Trump may succeed where all others have failed

By Ted Belman ( first published May 28/17)

The NYT published a major report this week on Pres Trump’s Mid East trip which it titled “Trump Leaves Middle East With Hope for Peace, but No Plan for It”. This title didn’t reflect the article which went no farther than to say, “What Mr. Trump did not do was reveal the least hint of what, if anything, was behind it“, referring to his hope. The article later acknowledged that “strict secrecy” was a good thing.

A close scrutiny of the statements made in the last few days and the events leading up to this trip would strongly suggest that Pres Trump is right to be cautiously optimistic because he has a plan.

After relentless pressure from Pres Obama and Secretary Kerry, PM Netanyahu came close to accepting the Kerry framework based on the ’67 ceasefire lines with swaps as borders and a divided Jerusalem.

On Feb 24/17 the Times of Israel and the AP published a report on a secret regional conference that took place in Aqaba, a year earlier. In attendance were Netanyahu, King Abdullah and al Sisi, among others.

” According to a US official and an Israeli source familiar with the plan cited by Haaretz, the prime minister detailed five steps Israel could take to promote a regional peace initiative aimed at reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, and also asked for US assurances on a number of issues.”

The plan, according to the two sources, included:

“1. The approval of large-scale Palestinian construction and advancement of economic initiatives in Area C in the West Bank, where Israel maintains security control, the approval of infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip, closer coordination with the Palestinian Authority, including allowing entry of weapons needed by its security forces.

“2. Positive public references by the Israeli government to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi initiative, including a willingness to negotiate the components with Arab states.

“3. The support and active participation of Arab states in a regional peace summit, including dispatching senior officials from Saudi Arabia , the UAE and other Sunni states to a public gathering attended by Netanyahu.

“4. Practical American recognition of construction in the settlements blocs, in exchange for a freeze outside those areas.

“5. A guarantee by the then-Obama administration to bloc any moves against Israel at the United Nations, including the use of its veto power at the Security Council.

“According to Haaretz, Kerry initiated the summit after complex bargaining with both Israel’s regional neighbors and its internal political players. Details of the proposal, ultimately rejected by Netanyahu, and the secret meeting came from former senior officials in the Obama administration.”

At that time, Netanyahu invited the Labour Zionists, headed by Isaac Herzog, to join his government, in order to overcome the resistance to the proposed deal by his own coalition. In the end, Israel Beteinu, headed by Avigdor Liberman, joined the coalition and that ended the initiative.

Netanyahu discussed this plan with Trump when he met with him in the White House on Feb 14/17. In the press conference after the meeting, Trump proposed a regional solution and said that the US would no longer insist on a Palestinian state.  He ended by saying “I’d like to see you hold back off on settlements for a little bit,”

Trump dispatched his Mid East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to Israel in the second week of March where he spent 4 days in discussions with all the players. The message he carried was that his boss was serious about peace and so should the parties be.

This was followed by 4 days of intense talks in the White House between an Israeli delegation and the Trump people ostensible on the question of settlements but probably on the whole question of reaching a deal. Nothing conclusive was announced.

Four weeks later Trump made his historic visit to S. Arabia and Israel.

The log jam in negotiations which had existed for 50 years broke just prior to the trip.

Gulf States Offer Normalizing Israel Ties in Exchange for Partial Freeze on Settlements This is the first time the Gulf states showed flexibility.

In King Salman’s remarks at end of Trump’s visit, he said,

“We stress that achieving peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a just and necessary quest that requires joint sacrifices and sincere determination for the interest of all.”

Another first.

Ahead of Trump’s arrival in Israel, the Israel Cabinet approved a series of gestures at the request of Trump,

“The measures approved earlier on Sunday include extended opening hours at the Allenby Crossing, new industrial zones for the PA, and increased Palestinian Arab construction in Area C. Israel will determine the nature of the construction, be it agricultural, industrial or residential.’

Another first.

Perhaps the biggest first of all is that Abbas is now proposing to accept Israel keeping 6.5% of the territories rather than only 1.9% originally on offer. This means that Israel gets to keep Ariel, Maaleh Adumin and Gush Etzion in addition to the other blocs.

Arutz Sheva reported a couple of days ago,

“… Olmert had offered to compensate the Arabs with Israeli land equivalent to 5.8 percent of Judea and Samaria, along with a link to the Gaza Strip. The rejected offer also included placing Jerusalem’s Old City under international control.

