OpinionMiddle East

President Trump wades into the Israeli-Arab conflict

Peace is always a noble and critical goal, and President Donald Trump should be commended for tackling one of the most intransigent problems on earth.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan on Jan. 28, 2020. White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan on Jan. 28, 2020. White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
(Twitter)
Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

President Donald Trump has brought God back into America. He has brought honor and glory back to our Armed Forces. He has not been given the credit he deserves. Indeed, he has weathered attacks the likes of which the world has seldom seen.

Even some on the other side of the aisle, however, would admit that even if they can’t tolerate his character or personality, Trump is a born leader. His leadership has actually brought a semblance of order to the world. The fact that the Gulf States showed up (or wrote letters of support) to the White House for the unveiling last week of Trump’s Mideast peace plan speaks volumes.

There is fear and loathing in Iran these days—a step in the right direction. There is now real hope that the Iranian threat will actually be dealt with, one way or another. This was not the case under either President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama. Iran remains the number one threat to civilization, but President Trump’s approach has been working.

North Korea is the second greatest problem facing the world today, and Trump has made inroads here, too. He has a long way to go, but at least some progress has been made.
I feel safer today than at any time under President Obama, and I believe most Americans feel the same way.

This all brings me to Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

There is no doubt that a tremendous amount of work and thought went into this very detailed framework for peace. The president should be commended for tackling one of the most intransigent problems on earth. He has waded into one of the thorniest, most complex and mine-laden issues that one can imagine. And his realistic approach will ultimately be the one that works.

The fact that the Palestinian Authority rejected the Trump plan outright highlights the fact that Israel really does not have a peace partner—something I’ve been saying since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993. President Bill Clinton said that Yasser Arafat had made him a “colossal failure.” Arafat was not a true partner for peace, nor is his successor P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was a true peace partner—when he asked for peace, he meant it. This has not been the case with Arafat or Abbas.

Since the Oslo Accords were signed, Israel has made concession after concession for peace. Over 40 percent of Israel’s God-given land was surrendered on the altar of peace. Peace has yet to be achieved. If anything, there has been more terrorism, with thousands of Jews being killed since the Oslo Accords were signed. The Trump plan attempts to end, once and for all, the P.A. “pay for slay” policy of paying salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and to the families of terrorists that died attempting to murder Israelis. Unfortunately the very week of the peace announcement it was determined that the P.A. pays $150 million to terrorists’ families. This is not peace.

Given this background, it is very difficult to understand how the P.A. can be offered statehood with a capital in Jerusalem as part of any agreement. I realize that under the Trump plan the P.A. will have to fulfill many benchmarks before this could happen, but the idea of a two-state solution fell by the wayside following the P.A. intifada of 2000, and for people like me, use of the two-state narrative opens up many old wounds. It also sets an untenable precedent for the future. The president himself veered away from using this terminology until this past week.

If the end result of this whole exercise is the recognition of Israeli sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, I will feel loads better—but I am concerned about “terminology.”

I have full confidence in President Trump, but am concerned about what might happen under future presidents, who may decide not to enforce all the Trump plan’s requirements on the P.A., while at the same time sticking to the two-state principle it endorses.

Peace is always a noble and critical goal, and the president’s heart is in the right place. He continues to advance civilization on a daily basis. When the P.A. finally wants peace, they will know who to call. So far, the phone has not been ringing off the hook.

Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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