Deal of the Century cements Israel’s victory in its war with the Arabs. Will Israelis come together to make the most of it?
The most important thing to understand about president Trump’s proposal is that it is the first proposal that recognizes the irrefutable reality that Jews, Zionism, and Israel are the undisputed victors in their centennial struggle against the Arabs. Jews won, decisively, in every arena: military, political, technological, and economic. They won not only against the so-called “Palestinians”, but against all Arabs and, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say, against all Muslims.
Israel is more militarily, technologically, and economically powerful than any Muslim country.
In its very essence, Trump’s plan recognizes the twin realities of Israel’s victory and the Muslims’ defeat, which is why it actually has a chance to succeed.
What are the key elements of this recognition? First and foremost, Trump’s plan completely erases the so-called “Green Line”, the line of armistice at the end of Israel’s War of Independence in 1949 and makes all the talk of “withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders” utterly irrelevant. The many UN resolutions calling for Israel’s “withdrawal” to these borders have just been defacto nullfied.
This aspect of the plan is explicit in its assertion that “no Jew or Arab in Judea and Samaria will have to leave their homes”. The consequence of this is that Palestinians lost the so-called “C” territories of Oslo agreement fame; lands on which there are Jewish towns and villages. The lands that are available for the future Palestinian “state” have been shrunk exclusively to areas “A” (areas densely populated by Arabs) and “B” (areas that are sparsely populated by Arabs).
In response to this part of the plan, PM Netanyahu immediately announced that Israel will annex the Jordan Valley and extend full Israeli jurisdiction to all Jews living in Judea and Samaria. This is not a formality. Currently, Jews living in Judea and Samaria are subject to the military occupation authorities rather than Israeli law, which means that they can be forced out of their homes with nothing more than a general”s signature on an evacuation order. Once they become subject to Israeli law, removing them from their homes will become next to impossible. What this means is that Israel has just gained major real estate that will never again be subject to dispute.
The Palestinians now have four years in which to accept their defeat and agree to a limited autonomy that will be called a “state”. This agreement would entail them abandoning any armed action against Israel whether from Judea and Samaria or from Gaza and accepting that no Palestinian, no Arab, currently residing outside of these territories will be allowed to return as a “refugee” or in any other manner. There will be no “right of return” for Palestinians.
The plan does not make this explicit, but reality dictates that should the Palestinians fail to wisely use the four years allotted to them and establish a demilitarized autonomy nominally recognized as a state, Israel will be released from its commitment to halt the expansion of its settlement activities in Judea and Samaria, a commitment that PM Netanyahu has just accepted. What this could mean is that Arabs will continue to lose territory and will eventually be squeezed out of the entire Judea and Samaria (or West Bank) territory.
As to the status of Jerusalem, the plan has an internal contradiction. It declares the entire city as the “undivided capital of Israel”, while at the same time specifying that the future Palestinian state will have its capital in “eastern Jerusalem”. Jerusalem has many eastern suburbs, such as Abu Dis, that are entirely populated by Arabs and while contiguous to the rest of the city, are not included in it. Renaming such a suburb “Jerusalem”, solves the apparent contradiction.
There already is major political fallout to this plan and its rollout in Israel. Mr. Gantz, the head of the opposition Blue and White party decided not to stay for the rollout in the White House, hastening instead to be a part of a political side show in the Knesset; the stripping of Mr. Netanyahu of his parliamentary immunity. Mr. Netanyahu, having ascertained that Mr. Gantz was already “wheels up”, made it known that he was forswearing his immunity, making Mr. Gantz look like a fool and giving up nothing in return, since the negative (from his perspective) outcome of the Knesset vote was not in doubt.
Not wasting a moment’s time, Israeli AG Mandelblit submitted the indictments against Mr. Netanyahu to the Jerusalem District Court, giving his opponents the coveted “State of Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu” headline.
Upon his return to Israel, Mr. Netanyahu will doubtlessly present to a vote in the Knesset the resolution to annex the Jordan Valley and extend Israeli law to all Jews living in Judea and Samaria. As these measures enjoy wide popular support, opposing them, even on the grounds that such decisions are best left till after the March 2nd election, will carry a heavy political price for Mr. Netanyahu’s political enemies.
As to the Palestinians, staging significant attacks against Israel will very likely be met with overwhelming force and solidify Israeli voter support for the right-center bloc headed by Mr. Netanyahu. The presence of the ambassadors of three Sunni Gulf states; Bahrein, Kuwait, and the United Emirates at the unveiling of the plan in the White House sends a clear message to the Palestinians and their masters in Tehran that president Trump’s action has the tacit approval of the key Sunni players in the region, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
President Trump has presented Israelis with a once in a century opportunity to solidify their hard-fought victory, a victory for which over twenty-five thousand Jews have given their lives and many more were wounded over the course of more than a hundred years. Will Israelis overcome their petty internal squabbles and take advantage of this opportunity? Only time will tell.