WaPo: Trump’s peace plan won’t have a chance unless Israel shows restraint on annexation

T. Belman. Yesterday, Israel was estatic believing they could start annexing immediately. Today, the US walked back its green light. What happened overnight. Do Ross and Makovsky have it right?

By Dennis Ross and David Makovsky, WaPo

Israeli security forces during a protest against President Trump's Middle East peace plan in Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Israeli security forces during a protest against President Trump’s Middle East peace plan in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Jan. 29, 2020 at 11:16 p.m. GMT+2

The Trump administration has now unveiled its Mideast peace plan. While we should expect plenty of debate about its terms, which represent a sharp departure from past U.S. peacemaking efforts, another development has essentially pushed the plan into the background. Israeli officials have announced that they plan to annex all West Bank settlements next week. If they do, this new phase of the process will be dead before it really starts.

The peace plan was supposed to take the interests of both sides into account. But the annexation move essentially makes any agreement superfluous, since Israel is already helping itself to the rewards that it’s supposed to gain from future negotiations over the plan. Any benefits for the Palestinians are left for the four-year period ahead designated by the Trump administration when both sides are to consider the plan. Israel has complained in the past that it is yielding tangible territorial assets for the intangible promise of peace. Now, Israel would be adding land immediately while the Palestinian land would be conditional on other benchmarks. The sudden urgency of the annexation plans seems designed to unite Israel’s right on the eve of an election, which might otherwise fracture the prospects of ceding territory to the Palestinians.

The annexation plans also have the effect of alienating the Arab states, who initially reacted to the new peace plan without their usual stance of lining up behind the official Palestinian position. This reflects a recent seismic shift that has taken place in Arab attitudes about Israel. Many of the region’s leaders now believe that, if the United States retreats from the Mideast, Israel is not only a necessary bulwark against the threats Arab states face but also a potentially useful ally. Unfortunately, the willingness of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push annexation for his near-term political benefit could damage the emerging alignment between Israel and the Arab states. Arab leaders certainly won’t want to look as though they are even indirectly helping Israel take what they consider to be Palestinian territory.

Consider the irony: Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has so far been unable on his own to mobilize the Arabs behind his campaign of rejection. On the contrary, their initial responses have been low-key, emphasizing not comments on the plan but calls for direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. And some have even complimented the administration for making a positive contribution. But Netanyahu pushing annexation immediately, perhaps as soon as next week, will rescue Abbas, possibly forcing Arab leaders to respond to Israel’s unilateral moves and make the Abbas campaign of rejection a reality. Once they, too, go on record rejecting the Trump plan, we should expect Abbas to take his case to the U.N. Security Council, hoping to provoke a U.S. veto to show how isolated the United States and Israel are.

If there is to be any hope for the Trump plan — even in a modified form that would result from any direct negotiations between the parties — President Trump should use his good relationship with Netanyahu to tell him that he opposes any move to annex the territories now. Trump can stress that his aim is to create the possibility of a negotiation, not to preempt it. He has already stated that he expected an initial Palestinian rejection but was buying time so that Palestinians could reflect and see what could be gained by negotiating. How is there any such time if the Israelis move to annex now?

Moreover, think of the effect on Jordan if an annexation of the Jordan Valley goes ahead now. Did the president intend his plan to endanger Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan, the country with which Israel shares its longest border?

If Trump does not want his plan to be stillborn, and if the Israelis hope to salvage its most important parts (especially on security), it is essential that the Israelis postpone their annexation of the territories designated for them in the plan. The last thing that both the administration and the Israelis should want is to drive Arab leaders into adopting Abbas’s uncompromising posture.

Undifferentiated annexation of settlements will inevitably undermine Israel’s ability to separate from the Palestinians, making a one-state outcome more likely. By adding 62 settlements currently to the east of Israel’s security barrier, the plan makes separation into two entities more difficult, especially because these settlements are outside the blocs and the security barrier and will effectively shrink the size of the later Palestinian state. (Seventy-seven percent of the Israeli settlers live in the blocs.) Altogether, under the peace plan, Israel would be annexing as much as 40 percent of the West Bank.

Israel does not have an interest in having the Palestinians give up on their dream of statehood and aspiring instead to becoming voting citizens of Israel. This would undermine the Zionist rationale for Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Trump knows annexation can doom his prospects, and he should urge Israel to demonstrate restraint so the plan has a chance.

Dennis Ross, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, is the counselor and William Davidson distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute. David Makovsky, a former senior adviser on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the Office of the Secretary of State, is director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They are the co-authors of “Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny.”

January 30, 2020 | 12 Comments » | 946 views

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12 Comments / 12 Comments

  1. Written by 2 pro sodomite supporters. Paragraph 2 what sodomite land?
    Nutunyahoo was talking annexation of jordan valley prior to trumps mess.

  2. Don’t forget that Dennis Ross has been a consistent loser despite all his experience because he never understood the nature of the conflict. For a hundred years, the Palestinian Arabs have refused to recognize the right of the Jews to a homeland in any territory of the British Palestine Mandate. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Palestinian Arabs, supported by the entire Moslem world, have refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state in any borders. Nothing has changed. We are dealing with an Islamic war on the Jews, and no Moslem leader can agree to make peace with the Jews without flagrantly violating the sacred commands of his god and his prophet. Good luck with that. THEREFORE, all peace plans are doomed to failure.

