Efforts are being made to bridge the reported gap between the Likud and the “Blue and White” party regarding the Vision for Peace.
Based on past statements of Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, their personal opposition and the opposition of the Israeli left to the proposed plan is confusing.
I fear that their opposition may lead us into the nightmare of a bi-national state. Considering all the alternatives, Donald Trump’s ‘Vision for Peace’ is the best plan for Israel.
"During my military service, I met an Arab leader in one of the Middle Eastern states. He said to me, ‘General Gantz, there are 14 million people between Jordan and the ocean. A few million are Jews and a few million are Palestinians, and no one is going anywhere. We have to find ways to live together.’ I agree with every word he said. I believe that for us, as Israelis, it is important to find a solution without compromising our security needs and the safety of our people."
These are the words of Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz as he addressed the Jewish Community of Mexico in December 2018. The dramatic insight of that Arab leader directly relates to the ‘Vision for Peace’.
Prior to the formulation of the Trump plan, the world wanted to ignore reality and force Israel back into the borders of 1949 - 1967. The Vision for Peace, however, seeks to use the current reality to create a comprehensive peace plan.
The proposed plan recognizes that Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in Judea and Samaria, and neither group is going to disappear. The Arab official with whom Gantz agreed came to the same conclusion: "No one is going anywhere, we have to find ways to live together." I am in favor of finding ways to coexist, and I therefore support the Vision for Peace which enables both Arabs and Israelis to remain in their homes.
In October 2018, the head of the Israel Institute for National Security Studies interviewed Former Chief of Staff Gen. Amos Yadlin, who laid out the conditions for conducting peace with the Palestinians.
The main points of his plan were as follows: “The security fence will mark the route of separation. 65% of Judea and Samaria will be designated as a Palestinian state. Security control will remain in the Jordan Valley. No settlements will be evacuated. Gaza and Jerusalem are not currently on the agenda. If the Palestinians do not cooperate, Israel will promote the plan independently."
It is important to note that Gantz and Ashkenazi were involved in the formulation of this plan, and the Israeli left rushed to adopt it. So when it comes to debating the Trump plan, I can understand the opposition of the right who reject the establishment of a Palestinian state, but I cannot comprehend the opposition on the left, when it is clear that central elements of the ‘Vision for Peace’ were derived from the plan that was approved by Gantz and Ashkenazi only two years ago! Is it not in Israel's best interest to further this process?
This plan offers the Palestinians the potential for significant autonomy on 65% of the area. In their opinion, as well as mine, Israel cannot become a bi-national state. The ‘Vision for Peace’ will prevent that from occurring, and is therefore worthy of our support.
In light of all the alternatives the answer is clear - Israel must adopt the plan, as it is the compromise between the Israeli right and the left, and it should be the compromise between Israel and the Palestinians.
Many say that we must have international support in order to adopt the plan. The only way such support could materialize is if Israel affirmatively embraces the plan. But if Israel does not, it is unreasonable to complain about the lack of international support. Yet despite this Israeli hesitation, we can see evidence of such support materializing. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly received commitments from several countries, including some from Europe, who have agreed not to oppose the progression of the ‘Vision for Peace’. Israel now needs to look within, and decide what it wants to achieve. I hope that Gantz and Ashkenazi will remain consistent with their 2018 position, a position that will undoubtedly preserve our Blue & White flag.
By embracing the ‘Vision for Peace,’ Israel will express its desire to enter into direct negotiations with the Palestinians subject to the preconditions outlined in the plan, and at the same time we will begin applying Israeli civil law upon the Israeli communities throughout Judea and Samaria. We have been conditioned to entice the Palestinians to participate in negotiations with carrots. We should not be afraid to entice them with sticks. Hopefully the new approach incorporated into the plan will be more successful than previous efforts. And if not, at least the US government will recognize Israeli sovereignty in Judea & Samaria.
Gantz and Ashkenazi, both of whom have served as IDF Chief of Staff, are well acquainted with the IDF Civil Administration and the reliance on the military to exercise and enforce civil law in Judea and Samaria. Now that there are half a million Israelis living in this area, neither the civil administration nor the army can or should handle such a challenge.
Just last week, a meeting with Defense Minister Gantz concluded that the Ministry of Defense, the Commander in Chief, and the Civil Administration cannot continue to manage the needs of the 500,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. Once Israeli law is applied with Gantz’s support, the IDF will be able to focus on what it does best, and the governing of the region will be more efficient, professional, and appropriate.
Blue and White should say ‘yes’ to the plan precisely because it represents what they have been preaching for years.