A first stage in the extension of Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria should focus on the Jordan Valley and areas in the Jerusalem envelope that are important for security reasons, such as Ma’ale Adumim and Gush Etzion. Applying Israeli law to these territories, which is a step beyond Israel’s current military control, is crucial. This move will launch implementation of the Trump plan and will convey—both domestically and abroad—Israel’s determination to retain territories that are important to its security and identity, with the support of the United States. The application of Israeli law in these areas would also remove from the agenda proposals for security arrangements in the territories that are of very questionable effectiveness.
Because the application of Israeli law is part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, Israel’s national unity government should accept the plan in its entirety, including the requirement to enter negotiations regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state in the future. The Trump plan is the most realistic route for progress towards the goal of “two states for two peoples,” in contradiction to earlier peace paradigms that were dictated by unrealistic Palestinian expectations, and which therefore led to dead ends.
Israeli policy ought to be grounded in a broad national consensus. Such a consensus exists with regard to the Jordan Valley as Israel’s eastern security border and with regard to the defense of Jerusalem. These were the positions held by Yigal Alon and Yitzhak Rabin of the Labor Party. A significant portion of the Israeli public is supportive of applying Israeli law to these areas while making territorial compromises elsewhere.
On this basis, Israel should assiduously make diplomatic efforts to diminish anticipated opposition to this Israeli move—first and foremost among U.S. Jews and Democrats, as well as in the international and even the Arab arena, which will help mitigate the expected angry Palestinian responses.
Required action by the Israeli government
• Legislation should be passed that applies Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, and to the areas of Ma’ale Adumim and Gush Etzion in the Jerusalem envelope.
• The government should declare that in the current circumstances it considers the Trump plan in its entirety to be the only way to reach an agreement regarding “two states for two peoples.”
• Certain measures, such as investment in infrastructure, should be taken to demonstrate to the Palestinians that there is a “diplomatic horizon” and concrete benefits in the Trump plan for them, should they be willing to move beyond their current refusals to engage in peacemaking.
• Israel should act assiduously and soon to explain its sovereignty declaration among many sectors in the United States, to garner understanding and support, even in circles that currently reject the idea, both among American Jewry and among friends of Israel within the Democratic Party.
• Israel should initiate discreet dialogue with Egypt and Jordan regarding the application of Israeli law and the advancement of the Trump plan. The ground must be prepared for a tough campaign in the European arena, including the enlisting of support from Israel’s strategic partners in the eastern Mediterranean and friends in central and eastern Europe. These diplomatic efforts should be accompanied by dialogue with the top political leadership of Europe as well as that of China, India, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Gulf states.
• Israel must prepare for the possibility of a Palestinian appeal to the United Nations Security Council, this time on the basis of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter on “Threats to Peace” (which enables sanctions against an “aggressor”), and act in time to neutralize this by seeking a veto from not only by the United States but also support from the United Kingdom and some of the non-permanent member states.
• From a security perspective, Israel also must prepare for the possibility of violent or “popular” uprisings sparked by the Palestinian Authority.
Professor Efraim Inbar is president, and Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, is vice president, of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (jiss.org.il).
This article is an executive summary of a policy paper available in Hebrew here and was first published by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. A complete English translation will be posted soon.