  3. Many parties are for sovereignty now portion (all the right/religious plus Yisrael Betenyu) everyone is NOT for the whole plan.

    Trump gave the verbal okay for Israel to apply sovereignty in the very near term conditional on Bibi’s word that the WHOLE PLAN would be approved by the Knesset.

    Will this potentially throw a monkey wrench into the plan. My guess is Blue/White/Likud/Shas/UTJ MKs will approve the plan but NOT Yamina, Joint List, or Labor Union (whatever they are called now).

    So I guess it will pass.

    Gantz to present the full Trump peace plan for Knesset approval
    Jan 30, 2020 @ 10:54

    The Blue-White leader Benny Gantz has announced that he will next week present the Trump peace plan in full to the Knesset for approval. “The plan faithfully reflects the basic principles written in the Kahol-Lavan platform,” he said. “This is a historic opportunity to shape Israel’s borders and future.” Likud spokesman accused Gantz of “hitching a ride on the tremendous achievements of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who co-authored the Trump plan in years of hard work. This is a joke.”


  4. Annexation means an end to military rule (military rule by fiat) and adoption of civil law (adversarial disputation). Those who oppose are against normalization in the name of refuting the identity of those in governance. Facts on the ground already dictated that. Besides, not many Arabs actually live in the Jordan Valley, no one does. It’s devoid of the forest of palms that Moses once saw and recorded by Pliny the Elder because the Arabs cut them all down to avoid paying Ottoman taxes.
    You can’t both complain of Israeli military occupation, not live there in the JV, and oppose civilian rule for the Jews who do live in the WB enclaves.
    These arguments just prove that goyim will argue that Jews can do no ‘right’. That alone justifies ignoring them all and do what’s in Israel’s best interest regardless of the noise and clamor.
    Ross is another one of those failed diplomats Kushner spoke of on TV 2 nights ago.

  5. @ Bear Klein:
    Fisrt Israel must decide to approve the extension of sovereignty now rather than wait for the nexdt government. I say sovereignty now over all the land given by the map.

    Secondly there is no problem to approve of the whole plan. Our only commitment is to hold it in trust for 4 years. We have no commitment be flexible. Therfe is no way the Arabs will comply with everything demanded. Even if they do, they won’t accept the plan unless amended. Israel can simply refuse to amend anything. Israel can also refuse to negotiate until all conditions will be implied with..

    To sort this out will take years Israel cqan simply run out the clock qas they BUILD.

    After 4 years of building, it will be irreversible.

  6. @ Carl A Goldberg3:
    Very well put. Had Israel waited for the agreement and blessing of the ‘Palestinians’ and wider Muslim world, the state would never have been declared – and the few Jewish survivors would still be living in ma’abarot. In fact, the same can be said for the U.S. State Department, the British Foreign Office and many other of our so-called ‘friends’.

  7. Long ago, Makovsky made it appear as though he was actually pro Israel, kind of the way Olmert was during The Begin Years.
    Both of them are charlatans and Dr. Ross should have his dog food and eat it too, because, as you may recall, “It is dog gone good”.
    These old dogs need to be gone….FOR GOOD.

  8. @ Ted Belman:
    You said,

    Fisrt Israel must decide to approve the extension of sovereignty now rather than wait for the nexdt government. I say sovereignty now over all the land given by the map.

    Secondly there is no problem to approve of the whole plan. Our only commitment is to hold it in trust for 4 years.

    Ted, I agree with you, since the Pals would have to turn into peaceful Jew accepting willing permanent neighbors who gave up the dream of destroy Israel to implement and accept the plan, I was analyzing how the political parties would vote if the plan gets put up for a vote now.

    You do need precise maps so that there are not later arguments. The Trump Map is vague (1/100,000 scale) and not detailed in particular on areas needed for security beyond the settlements and the Jordan Valley is very imprecise.

  9. The Two Oslo Clowns who wrote this article NEVER learned the nature of the Pal-Arabs and why no plan short of Israelis saying they are all moving to a Tropical Island is anything they would agree to. They have NOT been willing to negotiate for years now. It mattered not the plan. They dream of destroying Israel and not making peace with it.

    Mahmoud Habbash, advisor to PA chairman, says anyone who accepts Trump’s deal will pay the price for that treason.

    So any Pal-Arab who is willing to negotiate peace is under a death threat. This is not a singular threat, the Fatah have done the same via Facebook. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah are untied now in opposition to the plan and how to destroy it.

    Also allied against the plan is the Israeli political party the “Arab Joint List”. They have now said since Gantz endorses Trump’s Plan they could no longer recommend him for Prime Minister in the next elections.

    This means the Center and Left will be limited to:
    Blue/White + Labor/Meretz Union ~43 Seats
    Right/Religious: Likud/UTJ/Shas/Yamina ~57
    Yisrael Betenu ~7
    Arab Joint List ~13

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