By Ted Belman Feb 8/20
Trump’s Deal of the Century embodied in Peace to Prosperity recently tabled is not a two state solution because what is being offered to the Palestinians falls far short of being a state. Though it enlarges their territory beyond Areas A and B (as defined by the Oslo Accords) to amount to a total area equivalent to the whole West Bank, it diminishes their autonomy. For instance, their government will be required to “adopt[ing] basic laws protecting human rights, protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists.” For purposes of this article, I will refer to what they are being offered as a “statelet”.
This deal does not give them, what they, the leadership, want, namely to enrich themselves and to destroy Israel so why should they accept it. The Palestinians have no say in the matter.
I have yet to read of any pundit who believes that such a statelet will be created.
Surely the Trump team knows this. So why did they table the vision?
In my opinion, he wanted to present a new vision to replace the old vision. During the next four years they will advance their vision and negate the old vision.
The old vision, was basically Oslo Accords signed in 1993 1nd 1995 and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which demanded 100% withdrawal by Israel. In addition, it demanded the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and the division of Jerusalem. This initiative was premised on the Palestinian narrative that presented the Palestinians as indigenous and the Israelis as interlopers, oppressors and occupiers.
Til now, the US has done its utmost to “shrink Israel down to size” which was its stated goal according to Henry Kissinger in 1975. When PM Begin made peace with Anwar Sadat he was under great pressure by Pres Carter to agree to withdraw from every inch of the Sinai, which Begin agreed to do, and create a Palestinian state in the rest of the territories recovered by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967. The best he could get from Begin was that he would give the Arabs there, autonomy.
A few years later, Carter declared, on dubious grounds, that all Jewish settlements in the territories, were illegal.
When Israel was forced to rout Arafat and the PLO in south Lebanon in the early eighties due to their campaign of terror in Israel, she was stopped by Pres Regan just as she was preparing to deliver the coup de gras. Regan stepped in and arranged for the transport of Arafat and his men to Tunisia.
Though the US had assured Israel that she would not talk with the PLO, the US worked behind the scenes to make them a negotiating partner with Israel. When Pres H.W. Bush was preparing for the Madrid Conference in 1991, he insisted on the PLO being present as part of the Jordanian delegation and he insisted that Jerusalem be put on the negotiating table. PM Shamir, under great duress and in need of US financial guarantees to enable Israel to finance the Russian immigration, accepted.
Shimon Peres began negotiating with them in secret to cut a deal rather than to have one imposed on Israel by the US. The outcome of this was the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and 1995.
The Oslo Accords were supposed to be an interim solution only. According to the Peace to Prosperity document,
“The Oslo Accords, however, left numerous key issues unresolved pending the completion of permanent status negotiations, including, among other items, borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem. Those agreements did not create an effective path for neutralizing the kinds of crises that emerged during the implementation of Oslo, including waves of terror and violence.”
The Accords became a permanent constitution articulating the division of powers between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) over Parts A, B and C as delineated by the Accords. They enabled the PA to wage war on Israel and to reject any compromise.
The final status issues were impediments to reaching agreement because the PA was not prepared to compromise. In fact, they were not prepared to make an end of conflict agreement on any terms.
The new vision is built on recognizing “Israel’s valid legal and historical claims”.
President Trump, soon after he was inaugurated, began to undo the harm foisted on Israel by the US, the EU and the UN.
To this end, he has
- undermined UNRWA and cut its funding and questioning its legitimacy.
- undermined the PA, by kicking it out of Washington and reduced its financial support,
- recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has moved the US Embassy to it. In other words, he took Jerusalem off the table
- declared the settlements as not illegal
- induced Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and others to abandon the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 upon which the old vision is based
- challenged the UN and the EU for their efforts to delegitimize Israel
- questioned the number of real refugees remaining
Peace to Prosperity also takes many issues off the table. It recognized that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, that the “refugees” will have to be settled in places other than Israel and that Israel can extend its sovereignty over most of its settlements and the Jordan Valley long before an agreement with the Palestinians is reached. It also asserts,
“The State of Israel and the United States do not believe the State of Israel is legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100 percent of pre-1967 territory (a belief that is consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 242).”
That being the case, why did the document require Israel to give the statelet some of its own land?
As for the neglected Jewish refugees from Arab countries it provides;
“The Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab and Muslim countries also suffered. Most settled in the State of Israel and some settled elsewhere. The Jewish refugee issue, including compensation for lost assets, must also be addressed.
