US envoy: We trust Israel, but Palestinians in no position ‘to keep any bargain’

T. Belman. Friedman’s answers raised more questions.. Since Israel must maintain a freeze in the land designated for the statelet, how much land is included with the settlements that they can extend sovereignty over, for future construction. Is there enough to keep them busy for 4 years?

In my reading of the P2P after 4 years there is no longer a freeze or any other restriction but Friedman again muddies the water. He was asked “And what happens after the four years? Will Israel get a green light to apply sovereignty over the remaining parts of the West Bank?” and said:

‘Not necessarily’,

“At the end of four year years, if there is no progress and no basis to extend that period of time — and that would be an extension the parties themselves would have to agree to — then it would return to what it is today,” the ambassador said.

The areas Israel will not have annexed by then would continue to be administered by COGAT, the Defense Ministry unit currently in charge of implementing Israeli government policies in the West Bank, according to Friedman.

He begs the question of whether the US will support Israel’s “annexation” of the rest after the 4 years. Why did he not simply say “yes”? Instead he said “not necessarily”.

Why does Trump’s plan allow the Israelis to annex soon but have a Palestinian state only arise in four years? To ‘bridge the asymmetry’ between the two sides, David Friedman says

By RAPHAEL AHREN, TOI

The White House’s so-called deal of the century strongly favors Israel because it is a democracy that can be relied upon to uphold any agreement, whereas the Palestinians have a long way to go before they are trustworthy partners, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday.

Critics of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan often lament that it grants Israel the right to annex the parts of the West Bank that the proposal earmarks for Israel to retain, while the Palestinians would only get their state at the end of four years — and then, only if a long list of conditions have been meet.

If the plan is meant to eventually lead to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, why is one side allowed to take the spoils right away, while the other side has to wait four long years? The Times of Israel asked Friedman that question during a briefing Sunday at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

In his answer, the US envoy spoke of the need to bridge the “asymmetry” between the State of Israel, which is dependable, and what he described as the failed wannabe state that is the Palestinian Authority. He also argued that Jerusalem would have never have made the concessions it did upon accepting the plan’s outline — including agreeing not to build any settlements in the areas designated for a future Palestinian state — if it had not been granted the right to immediately annex the parts envisioned to be part of Israel.

“This is a completely asymmetric relationship,” Friedman said of Israelis and Palestinians. “Israel is a democracy. You can hold it to its word. It has an enormous relationship with the United States on multiple levels and that relationship is very solid. It is in a position today to keep its part of the bargain.”

By contrast, the Palestinians are currently “not in a position to keep any bargain,” Friedman said. “The Palestinians are not united. Their government is not democratic. Their institutions are weak. Their respect for all types of norms that we hold dear — not just democracy but human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of the press — is nonexistent.”

The White House felt the need to “bridge that asymmetry,” he went on. “If Israel is ready today, why shouldn’t they get what they’re agreeing to today? If the Palestinians are going to be ready in four years, well, then they can get what they can get in four years.”

The only way to entice Israel into agreeing to adopt the Trump plan and to freeze settlement building in the area earmarked for a future Palestine was to “provide them today with what they’re entitled to in exchange for that,” Friedman posited.

“I have no doubt that Israel would never agree to a naked freeze of four years just on the possibility that the Palestinians might a) be willing to negotiate and b) achieve the milestones [required of them by the plan]. We just couldn’t have gotten it,” he said.

The administration took great care to tell the Palestinians that they don’t have to say yes or no to the plan right away, Friedman said.

“We understand that you’re in a very difficult position — you’re not united, you have numerous streams of conflict that weaves around your body politic. So take your time, digest it, and you will not be penalized by the passage of time,” he said, addressing the Palestinian leadership.

“If it takes you three or four years to get there, the territory that is earmarked for you, the integrity of that territorial opportunity, will be preserved.”

Israel has never agreed to a four-year freeze of settlement construction, Friedman stressed. The only previous moratorium of settlement expansions — for 10 months — took place during the Obama administration and “was a waste of time,” he claimed, since it did not succeed in bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

For Israel to annex the part it will keep now in exchange for refraining from taking more of the territory reserved for Palestine is a formula that “seemed like a very fair trade — for us, for the Palestinians and for Israel,” Friedman said.

