Mere weeks before the timeframe set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to beginning implementing part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan, concerns are mounting within the Israeli right-wing camp.
“We can’t accept the Trump plan as is,” said Likud member of Knesset Gideon Sa’ar. “I don’t accept a Palestinian state or the handing over of territory. I don’t accept isolated communities in the heart of [Judea and Samaria], or the fact that most of Judea and Samaria will be in Palestinian hands.”
Derech Eretz MK Zvika Hauser expressed similar misgivings, saying, “When a plan ends with the creation of a Palestinian state, I think this is a misleading component that doesn’t comply with the reality.”
“If the plan’s outcome is a terror state in Judea and Samaria, and will encompass isolated communities and include an [Israeli] construction freeze, then we are prepared to forego sovereignty,” said David Elhayani, chairman of the Yesha Council, the umbrella body of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (and formerly of the Gaza Strip).
Indeed, the American administration’s peace plan is not perfect. Theoretical as it may be, the possibility of a Palestinian state in the heart of the land of Israel, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, is a tough pill to swallow. Coupled with a settlement freeze, even one limited to four years, and the sense among some is that which Netanyahu referred to his his 1993 book, A Place Among the Nations, as “convenient code-speak” not for peace, but for something that “really means ‘eradicate.’ ”
Scuh ideological fastidiousness is misplaced, however. Israel needs to adopt the Trump plan, because right now it exacts no price from the Jewish state.
As U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Israel Hayom, the Israeli government is not obligated at this time to adopt the plan in its entirety. From the perspective of the Americans, Netanyahu’s agreement to begin talks with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan is sufficient in the meantime, and there will be room for improvement and adjustments later on. Until then, aside from a construction freeze, the plan’s deficiencies are strictly theoretical.
Hence, the fundamental question is whether Israel will be in a better situation with the plan or without it. The answer is that the plan’s three basic components–total Israeli security supremacy, unrealistic preconditions for the establishment of a Palestinian state and immediate Israeli sovereignty over one-third of the territory–will give Israel a good starting position for any future scenarios.
And what are these scenarios? In six months, Trump could lose the presidential election. He could be replaced by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who has clashed with Israel in the past over its plan to build homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, and has already voiced his opposition to the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
If Biden does become the next U.S. president, wouldn’t it be better to confront him with one-third of the territory already in our hands? Wouldn’t it be better to be armed with the tangible conditions of the Trump plan, when he demands the creation of a Palestinian state?
Yes, Biden could rescind Trump’s promises, and yet a modicum of governmental continuity between administrations still exists. Issuing harsh dictates to Israel is one thing. Reneging on vows made by predecessors is quite another, and even a rigid Democratic administration would think long and hard before doing that.
The other possibility is a Trump victory. In this scenario, the Palestinians likely will continue to boycott both the White House and Israel. In the meantime, after the four-year waiting period stipulated by the plan, and toward the end of Trump’s second term, Israel will be able to ask to expand its sovereignty in Judea and Samaria beyond the 30 percent currently offered. Shouldn’t this scenario also be taken into account?
To be sure, the glass is not completely full. That’s always the case in life. However, just as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, established the Jewish state in spite of the exceedingly unfavorable United Nations partition plan, it is now incumbent on us to grab history by the horns and apply sovereignty wherever we can in Judea and Samaria.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.