The Trump Deal: Dead on arrival?

The “Deal of the Century” is based on a number of fallacies that lack basic understanding of the Arab motivations for war and aggression against Israel and is thus destined to failure. These fallacies run counter to the president’s own instincts.

David Shalom

OpEds תומכי טראמפ
תומכי טראמפ

President Donald Trump and the current US Administration are to be commended for their steadfast support of Israel and the commitment to the elimination of Islamic terrorism within the Middle East. In this vein Trump has defeated and destroyed the Islamic State (ISIS) and eliminated its leader -Al Baghdadi, has re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran and eliminated its chief terrorist leader- Qassem Soleimani most recently. Similarly in 2018 this administration expelled the PLO delegation to Washington and under his leadership US funding has been cut to UNRWA the UN body that was a major enabler for Palestinian Arab terrorism and assault on Israel and which the administration rightly described as “irredeemably flawed”.

Rewarding the aggressors can never lead to peace but rather will only prolong the suffering of their victims.
Unfortunately, Trump’s peace plan - formally titled: “Peace to Prosperity- A vision to improve the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” goes against the very grain of his policies and worldview by rewarding the aggressors and seeking to mimic the basic misconceptions that have been the hallmark of the Left-wing both in the US (typified by the State Department and the whole Democratic Party) and Israel itself. 

The plan sets out to create an Arab state in the heart of Israel on approximately 70% of Judea and Samaria (the misnamed “West Bank”) and the Gaza Strip and to give this state further land within Israel’s southern Negev region near the Egyptian border. It also promises to inject $50 Billion into the “Palestinian” Arab economy over the next 10 years through a combination of loans and some (22%) private sector investment which it hopes will create a million jobs. It forces Israel to freeze all construction in the land for this future state over 4 years and also hopes this Arab state will be liberal, democratic and peaceful. Of course, this is a ridiculous pipedream and by comparison none of the 22 existing Arab states are anything close to being democratic or liberal and in fact are all dictatorships and mostly failed states par excellence.

The new peace plan is counter to the direction and to the healthy and successful instincts that have guided the President’s achievements in the region over the last 3 years. The plan is based on four major misunderstandings and fallacies namely:

  • That it is possible to satiate the Arabs desire to conquer and destroy all of Israel by the creation of another failed Arab state in the heart of the land of Israel. Rewarding the aggressor- whether through territory or funds or other improvements to the Palestinian standard of living- will not deter further Arab aggression. Actually, the contrary is true as any concessions- whether territorial, financial or even in legitimisation of the PLO as a state or state-like entity, will only encourage further hostility. 


  • That such a Palestinian Arab state would be anything but a dangerous terror regime that would not only threaten Israel but ultimately act as a source of inspiration for global Islamic terrorism.

  • The notion that there is a “Palestinian” people- somehow separate or distinct from the Arab-Islamic states and people in the region. No such nation or identity really exists, and its creation is actually part of the Arab war to delegitimise Israel and undermine the undeniable and unique Jewish connection to the land.

  • That it is Israel, which the president described as “minuscule” in his speech unveiling the plan, that must give land to the Arabs – where of course the opposite is plainly true. The Arabs have lands that are hundreds of times larger than Israel and need no more. The Arab hatred is based on a religious and nationalist ideology that will not accept a non-Islamic, non-Arab state on any borders in the region. Even if they were offered 99% of the land, they would still be prepared to launch a jihad for the remaining 1%.

  • That such a Palestinian Arab state would be anything but a dangerous terror regime that would not only threaten Israel but ultimately act as a source of inspiration for global Islamic terrorism.

If the US wishes to create a new state in the Middle East, for a people who are comparatively peaceful and inclined to adopt democratic government then the Arabs should be last on this list. Indeed, it would surely be better to spend that $50 Billion on the Kurds. For while the Arabs are state and land rich the Kurds are stateless, have a long and distinct culture and history and would jump at the chance of statehood even without the need for such bribery. 

It is surely better to spend that $50 Billion on the Kurds.

The Ghetto-exile like mentality that has been prevalent amongst the Jewish and Israeli Left has clearly permeated the worldview of a plan written by mostly well-intentioned but misguided American Jews (from Greenblatt to Kushner himself) and is unfortunately a non-starter to defeat terror. The notion that we can bribe the anti-Semites- be they Cossacks or Polish mobs, the Nazis or Hamas, ISIS or the PLO to deter them from their paths of evil is inherently flawed and has been shown throughout history to be very dangerous. This plan does exactly this- bribery, whether it be in the form of funding, employment, territory or even prestige and the anti-Semitic PLO or Hamas or Islamic Jihad or whatever other name they go by will not be stopped by this. 

An often unstated and important fact, that Israel and its woefully weak and apologetic foreign ministry spokespersons have  failed to promote, is that the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are not a distinct people from the Arabs in Jordan or Syria or even Lebanon and Iraq. And do in fact share the same religion, culture  language and even familial ties. In many respects an ordinary Arab living in Gaza has far more in common with his Egyptian cousin across the border than his so-called “Palestinian” brother in Jenin or Ramallah. 

