avigdor Liberman, in his somewhat more lucid days before he went completely insane, proposed the novel idea that the Arabs should allow Israel to annex the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria in return for Israel ceding to the Arabs equivalent land masses in what is called “The Triangle” where Arabs have their own towns, the “Palestinians” immediately shot it down. When Ehud Barak flew to Clinton in America and offered Arafat almost every inch of land that the “Palestinians” demand, Arafat responded by launching an Intifada rather than give up a claim to a single dunam. Any “Palestinian” who even expresses interest in contemplating the plan will be shot down — literally — before the plan is.
Hamas will not agree to be demilitarized. The premise is ridiculous. That is their reason for existing. But that nonsensical illusion does invite an important additional observation: Even if the “Palestinians” do go through the charade of “accepting” the plan and “promising” to demilitarize, they never will honor their word. We know that from so many prior experiences with them that the reality speaks for itself. In Oslo, they promised to stop educating their children to incitement. Remember that one?
The reason that the United States today enjoys warm relations with the Germany that we bombed to smithereens in World War II and that killed so many American boys at Normandy, in Italy at Mount Cassini, in Market Garden, in Hurtgen Forest, and throughout Europe is that, once the Nazis were crushed, the Germans promised to reeducate their people to embrace freedom and democracy, and their alliance with America — and they honored their word. Likewise with Japan.
Despite Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, the tortures that Americans faced from the Japanese in Corregidor and during the Bataan Death March, the deaths in the battles of Midway, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the banzai charges, the hari-kari air attacks, and the justified atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, today America and Japan are very strong friends because the Japanese honored their pledge to educate their new generation to value freedom and the Western alliance.
Theoretically, there likewise would be great peace today in the Mideast if Arafat and Abu Mazen (“Mahmoud Abbas”) had honored the “Palestinian” pledge at Oslo to teach the children of “Palestine” about peace and how to live alongside Israel in mutual harmony and fraternity. Instead, they emerged from Oslo, got what governmental authority they could, and then doubled-down on teaching hate — from school textbooks to children’s television shows to kids’ summer camps. They actually intensified their hate training after getting what they wanted at Oslo.
Anti-Jewish hate and the dream to destroy Israel became part of the UNRWA curriculum throughout “Palestine.” Israel was kept out of maps. Children’s songs about jihad terrorism, idolizing shahid terrorists, dominated school curricula. Since Oslo, they have reared two new generations to hate Israel even more than before. That is what they have demonstrated their promises are worth.
Fools like Ehud Barak, Israel’s most incompetent Prime Minister, and the older Ariel Sharon in his last years blustered that, if Arabs would dare violate their promises to remain demilitarized as Israel withdrew unilaterally from South Lebanon and Gaza, then Israel would just march right back in and return the lands to their status quo ante, with Israel back in control. Bluster, pure bluster.
We, who were ever-so-much more sensible than they, demurred that “Israel will find that, once the land is handed over to the terrorists, it will not be practicable to take the land back.” Sadly, our prognostications were right and have been borne out by contemporary history. In the same way, even if the “Palestinians” would respond to trump by lying through their teeth and saying they will honor the terms of the “Deal of the Century,” they still would start militarizing immediately upon gaining their “country.” History twice has demonstrated the same in South Lebanon, too.
Ehud Barak, who touted himself as “Mr. Security,” gave up South Lebanon without a deal, and the United Nations set up UNIFIL to “guarantee” that South Lebanon never would be re-armed to pose a threat to attack Israel. And now Israel’s nightly news regularly reports on Israeli preparations for a terrible war impending with Hezbollah and its massive infrastructure of rockets and missiles.
If Israel ever were to give Abu Mazen and his murderers in Judea and Samaria more governmental authority than their current “Palestine Authority” was given at Oslo, Israel would find so-very-predictably that it later cannot reenter the Jewish lands in Judea and Samaria that it will have relinquished to them. And suddenly the impossibility of Jewish civilians living under constant bombardment, with parents and their young children racing nightly to bomb shelters — the existence that defines life in Israel’s South that is within the range of Hamas and in the North that is within Hezbollah’s reach — would permanently redefine life in the center of Israel and along the coastal plain, converting the entire country from the Third Jewish Commonwealth to a carnival shooting gallery with the Jews as the sitting ducks.
Even non-Arab, non-Muslim polities have demonstrated very convincingly over the past century how demilitarization works when a society changes its mind. Japan was not supposed to re-arm. Germany was barred by the terms of the armistice ending The Great War from re-arming. The Treaty of Versailles barred post–World War I Germany from having an air force, armored vehicles, and certain types of naval vessels. In addition, it established a demilitarized zone in the Rhineland. How well did that work?
The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, was signed during 1922 among the major nations that had won World War I. It aimed to prevent an arms race by limiting naval construction. By December 29, 1934, the Japanese government gave formal notice that it intended to terminate the treaty. Soon enough there were Midway, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Okinawa, Iwo Jima. How well did that work? Yes, it has worked after World War II because both Germany and Japan, for now, have reeducated their citizenry and have demonstrated how much better life is in an alliance with the West where countries like America bear the cost of defending them. That will not happen with the “Palestinians.”
So “The Deal of the Century,” if the leaked details are even close to accurate, is a non-starter. That is the simple take-away.
The more complex analysis turns on whether it is much more sensible for Israel, decidedly without embracing it, to just sit back and let the “Palestinians” blow it up on their own. From recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to moving the United States embassy there, to recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to declaring the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria as not inherently illegal, to cutting off funding for UNRWA and throwing the PLO out of Washington and pulling America out of the anti-Jewish United Nations Human Rights Council, Trump repeatedly has proven himself unequivocally and with dizzying consistency as an outstanding friend of Israel, and certainly better than any Jew in American party politics.
It may even be that the “Deal of the Century” has been concocted to break the impasse by inducing the “Palestinian” leadership to prove what they are, thereby justifying Israel moving ahead with Reunification (“annexation”). Once the “Palestinians” reject the Trump Plan outright, there remains no further excuse for Israel to refrain from reunifying the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, for once and for all. The justification for reunification becomes that the “Palestinians” once again “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The door then is opened to move forward.
And that massive reunification of Judea and Samaria will be a very big deal indeed. The deal of the century.
The writer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .