Deal of the Century - prospect and peril

Director of Yesha Council Yigal Dilmoni presents opportunities and risks in Trump plan, explaining why council is acting to change the map.

Yigal Dilmoni ,

Netanyahu and Trump
Netanyahu and Trump
Kobi Gideon, GPO

In recent days, many words have been thrown around about sovereignty and the Trump outline. The media makes huge headlines out of every expression, however small, diverting the debate from the essence and content to gossip and petty political preoccupation. To get a big picture, one must go deeper and learn.

Our role as settlement leadership is to look after the residents of the area and the future of the State of Israel, and especially this important region of the country. I have read the plan in depth, I have known the area and the localities for many years, I have known the development processes and future developments, and, most importantly, I have studied the map that came with the White House declaration on the "Deal of the Century".

After the American recognition of the Golan Heights and the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, Secretary of State Pompeo stated that Israeli settlement in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley does not contravene international law.

This is an important and strategic legal statement and is a positive and meaningful turn in the approach of the US and President Donald Trump towards the State of Israel and settlement. The Deal of the Century also recognizes Israel's right to stretches of its homeland, and there is a great chance for the first time to apply Israeli law to territories in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. However, it also has great risks for the future of the State of Israel.

Quoting from the opening pages of the plan can clarify the great concern over acceptance of this plan in its entirety: "This vision creates a realistic solution for two states where a safe and prosperous Palestinian state will be at peace alongside the State of Israel ... Any peace agreement must take into account the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinians for self-determination. ... the current vision seeks to address this by setting the territory for a future Palestinian state, strengthening Palestinian self-government institutions, providing legal status and international standing of a state ... ".

Delving into the plan raises some points to think about and address:

1. In the Deal of the Century presented in the White House last January, the United States recognized Israel's authority and ability to apply sovereignty in the Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. This is a tremendous change in orientation that President Trump brings with him. For the first time, Israeli law can be applied to large areas of the region, something we have dreamed about for years.

2. The “Deal of the Century” includes a long document and conceptual map, which recognizes the application of Israeli sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley over about 30% -33% of the area, with the remainder of Area C (about 30%) frozen for at least 4 years. The plan also includes stringent conditions and requirements from the Palestinian Authority, which, if met, lead to agreement for the establishment of a Palestinian state over about 70% of the territory. It is unclear until when this right will be reserved for the Palestinians. What is understandable is that there is no clear deadline, but rather "at least four years," as Prime Minister Netanyahu said.

3. The conceptual map includes the contiguous territory of the future Palestinian state (about 68% + compensation in the territory of sovereign Israel), and more than 20 Israeli localities that will remain as enclaves in the area outside sovereignty and will be subject to a freeze on construction and prohibition on expansion from the built-up area.

4. If the plan is approved in its entirety, it may be the first time that there is official Israeli consent for and recognition of a Palestinian state, with the creation of a possible basis for such a state by drawing a map of the application of the law and creating a continuous border line (about 850 km) between 30% of the area under sovereignty and the remaining 70%. Even if the Palestinians do not meet the conditions - Israeli and American acceptance or recognition of a Palestinian state will remain forever.

5. As soon as the plan is accepted, about 20 localities will become isolated - enclaves inside Palestinian territory, in which a construction freeze with the approval of only "upward construction" will begin. This issue is under discussion, but one sentence from the plan shows the dangerous intentions: "The Israeli population in these enclaves will have a choice to remain in place unless chosen differently." It is clear to us what this means, and why, in general, a construction freeze is needed. So that the population will "choose differently" - this prevents the absorption of young couples and families, thus creating suffocation and necrosis, thus encouraging residents to leave communities.

6. The map also shows the continuity of sovereignty on major roads, including Highway 60 at several key points - between Elon Moreh and the Tapuah junction, between Shiloh and Ofra, between Ofra and Jerusalem, between Gush Etzion and Hevron, and between Hevron and Otniel, Trans-Judea Route 35, Ateret-Neve Tzuf road and more.

7. Adoption of the plan and map will inevitably result in the continued Palestinian takeover and massive illegal construction in Area C, which even now is barely enforced.

8. The program presents additional risks. It also includes a proposal to hand over additional parts of the Land of Israel to the PA in the regions of Arad, Umm al-Fahm and Halutza. There is a possibility for refugee return. A Palestinian capital in Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem appears. According to the plan, a joint crossings authority with the PA will be established that will include the opening of land crossings from Jordan that can cause an influx of refugees.

To summarize and state clearly: This plan brings prospects and risks. The main task of the Israeli government is to reduce the risks to zero and increase the prospects to one hundred.

How to do it? By changing the map, and these are exactly the things we at the Yesha Council are working to change at present.

Israeli sovereignty must be maintained between the communities, over all the roads and infrastructure. It is necessary to cancel any construction and infrastructure freeze and equalize the status of all localities. Massive construction should be allowed in all localities. A clear exit plan must be produced in a set amount of time known in advance. A deadline when the time is up for the Palestinians to fulfill the conditions.

It must be declared that this plan does not include concessions or forbidden consent to a Palestinian state. The map presented threatens the future of settlement and the State of Israel. Correcting it and adapting it to settlement needs will turn the perils into prospects, and be the key to a historic and important political move.

Yigal Dilmoni is Director of the Yesha Council.