“This time however, Jerusalem, the most controversial aspect of previous discussions, is not mentioned in the proposal that Abbas is allegedly meant to discuss with Trump during his visit.”

That’s a good thing.

These firsts didn’t just happen. According to Secretary Tillerson, Trump put Abbas and Netanyahu under great pressure to get them to move. He probably did the same to King Salman. At the same time, he made nice to all of them.

Thus the gap between the parties which was formerly considered huge now appears negotiable.

Mind you, Trump has avoided any mention of Palestine, settlements or occupation; all issues which have dominated discourse heretofore. Trump isn’t working to reach a final peace agreement. Instead, he is looking to achieve peace so that the coalition of Israel and the moderate Arab states together with the US can focus on terrorism and Iran.

Kushner, who along with international negotiations envoy Greenblatt has been tasked by Trump with relaunching the peace process, reportedly told Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Opposition, “We are planning to move fast in starting a diplomatic process in order to reach a deal.”  To this end, Greenblatt will be returning to Israel in a few days for follow up discussions with all sides.

I envisage an agreement in which

  • Israel gets to build in eastern Jerusalem and in all settlement blocks and the Arabs get to build in parts of Area C.
  • Jerusalem will remain under Israel’s jurisdiction.
  • The PA and Israel will have the same rights in A, B, C as they now have due to the Oslo Accords. Israel has exclusive rights in C. The PA has exclusive rights in A and B areas except that Israel has security rights in B.
  • Security will continue to be a joint enterprise. Thus, the IDF will remain in the territories. This is good for Israel and good for the Palestinians.
  • Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel
  • Israel will continue to improve the Palestinian economy with the help of the US.

Netanyahu’s five point plan tabled in February 2016, is being implemented.

But Trump isn’t satisfied yet.

Israel National news reported on Friday, May 26, 2017,

According to Channel 10 News, in meetings held this week, Americans discussed with Israel elements of a potential final agreement with the PA. The Israelis made it clear to the Americans that Israel cannot compromise when it comes to security arrangements in the final agreement.

“The Americans are reportedly not satisfied with the measures towards the PA that were approved by the Cabinet this week, and want to see more confidence-building measures. The administration gave Israel a list of proposals for such additional measures, including what was reported on Channel 10 News earlier this week: A move which would redefine sections of Area C in northern Samaria as Area B.”

Pro-Israel supports of Trump who believed him when he said he would not pressure Israel, are very disappointed. They are also disappointed with Netanyahu for stressing security rather than Israel’s right to the land and to Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel reported Friday evening that Netanyahu was taking the peace push seriously and was looking to broaden his coalition.  Here’s why.

“Ch 2 reported Friday night published a survey showing Israelis backing a two-state accord deal with the Palestinians, based on the 1967 borders adjusted to include the major settlement blocs, by 47% to 39%, with 14% undecided.

“The survey also showed Netanyahu backed by 35% as their choice for prime minister, far ahead of centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on 14%, with no other candidate in double figures. It also gave the Likud a healthy lead in Knesset seats, on 30, compared to Yesh Atid on 22, an improvement for the Likud on previous polls.”

If Israel is willing to follow through, Trump will not let Abbas reject the deal.

June 9, 2017 | 24 Comments » | 121 views

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24 Comments / 24 Comments

  1. Bibi was prepared to accept a deal a year ago. He is more ready now.

    The deal being crafted I think is.
    – Israel keeps Jerusalem and all blocs.
    – Israel probably gets E1
    – PA gets ’67 lines less the blocs.
    – IDF stays in J&S permanently
    – all Jewish settlements to remain. Jews living there will be subject to Israeli civil and criminal law.
    – Jews will have access to all religious sites
    – Gulf states will normalize with Israel

  2. The Council also gave full support to Abbas’ “nationalist” views and credited him with expressing “Palestinian” values in his meeting with US President Donald Trump.
    Abbas, who also participated in the meeting, said he continued to initiate peace and opposed anything which would endanger the PA’s goal of achieving independence and ending the Israeli “occupation.”
    According to Hebrew newspaper Israel Hayom, Abbas rejected Trump’s offer of a regional plan which would first entail normalizing relations with Israel’s neighbors and only afterwards discussing a Palestinian state.

    Enough Said

  3. Trump is right to be cautiously optimistic because he has a plan.

    General Custer also had a plan. Right up til the time when the arrows started flying.

  4. We cannot trust Trump and his administration which remains largely ignorant of history and of Jewish rights. We cannot trust Netanyahu and his coalition which are all wheeler dealers. We cannot trust the U.N. or the E.U. or Russia or China.
    Who can we trust? We CAN trust Abbas and his gang to remain faithful to the Arafat plan to eventually destroy Israel. We CAN trust Iran and North Korea to collaborate in their goal to destroy Israel.
    We CAN trust that Netanyahu will not allow the Israeli public to know what is being foisted upon them just as the bloody Oslo deal was foisted upon an uninformed Israeli public.
    Meanwhile Pollard remains under brutal house arrest with no end in sight and there is NO firm date to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
    There is nothing to cheer and much to worry about.

  5. PM detailed five steps Israel could take .. The plan ..

    Each of those five items involve MORE government, the approach that is most odious to peaceful coexistence.

  6. 4 days of intense talks in the White House between an Israeli delegation and the Trump people ..

    Oooh. I’m impressed.

    This reminds me of that great line in the first Bourne movie, uttered by the Conklin character:

    Why don’t you go upstairs and book a conference room. Maybe you can talk him to death..

  7. :
    This whole politically driven, “peace” negotiation process is one BIG crock of sh*t.

    The discussion always begins on how much the Israelis must give away.

    That is losing the peace.

    The Jews need to put the *Arabs* on the defensive.

    Make *them* justify their occupation of the Temple Mount and other parts of the Holy Land; indeed in every region they claim outside of the Arabian Peninsula.

    Make *them* justify why they need yet another state.

    Make *them* demonstrate goodwill towards Jews without preconditions.

    Make *them* come up with appeasement policies so as to prevent frustrated Israeli Jews from resorting to vigilanteism.

  8. @ Ted Belman:
    Ted, so you believe Abbas is going to agree to the following points:

    Israel keeps all of Jerusalem (e.g. Old City and Holy Places)
    Palestinians agree to waive the right of return
    IDF Stays in the Jordan Valley and elsewhere in Judea/Samaria
    Abbas recognizes a Jewish State

    I do not. Bibi is not agreeing to anything else.

  9. John Bolton is correct NO TWO STATE SOLUTION. NO to a TERROR STATE. New ideas needed. He has some but I do not buy those either as not solving the problem.

    Ex-UN envoy Bolton to JPost: Trump has no chance at ultimate peace deal

    In an exclusive interview with the ‘Post’ the former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said: “I don’t think the two-state solution is viable anymore.”

    Former American ambassador to the UN John Bolton told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that there is no chance President Donald Trump will secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Speaking just before he received an award from Bar-Ilan University at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Bolton added that Trump “is an optimistic man and can take a good shot at it, but I don’t think the conditions exist. I don’t think the two-state solution is viable anymore.”

    “It is not a question of personality or effort, it is just undoable. There has been a 70-plus year effort for the two-state solution,” which has failed, he argued, adding, “You can’t put it back together again.”

    Bolton said both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were not viable interlocutors for peace and that any two-state solution would lead to “a terror state or an anarchic state.”

    Instead, he proposed a three-state solution to include, “giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing up the West Bank – however it would be divided – with those not included in Israel becoming part of Jordan.”

    The plus for the Palestinians, according to Bolton, would be “two viable economies and a better life day-to-day for Palestinians and their children.”

    Considering that neither Hamas, Fatah, Jordan, Egypt – nor most of the world – favors such a solution, Bolton said he did not “underestimate the difficulty of a three-state solution. If you want to pursue the two-state solution. Knock it out – it isn’t going to work.”
    “Few people liked the German reunification,” Bolton added. “They got used to the circumstances as they were.”

    Further, he said Egypt could decide to take responsibility for Gaza “to try to create a stable security and economic situation” by reducing the “threat of the Muslim Brotherhood,” to which Hamas is linked. In other words, Bolton said taking Gaza would make it easier for Egypt to reduce the threat Hamas poses to it.

  10. More likely for near term on Israel Palestinian front and Trump negotiations:

    1. Gulf Arabs and Israel do not get to a formal agreement but keep cooperating on certain issues and do this a bit more openly

    2. Abbas and PA tell Trump they do not agree to Arab World First Agreement with Israel that Trump is trying to create. They keep funding terrorists and Trump eventually tires of dealing with them.

