(February 20, 2020 / JNS) Nearly all of us yearn for peace in the Middle East, but we disagree as to how it is best achieved.
Many insist peace is best achieved through negotiations and dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships.
However, generations of Palestinian leaders have made no overtures, while their pattern of encouraging violence after rejecting each of Israel’s peace offers inspires little confidence. As the violence compels Israel to enhance security in ways that necessarily and demonstrably complicate Palestinian life, the long-standing, Arab League-initiated anti-normalization boycott and propaganda cartel applies impressive and intense diplomatic pressure against Israel.
The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan introduces a better way. Instead of waiting for peace, the plan takes proactive measures to address the misalignment between the ambitions of the Palestinian leadership and the needs of the Palestinian people. Along with creating hefty economic incentives to align Israeli, Palestinian and regional humanitarian interests, the plan humanely resolves contentious, cartel-generated externalities like the “right of return” and levies diplomatic pressure against the Palestinians to counter that applied through global channels against Israel. This counterweight comes in the form of a temporary settlement freeze that expires before the end of the next presidential term, if peace is not achieved.
So, with Israel ostensibly committing to hold open for four years an offer to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all Israelis, Palestinians and Americans should put aside their political inclinations and invest their time and intelligence to familiarize themselves with the details of the proposals and brush up on the historical obstacles to peace. They should also listen to and consider any proposed alternatives that might emerge.
Notably, numerous representatives of Arab countries joined Israel at the White House rollout of the peace plan, even though the Palestinians had already boycotted the event and rejected the proposals “a thousand times” out of hand. With growing calls for irreconcilable one-state solutions from both sides, the Trump administration sought to advance what it knew Israel would quickly bless, and what regional peers, incentives and diplomatic pressure would eventually motivate Palestinian leadership to discuss, with a vision towards creating a secure and prosperous Middle East for all.
The overture was swiftly rejected not only by the Palestinians but also by more than 100 Democratic members of the House of Representatives, who in a letter effectively threatened to withdraw support for Israel.
Expressing deep concern that the proposal was developed “without consulting Palestinians and that no Palestinian leadership could plausibly accept” its terms, the signatories put all of their faith in a non-state regime that has caused the death and injury of many American citizens. Meanwhile, with the party having enjoyed Jewish Americans’ unwavering and intensely vocal support for over a century, the signing Democrats showed no confidence that Jewish Israelis of shared history, values and acumen would have the incentive, desire and ability to peacefully collaborate with Israel’s closest neighbors for the benefit of all.
Much of the phrasing that the Democratic representatives use in the letter either intentionally or ignorantly adopted the work product resulting from the anti-normalization boycott and propaganda cartel, which was launched by the Arab League in the 1940s and extended to the United Nations in the 1970s, always geared towards pressuring the Jewish state into non-existence.
Trump has been the first president to consistently acknowledge and look beyond numerous manifestations of this propaganda and stand by what is known by most Jewish people to be right. At the same time, Trump has shown ability to simultaneously engage leaders of key Arab states and Israel on working together with the United States to undo the damage collectively caused.
Trump’s plan incentivizes a military and economic alliance between Israel and Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman and others through a $50 billion endowment, an amount larger than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Through a groundswell of support among Arab leaders, the plan aims to help relieve the pressures that burden Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab people alike and unnecessarily complicate the path to peace.
Among those pressures is the Palestinian “right of return,” one of the many absolute deal-breakers asserted by the Palestinian negotiators as a universal and reasonable human right afforded to all Earth’s inhabitants. But in fact, it is a diplomatic exception to the rule that has only produced inhumane results for all people affected.
Creating this right at the United Nations has been one of the Arab League cartel’s most effective pressure tactics in that it has made their non-recognition of Israeli statehood seem excusable to many. Palestinian claims are based upon the U.N.-adopted definition of Palestinian refugees, which uniquely includes any person who descends from Arab men that left the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine between June 1, 1946 and May 14, 1948.
The 1940s were a tough time for many across the Eastern Hemisphere, so why does no other self-determination movement arise from something so arbitrary as a two-year migration pattern?
Consider the question of where the Palestinian refugees who return will settle.
If within Israel, what protects her Jewish democracy? The Arab League cartel’s long-standing objections to the very existence of Israel prompted the effort to flood the region with Arabs and prevent the very existence of Israel as a Jewish-majority state.
If within Palestine, in what ways do the Palestinians benefit and how does that compare to how they are harmed?
Continuing to maintain the Arab Palestinians’ refugee status seems to condemn them to a perpetual existence without dignity and in economic squalor where they are indoctrinated with hate from a very young age, and are then incentivized to murder innocent men, women and children.
The Palestinian refugees that wish to live in other countries will remain in refugee camps held separate from the rest of the population and limited in what professions they may pursue. Meanwhile, the Palestinians who live on the West Bank of the Jordan River, or in Gaza, instead of being lifted from poverty would have to contend with millions of other impoverished Arabs flooding their limited borders.
At the expense of perhaps sounding patronizing, a plan that focuses on what the Palestinians need instead of what they think they want serves their best interests and the interest of peace.
Instead of waiting for Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate between bad outcomes, the Peace to Prosperity plan does away with the so-called right and instead creates various funding structures to help Palestinian refugee families living in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria achieve citizenship where they reside.
It is axiomatic that any infusion of capital and enhanced access to property rights will immediately improve an individual’s quality of life. Similarly, the Palestinian Arabs residing in Gaza, Judea and Samaria would avoid the added pressure that a mass influx of impoverished Arabs would otherwise impose on their local economies.
Palestine of course will be free to maintain records and reassess its immigration policy once stable.
As eliminating the inefficiency of the Palestinian refugee exception also secures the Jewish state, this seemly “pro-Israel” aspect of the plan ultimately does no harm to any side while improving conditions on all sides and optimizing the prospects of a true and lasting peace.
The more Israelis, Arab nationals and Americans unify around the Peace to Prosperity framework, the more it assures that whoever signs such an agreement to bring peace, statehood and prosperity to and on behalf of the Palestinians will be enshrined in Palestinian history.
Civilization has not come as far as it has by believing that the shortcomings of today are doomed to endure.
If we believe that peace and prosperity for the Muslim, Christian and Jewish people of the Middle East is important, and we do, it is incumbent upon all of us to read the “Peace to Prosperity” plan, listen to any alternatives proposed by other candidates and think long and hard about the civilization we want to create for our children and future generations.
The long-delayed path to peace has endured many obstacles, taken lives and cost opportunities for both Israelis and the Arab-Palestinians. Upon us is a moment of change. It needs leaders from all walks of life to think creatively, to act boldly and to help chart a path for a better future.
Joseph Tipograph is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.
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