A few days ago such a title would have been considered surreal; today - after the arrival of Trump's special envoy, Jason Greenblatt - no longer. And what's more, taking place before our eyes is one of those miracles that occur only in the Holy Land - a man hated and despised becomes a fragrant citron fruit overnight, protectively swaddled in cotton wool.
This time, it's President of the United States. The Left and the hostile media made him out to be a rude and primitive idiot, and behold: Even he undergoes a transformation. The Catholic Church has "trans-substantiation" - bread becomes flesh of the Redeemer in the mouth of the believer. In the Church of Peace, a reviled and abhorred politician becomes a valuable etrog once he adopts the State of Palestine and casts the settlements to perdition. In the hostile media this turnabout is already noticeable. One serial Trump defamer is already talking in a tone of, "Wait, Wait, with Trump there's no fooling around! ...", referring to crippling Jews in the territories he calls "occupied".
What in the world happened? Has the Nationalist Camp truly tumbled from the lofty heights unto the abysmal depths? From the lofty heights - Yes. Those who thought that the White House became Gush Emunim headquarters need to come back to earth and first take care that the government complex in Jerusalem is not occupied by someone willing to trade Isaiah's vision for the vision of a Palestinian state. Nevertheless, a fall to fulfill the expectations of the left, there also wasn't.
Much can be learned from the Trump-Abbas telephone conversation - designed to formally open a channel of dialogue between the new US government and Ramallah - from what was and what was not said in it. References to a Palestinian state came only from the mouth of Mahmoud Abbas, not from the American President, whose entire message to the Palestinian Authority was that he sees in it a "partner" for peace process negotiations. Nevertheless, Trump made sure to tell the Palestinian chairman that the years of luxuries they have become accustomed to in the merry Obama days have ended: Number one, "The United States can not impose a solution on the parties" and therefore there probably will not be an American "peace plan", with the same American pressure and condemnations at every step of the way that we are accustomed to.
Number two: "Peace can be achieved through direct negotiations", thereby depriving the Chairman of one of his sharpest weapons: the United Nations. Is it reasonable to assume that a shameful decision like the latest one from the Security Council, which was not achieved without the active help of Obama, will not recur. For that matter - close the UN arena to Palestinian sovereignty games and imposing sanctions on us. Mahmoud Abbas is no longer free to achieve through the UN what he would have to pay for in negotiations, a cost he is both unwilling and unable to bear.
Even Israel has no great desire to sit down again to the negotiating table with the Palestinians, despite the public posturing about the "outstretched hand always" - blah, blah, blah. There is no inclination, since after all the claims and counter-claims, all the replicas, everything has been eroded to a point and the two parties know it's a dead end, unlike the green Americans who think an existential struggle dating back over 100 years with roots that touch the depths of history, can be closed like a Manhattan real-estate transaction. However, it is quite likely that negotiations will be resumed and each side will try, as though he was being forced, to sweep the expected blame for his own failure to the door of the other side.
This is not good news, but the really bad news is already discernible, and it concerns the settlement enterprise. There are two parties to the negotiations, one on each side: the Arabs must provide an absence of military terror of the type we experienced in the second Intifada (the occasional stabbing here and there does not count), and the Jewish contribution is expressed as the settlement freeze. Therefore, the Dermer-Greenblatt Committee's mandate is to "suppress settlement construction".
For example, is Jerusalem included? And in "blocs" - Is it permissible to build only within space of existing neighborhoods or up to municipal boundaries? Incidentally, this is typical and ominous, that no one dreams of suppressing Arab construction, not even in Area C, the Jewish Pale of Settlement! And so the negotiations will get moving, even with "full gas in neutral", the fumes only choking the Jewish building project. The Arabs will be able to continue what they have been doing with great alacrity, taking control of Area C, which contains the key to the future: continued Jewish construction there would close the Palestinian option in the western Land of Israel, whereas freezing Jewish building, while Arab construction continues, will cause the Jewish settlement enterprise to atrophy and eventually wither away.
Nugatory negotiations may stretch out a long time. Netanyahu is Mister Status Quo, always preferring non-action because it least threatens his rule, and Abbas also quite enjoys the fruits of government just as it is. Any change - especially an agreement with Israel - would endanger his chair and could cost his life.
Thus remains Jewish settlement as the expiatory rooster for all the "process" participants, it is the currency with which to buy time, and the longer it takes - the better. Already today, time is "working": They postponed the decision on construction for Amona's displaced residents, the debate on the annexation of Ma'ale Adumim, and even the execution of thousands of housing tenders that have just been decided and declared - until after Greenblatt, then they will probably postpone until after Netanyahu's second visit to the United States, and so on.
For those who believe that the destruction of the settlements will call into question the very existence of Green Line Israel, the outlook of "suppressing" settlement is unacceptable and prompts an urgent debate on whether to support the Netanyahu's continued reign, after he failed to abandon the two states vision, and it is possible that he identifies with or even participates in executing American initiatives, first and foremost the continuation of the freeze.
Is there really any point and purpose for the Land of Israel loyalists - and there are many in the Knesset and in the government - to maintain the sheeplike silence that has gripped them since the moment Trump came to power - now that the rules of the game have been revealed and we see clearly that the certain losers are the People and the Land of Israel?
Translated by Mordechai Sones