“Additionally, the State of Israel deserves compensation for the costs of absorbing Jewish refugees from those countries. A just, fair and realistic solution for the issues relating to Jewish refugees must be implemented through an appropriate international mechanism separate from the Israel-Palestinian Peace Agreement.”
This is long overdue.
While it does provide that “the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted”, it insists:
“Jerusalem’s holy sites should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths. People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”
This totally contradicts the present practice of limiting Jewish and Christian prayer there. As such it is a welcome relief.
It also provides preconditions to the establishment of the statelet.
“The following criteria are a predicate to the formation of a Palestinian State and must be determined to have occurred by the State of Israel and the United States, jointly, acting in good faith, after consultation with the Palestinian Authority:
‘The Palestinians shall have implemented a governing system with a constitution or another system for establishing the rule of law that provides for freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, protections for religious freedom and for religious minorities to observe their faith, uniform and fair enforcement of law and contractual rights, due process under law, and an independent judiciary with appropriate legal consequences and punishment established for violations of the law.
‘The Palestinians shall have established transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions capable of engaging in international market transactions in the same manner as financial institutions of western democracies with appropriate governance to prevent corruption and ensure the proper use of such funds, and a legal system to protect investments and to address market-based commercial expectations. The State of Palestine should meet the independent objective criteria to join the International Monetary Fund.
‘The Palestinians shall have ended all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity.
‘The Palestinians shall have achieved civilian and law enforcement control over all of its territory and demilitarized its population.
‘The Palestinians shall have complied with all the other terms and conditions of this Vision.”
Let us assume that all pundits are correct, namely that the statelet will not be created within the four years provided or ever. What are Israel’s options?
Israel can extend sovereignty throughout all the land and contend with the Arabs living there. Thus the Arabs will constitute 1/3 of the residents of Israel. Some Israelis want to offer them a path to citizenship. Others are vehemently opposed. If the Palestinians do not have citizenship after annexation, criticisms of Israel as being an apartheid state will dramatically increase. What’s to be done?
The present vision is to give Palestinian citizenship to all of them but if there is no Palestinian statelet, then what? With the cooperation of Jordan, Jordanian citizenship can be given to them instead. In fact, all of them currently have Jordanian citizenship but Jordan has attempted to retract or limit this citizenship.
Jordan has been a big supporter of the creation of Palestine pursuant to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. King Abdullah saw that as the only way to prevent Jordan from becoming Palestine. After all, 80% of Jordanians are Palestinian.
Let us imagine that Jordan changes its mind and agrees to become the Palestinian state in place of the one that fails to materialize pursuant to the Deal of the Century. This change of mind can come about either through the King having an epiphany or being replaced as ruler by Dr. Mudar Zahran, the Leader of the Jordanian Opposition.
Were this to happen, all Palestinians in both sides of the Jordan R. would become full Jordanian citizens. without restrictions. The two roads connecting this proposed statelet to Jordan would be completed facilitating transportation between Palestinians on both sides of the Jordan R.
Jordan would take over the administration of Areas A and B and Gaza in place of the PA and Hamas. Jordan would also fulfill the role of UNRWA in providing education, welfare and health care to all the current day refugees. By granting them citizenship they would no longer be refugees.
Rather than build the tunnel connecting Gaza to the rest of the statelet, at a cost exceeding $15 Billion, Jordan can invite all residents of Gaza to relocate in Jordan to receive these benefits. It is not too far-fetched to believe that the 1.7 million Arabs living in Gaza could be incentivized to relocate to Jordan which is only 100 miles away or to any other country prepared to accept them. The same goes for the Palestinians living in Judea and samaria.
It would not be necessary for Israel to give up any parts of its territory.
Israel would extend its law to all the lands west of the Jordan R including Gaza, if and when the population is greatly reduced, and the Arabs would become foreign residents in Israel with Jordanian citizenship.
The $50 Billion pledge to this vision could be provided to Jordan to enable it to become the home for all Palestinians, and provide them with jobs, education and healthcare.
Instead of investing in industrial parks in Area C in Israel to benefit the Arabs as proposed by Min Bennett and PM Netanyahu, these zones should be created in Jordan thereby incentivizing Arabs to emigrate to Jordan.
This is a two step solution.
The first step is to change the vision as above set out.
The second step is to make Jordan, Palestine.