The Hashemite kingdom of Jordan sits on nearly 80 percent of British mandate Palestine and the Arabs in Judea and Samaria were illegally stripped of their citizenship rights in Jordan as a tool in the war against Israel and also to reduce the threat that the PLO posed to King Hussein the father of the current dictator King Abdullah II. It is mostly thus within Jordan that any Palestinian state should be found. 

Indeed true peace would dismantle the PLO and cancel the original sin of the creation of the Palestinian Authority – by the Oslo accords and accept the reality that there can be no sovereign power west of the Jordan river in the land of Israel save for the State of Israel. Any such state on whatever borders would pose a physical threat to Israel’s security and be a beacon of global anti-Semitism and terrorism.

The PLO – which forms the main body of the current Palestinian Authority was founded by the Arab governments in 1964 – three years before the territories of Judea and Samaria and Gaza were liberated from Jordanian and Egyptian occupation respectively. Its goal then, as now, is the total destruction of Israel and its replacement with Arab and Islamic rule. It is not interested in self-determination or the creation of a new nation state- the false concept on which a lot of the Trump plan rests- but is rather focussed on the eradication of any Jewish state. The Trump plan, naively asserts that as a precondition for entering any peace negotiations the PLO must accept Israel (or the rump state that it seeks to leave in place) as the Jewish state, which most likely means that no such negotiations would ever begin in any case.

President Trump correctly understood the need to re-balance the regional status quo in the Middle East, long before he took office. In 2011 he stated: 

One would have expected that Kuwait would have been the first Arab state to end the boycott and extend its arm in friendship to Israel following the 1991 Gulf War.
”You take a look at Kuwait. I mean, we handed Kuwait back to the people that right now essentially own Kuwait, because it's really ownership more than anything else. We handed it back. They never paid us."

He rightly understood there that the Gulf state liberated from the Iraqi occupation had not shown its gratitude to the Americans. One would have expected that Kuwait would have been the first Arab state to end the boycott and extend its arm in friendship to Israel following the 1991 Gulf War. Instead it clung to its decades old hatred- one that is said to be the worst in the region and arrogantly continues to attack Israel – America’s strongest ally in the region- in all public forums from the UN to even sporting contests. The Kuwaiti hostility -said to be in solidarity with their fellow Palestinian Arab brothers is the height of hypocrisy. In the period immediately following the Gulf War they then went on the expel most of the so-called Palestinian Arabs- some of whom had lived in Kuwait for decades or were even the second generation to be born in the country.  The Trump plan actually mentions this (on p.31) by saying:

“after the Kuwaiti government returned following liberation by the United States and its coalition, it began a systematic clearing of Palestinians from the country through violence and economic pressure. The population of Palestinians in Kuwait dropped from 400,000 before the invasion to about 25,000.”

Another egregious example is Iraq itself, having been liberated from the Ba’ath dictatorship and following the toppling of its dictator Saddam Hussein by America in 2003, it should have gone without saying that the new state would end hostilities with Israel. Instead the Iraqi government, even in the early years when it was completely beholden to the US, never ended its official state of war with Israel and in fact has punished severely several of its citizens for daring to suggest normalisation of relations. Most recently “Miss Iraq” was forced to flee the country for daring to have her picture taken with an Israeli model.  American policy in this regard, is part of the greater failure in Iraq, which didn’t preserve a force to counter Iranian influence and didn’t seek to force the government there to adopt a pro-American and Western position.

The majority of Israeli Jews are descendants of refugees from the Arab states and it is these same states that created the PLO, that fought major wars against Israel and continue their open hostility towards it. Even the countries of Egypt and Jordan which have signed treaties with Israel continue to inculcate their populations with anti-Semitic propaganda and hatred of Israel. Just recently the Jordanian dictator, on the 25th anniversary of the 1994 peace treaty, carried out military exercises on the border to simulate war with Israel. Egypt’s military dictator, fearing internal opposition from the Moslem Brotherhood has been more benign in recent years but its masses overwhelmingly hate Israel and its cultural product- films, books and the press uniformly spread Nazi-like propaganda.  

The Jews from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, North Africa etc had lived in the Middle East for millennia and had their land and property seized by these nascent Arab states in the 20th century. Proportionally Jews constituted over 2 percent of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War yet Israel, where most of these people were displaced to represents less than a tenth of 1 percent of the landmass. 

If the US wishes to help create a Palestinian state it should be within those vast swathes of Arab land and not within “miniscule” Israel. For example, Syria, Jordan and Iraq together are 32 times the size of Israel and could afford many possibilities. A true peace plan could seek to re-house the Arabs from Gaza and Judea and Samaria within those vast and natural-resource rich territories and also compensate Israel for Arab aggression with a fraction of the oil revenues that these states like Iraq- and Syria where hundreds of thousands of Israelis were expelled from- have enjoyed over the past 70 years.