The Trump Challenge - a peace process that works

A new peace plan, called Peace for Peace.

David Rubin

OpEds Trump and Netanyahu
Trump and Netanyahu
David Rubin

President Donald Trump’s press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the occasion of the Israeli PM's visit was a wonderful show of camaraderie and hope for the Israel-USA relationship.

But what has really changed other than the good vibes?

The most noteworthy and positive statement was Trump’s comment that the two-state solution might not be the way to go forward. This creates an opportunity for those who have ideas for an alternative peace process that may include Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (the so-called 'West Bank').

To the most recent American administrations, the land for peace formula, or the two-state solution, was considered sacrosanct. Under this recipe for peace, Israel was expected to eventually vacate all or most of Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem to create a Palestinian Arab state. It has long been the mantra of the primary peace process promoters that Israel, a country roughly resembling in size the small state of New Jersey, would need to surrender its ancestral areas to bring the elusive peace that it has always sought, even long before its reestablishment as a sovereign nation in 1948.

However, after over thirty years of Middle East peace summits and conferences, with millions of dollars wasted on these efforts, resulting in over 1,600 Israeli lives lost in terrorist attacks just in the past twenty years, with thousands of others wounded, perhaps its time to try something new?

The Trump comment in answer to a reporter’s question about the two-state solution sent a clear signal that new, creative ideas are welcomed. We are now in a new situation in which alternatives that include Israeli sovereignty may have an ear in Washington. The concern of many is that Israeli sovereignty that includes granting automatic citizenship to all residents denotes demographic disaster for Israel.

Toward this end, I have proposed a new peace plan, which is called Peace for Peace, which does away with the failed land for peace formula and the hopelessly stalled negotiations and offers a unilateral path to peace between Israel and the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria. Peace for Peace, if adopted by Israel’s political leadership, would change the rules of the game and stop unrealistically arousing the appetite of those who currently call themselves Palestinians. The approval of the Palestinian Authority, which has caused so much terrorism through its financing and incitement, would not be required, but the plan would, indeed, provide a better future for the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria.

At its core are four key principles:

1. The entire land of Israel is the eternal sovereign inheritance of the Jewish people and Israeli sovereignty will be declared within the borders in Israel’s possession, which at this time consists of the territory from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

2. Israel extends its hand in unconditional peace and cooperation, peace for peace, to all of its Arab neighbors, including those Arabs who live within its borders in Judea and Samaria.

3. A path to loyal citizenship in the State of Israel will be offered for all non-citizens of Israel currently living within its borders, including Judea and Samaria. Such a path will include an extensive two-year course in Zionism, Jewish history, Bible, and civics, culminating in a required oath of loyalty to the Jewish State of Israel, and followed by a 2-3 year commitment of national service to Israel, as performed by other citizens.

A path to loyal citizenship in the State of Israel will be offered for all non-citizens of Israel currently living within its borders, including Judea and Samaria.
4. Those residents who refuse this path to citizenship will be offered a stipend to be resettled in one of the neighboring countries. The option of subsidized transfer will be on the table for one year. After that point, only a small number of non-citizens will be allowed to remain, based on Israel’s needs. The others will be deported. No rational, sovereign country would allow the continued residence of those who openly wish its destruction.

As has been revealed in recent demographic studies, Israel need not fear such a scenario. Given Israel’s experience in eastern Jerusalem, many of the Arab residents would reject the offer and Israel would nonetheless be putting an end to the nagging “apartheid state” accusations without imperiling Israel’s demographic future. The demographic delusions of some Knesset members, who incessantly harp on the demographic threat to Israel that would be caused by a declaration of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, need not be heeded. As reported extensively by demographic researchers, such as Yoram Ettinger, Israel’s growth in Judea and Samaria is now outpacing the Arab growth. In fact, it is the only part of the world in which the demographic struggle opposite the Muslim world is being won.

While it is true that automatic citizenship for all, including unrepentant haters of Israel, could be suicidal, the conditional path to loyal citizenship, an approach used in most free countries, including the United States, would be a sensible middle ground that would enable loyal citizenship for those who truly want peace. 

Such a plan should be explained to, and closely coordinated with, the new Trump administration, which seems open to hearing these new ideas. The time has come for Israel’s politicians to learn from past failures and to adopt this new approach to peace – a peace plan based on biblical principles, historical justice, and common sense.

David Rubin is former mayor of Shiloh, Israel, as well as founder and president of the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his three-year-old son were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack. He is the author of five books, including Peace for Peace: Israel in the New Middle East.