The Israeli-Palestinian Impasse After Trump
How Netanyahu needs to emulate Trump in Israel.
Soon after the end of the June 1967 Six Day War, Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban met in New York with U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Eban was asked about Israel’s thinking on a future political settlement following her extraordinary military victory and territorial conquests. He responded that the Israeli government had decided on June 19 that in exchange for peace agreements, Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria, while considering granting autonomy to the Arab population in the West Bank. Rusk, Eban later recorded in his autobiography, could hardly believe what he was saying and responded that “he did not know of any case in modern history where a country, which had been attacked and emerged victorious, put forward such daring proposals so soon after.” President Johnson considered that Israel’s position was “constructive;” while Gideon Rafael, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, later wrote that the Secretary of State was impressed by Israeli “moderation.”
When Donald Trump will meet with Binyamin Netanyahu, it is reasonable to assume that the President will ask the Israeli Prime Minister - fifty years after the Rusk-Eban exchange - how he envisions a political resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians.
After the liberation of Judea and Samaria from Jordanian rule, political controversy engulfed the Israelis into interminable division. Historically, the political Center-Left was not always, as it later evolved, opposed to Jewish settlement and Israeli territorial retention.
In May 1973 Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan said in a BBC TV interview: “Israel should remain for eternity and until the end of time in the West Bank…if Palestinians didn’t like this, they could go and establish themselves in an Arab country.” Prime Minister Golda Meir was decisive in her autobiography: ”Obviously, no Israeli government could ever obligate itself to a permanent banning of Jews from any part of the Holy Land.”
Since the dramatic Likud victory in 1977, Israel’s political Left has withered. Their last and distant election victory was in 1999, having cast aside principles endorsed by Dayan and Meir and which later became the hallmark of patriotism and realism for Begin, Shamir, and Netanyahu.
In February 1945, toward the end of the Second World War, President Roosevelt assured King Abdul Aziz al-Saud “that he would do nothing to assist the Jews against the Arabs and would make no move hostile to the Arab people.” In 2017 President Trump can assure Prime Minister Netanyahu that he would do nothing to assist the Arabs against the Jews and would make no move hostile to the Israeli people.
This policy position will clear the political slate by burying the delusional Oslo Accords which failed to elicit mutual trust and reconciliation, cancelling the phony peace process which is all one-sided for the Palestinians, and invalidating the two-state solution whose complexity far surpasses its simple appellation. The Palestinians refuse to recognize the Jewish state, claiming all of Palestine for themselves.
Let us be clear on what we know about sociology, religion, and politics in Palestinian culture. A Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria would bear the defective features of harrowing clan tribalism, Islamic fanaticism, and simmering violence. This rogue and irredentist state would be a disaster for both its Arab residents, and for Israel.
There will likely be a dramatic shift in American Middle East foreign policy free of Oriental enthusiasms, abstract paradigms of a new regional order, and State Department ‘Arabists’ who consider Zionism the root cause of the conflict. Donald Trump’s hard-nosed political realism and sympathetic attitude toward Israel will at long last set the record straight. His pre-election statements point to a fundamental change which acknowledges that Israel alone decides on its national interests, based on sacred values, geo-strategic environment, and accumulated experience.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump declared to a large and enthusiastic AIPAC audience on March 21, 2016: ‘the days of treating Israel as a second-class citizen will end on day one’ [following his inauguration].
Six components shape a political solution for the intractable conflict in the Land. Let us transcend sloganeering – like “territories for peace” - and scale the high ground for a new, radical, and sensible approach. With the encouragement and resources of Washington, a new Israeli plan may actually work.
Here is the six-point plan:
A/1: Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is the national and civilian expression of a biblical promise to the patriarch Abraham – the Land of Israel belongs to the ancient Jewish people.
A/2: Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is the only political condition that can provide the country with minimum strategic depth and topographical command, securing itself from military and security threats and perils.
B/1: Arab autonomy – but not a Palestinian state - in Judea and Samaria is the maximum concession that Israel can offer without endangering its safety.
B/2: Arab migration eastward to Jordan should be encouraged and financed in shaping new demographic and political realities in the spirit of the formula: the Palestinians east of the Jordan River and only Israel west of the river.
C/1: UNRWA, an international trough supplying resources for Palestinian terrorism and hateful propaganda against Israel, having routinized Palestinians’ dependency and subservience as wards of global exploitation must be shut down by America cancelling its financial support.
C/2: Palestinian refugees from 1948 – few of whom are still alive and whose progeny incongruously fills the refugee rolls - should be freed from their collective humiliation and squalor, as in Lebanon, through resettlement in Jordan, Iraq, South America, West Africa, and elsewhere.
The broad ramifications of this ABC plan will redraw the political and demographic map; out of the box, we can finally think again.
Trump launched a paradigm shift in America; can Netanyahu, with Trump’s support, launch his in Israel?
Donald Trump challenged, ridiculed, and vilified, the icons of Political Correctness: regarding the environment, government, globalization, trade, Islam, race and immigration.
Binyamin Netanyahu has made some inroads but should now demolish Political Correctness in Israel, declaring: that the Israelis are the people of the land and not occupiers; that the Palestinians are aggressors and not victims; that Jewish settlement resonates with the rapturous music of homecoming and is not land-thievery nor an obstacle to peace; that the Palestinians are the majority in Jordan and not stateless; that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria would be a base for insurrection and warfare, not a formula for peace; that the Arabs in Israel enjoy liberty and education, and are not suffering discrimination; that a Middle East peace conference is a wanton design for an imposed solution, not a venue for rapprochement; that Israel should not foolishly take ‘risks for peace’ – what an oxymoronic buzz phrase! – but only control its grand and fragile destiny, on the ground, in its hands.
The march of political folly must end. The unfolding circumstances can now sustain a historic paradigm shift on the century-old conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land.