And what happens after the four years? Will Israel get a green light to apply sovereignty over the remaining parts of the West Bank?

Not necessarily, Friedman replied.

“At the end of four year years, if there is no progress and no basis to extend that period of time — and that would be an extension the parties themselves would have to agree to — then it would return to what it is today,” the ambassador said.

The areas Israel will not have annexed by then would continue to be administered by COGAT, the Defense Ministry unit currently in charge of implementing Israeli government policies in the West Bank, according to Friedman.

There is no specific event that would occur at the end of the four years that started on January 28, when the peace plan was unveiled at the White House, he said. “Hopefully there would be another initiative,” he added.

February 10, 2020 | 6 Comments » | 582 views

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. It goes without saying, that Israel can agree to anything it wants in 4 years. But what needs affirmation is whether the US will approve a total annexation at that time. This needs to be confirmed.

  2. Tamir Pardos, a former Mossad chief and a member of Commanders for Israel’s Security, wrote: in Haaretz:

    “And then, lo and behold, on January 28, 2020, an Israeli prime minister agreed to define the eastern border, to transfer 70 percent of the West Bank and 14 percent of sovereign Israeli territory to a future Palestinian state, and to making the West Bank and Gaza into a single political entity. History could remember Benjamin Netanyahu as the statesman that set a starting point for negotiations.

    “When the plan is brought to the cabinet for a vote, the ministers will be asked to accept it as a single unit, a package deal. They will be asked to swallow both “sticks” and “carrots,” and swallow them whole. On one hand, there will have to concede a majority of the “held” territory, to establish a Palestinian state with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and give up sovereign territory in the Negev, and more. On the other, their appetite will be wetted by the prospect of annexing the remaining territory, gaining sovereignty over most of Jerusalem, creating elaborate security arrangements and so on.

    “The part of the proposal that gives the Palestinians four years to negotiate is a fool’s trap laid out for the annexation devotees, so they’ll embrace the plan in the hope that the Palestinians will refuse. Israel could then exert its sovereignty over the entire West Bank and complete the process of transforming Jewish and democratic Israel into one state for two peoples. We’ll have plenty of territory then, but not much in the way of a Zionist national identity.

    Clearly, the left in Israel does not want “one state for two peoples”. They want separation form the arabs, not more land. The right wants all the land and will figure out what to do with the arabs later. But since when did the left worry about our “Zionist national identity”?

  3. On the same principle, the Left pushed for disengagement from Gaza. It wanted separation. It got it along with thousands of rockets. Now they want the same deal here, namely separation regardless of the potential security risk. They would rather have the rocket attacks than the land.

  4. Jack Englehard wrote in Arutz Sheva, a diatribe against creating a Palestinian terror state in our biblical heartland. He is very convincing.

    The corallary to his argument is that we are doing just fine now. We control all the land.

    But we are demonized for it and can’t build on it even under Trump. At least this deal breaks the log jam. We get 30% of the land and at least 85% of the settlements and the Jordan Valley. The poison pill that comes along with it is the potential of creating a Palestinian state in our biblical heartland.

    To my mind Israel should be able to kill this possibility by simply rejecting it for what ever reason. There are many hooks we could hang our hat on. Let’s say that we say “no” in 4 years and extend Israeli law to these lands. What can anyone do about it?

  5. Israel may NOT get a green light after 4 years for 50% of Area C that there is a moratorium on per the Trump Plan.

    Israel should go ahead now with the US -Israeli committee and apply sovereign on all the Settlements, Jordan Valley/Dead Sea that the US is willing to recognize after the mapping presentation by Israel and concurrence of the US.

    Then at a later date Israel should simply start building in the parts of area C that are not Nature Reserves or Military Bases. (if need be, waiting the full four (4) years. It is coming becoming clear already that the Pal leaders one and all have rejected the Trump Vision and will NOT change their minds.

    A Palestinian State can not be allowed to rise.

    Israel should just grab what land they can and what they need period. If the US does not recognize it now maybe they will in the future. Israel did not wait for applying to sovereignty to the Golan or Jerusalem but Israel asserted its rights. When Israel asserts its rights it becomes in fact Israel. These facts become accepted by others eventually.

  6. Did trump solve anything or just mudied the waters more? 4 years from now Trump and netenyuhoo will be yesterdays news. So it will all start again.

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