    3. The Status Quo with the Palestinians for the most part just continues.

    4. No Two State Solution Occurs and in fact it just withers more.

    5. Wars or Terror Actions could spur Israel to apply sovereignty to Area C or the Blocks after Trump tires of not achieving the ultimate deal.

  11. “”A generation of the unteachable is
    hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses.” ”

    Peace has always been a trap. Only Israel wants peace.

    “Syrian TV host: “When they talk about [the US] imposing a solution, we know that it will be deficient.”

    ‘Member of Fatah Central Committee Abbas Zaki: “You can relax. We find ourselves united for the first time. Even the most extreme among us, Hamas, or the fighting forces, want a state within the ’67 borders. Afterward, we [will] have something to say, because the inspiring idea cannot be achieved all at once. [Rather] in stages.”

    [Official Syrian Satellite TV Channel, Dec. 23, 2013]”

    “Sadat can be said to engage in deception only in the short-term. Like
    Hitler, who also engaged in short-term deception by asserting that
    various intermediate demands were “all” that he wanted, he has made
    amply clear his long range purposes. And as in 1938 Western statesmen
    see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Again they are ready to
    sacrifice smaller peoples without realizing that by standing up for them
    they might save themselves from disasters. Now the Western world can
    only engage in reveries of what might have been if the war against Hitler
    had been waged with the cooperation of a Czechoslovakia in possession
    of the strongest army, defenses and military arsenal in Europe. There
    may yet be dreams of what might have been if the strongest army in the
    Middle East had been able to defend Western interests in its present
    boundaries. Let us hope George Orwell’s pessimism will turn out to have
    been greater than was warranted: “A generation of the unteachable is
    hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses.” ”

  12. @ Ted Belman: Abbas will never agree. They’ve already got all the attributes of a state minus. Two states. How does this benefit them? They end their war to destroy Israel by salami tactics, terror, and turning the world against her. They lose all of their foreign aid without which their economies would collapse. Their economies would be shut out by Jordanian competition, as has been pointed out, I think Israel would still subsidize them, also leading to the collapse of their economies. The Pals have everything to lose and nothing to gain from peace. Unlike Jews, the pals and the wider arab muslim ummah of which they are a part, do not revere life and do not regard peace for its own sake as a worthwhile goal. They never built the infrastructure for an independent state. It’s just a foreign-subsidized military encampment. Isn’t it time to simply rout the enemy, if not all at once? The difference between the threat posed by the pals, the saudis, isis, the muslim brotherhood, boka haram, al quaida and all other muslim entities is only a question of immediacy. They are all mortal enemies who must eventually be crushed and dominated if Israel and the West is to survive. It just a question of priorities. And our so-called Muslim allies, like the Saudis, feel just the same about us.

  13. Isn’t a deal supposed to involve mutual compromise? Where are the PA’s concessions, which are not binding on Hamas in any way, in any case? And where are the penalties and enforcement mechanisms for breaking the deal?

    Saturday, June 10, 2017
    PMW Bulletins

    Abbas appointment of murderer to Fatah Central Committee means salaries to terrorists will not stop
    (June 9, 2017)

    Fatah spokesman presents Protocols of the Elders of Zion as authentic document
    Some Palestinians believe the Antisemitic forgery is an authentic document. (June 8, 2017)

    Rajoub lies to Palestinians: “I did not mention the word sovereignty” re. the Western Wall
    (June 7, 2017)

    Desiring 70 virgins made youth seek Martyrdom-death
    Youth: “70 beauties are waiting for me in Paradise” (June 5, 2017)

  14. @ Harry Green:
    I coined that phrase perhaps 10 years ago. My belief in its veracity has been shaken since I have come to understand that Netanyahu is quite prepared to embrace the Kerry framework and to work with the left to get it approved.

    As a result, the odds of reaching an agreement through diplomacy are much greater.

  15. @ Ted Belman:
    1. Israel wants a deal first with the Gulf Arabs on normalization.

    2. Abbas willing to talk but not concede anything as he does not have the power to.
    3. Israel not willing to give Jerusalem, move IDF from Judea/Samaria nor move any of the settlements or settlers. Abbas does not agree to any of this.

    4. If Abbas was willing to do an interim deal Bibi might give PA more rights in Area C for recognition of Settlements blocks.

    5. Talks might start but will bog down is the most likely scenario.

    6. A new war starts in Gaza and so PA will be forced withdraw from talks as it can be seen talking to Israelis while we kill Palestinians in Gaza during the war

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