I have been reading about the Trump Peace Plan and listening to a good deal of news and debates about it. And I have some opinions to share. I was going to write up something long and complicated, but very few would have the time to wade through such. First, I want to mention that my book, The Face of Samaria, is still relevant and will provide background information regarding the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
There have been many US Presidents who have tried to come up with what they thought was a solution to the Jewish Israeli-Palestinian Arab Conflict. As we know, none so far has worked.
In 1993 President Clinton was able to put together a so-called Peace Treaty known as the Olso Accord signed by both Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin and Palestinian Authority President, Yassar Arafat. As a result, Israel gave up control of sections of Judea and Samaria (aka "West Bank"), but Yassar Arafat continued to promote terrorism and did not abide by the agreement. No one would say that his murderous Intifada from 2000 – 2007 in which over a thousand Israelis died reflected a peace treaty.
It appears that the Palestinian Authority (PA), really the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is not interested in peace. Even in 2000 when during a meeting between President Clinton, Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and Yassar Arafat, Arafat turned down Barak’s offer of ovre 90 percent of the "West Bank." The Palestinian Arabs have turned down the offer of a State at least six times. Most experts in the Middle East know that the PLO will not be happy until all the Jews are gone and they control all the land west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
George W Bush held a meeting between Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who replaced Yassar Arafat and Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2003 which, unfortunately, paved the way to Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The disengagement from Gaza was not a good idea and has caused Israel years of rockets, incendiary kites, attempted infiltration and resulting IDF operations. President Obama unsuccessfully tried to find a solution through peace talks that fell apart.
Michael Oren in his 2007 book, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, presents examples of the good that western folks contributed to the Middle East, but he also has examples of how the US government does not understand the problems in the Middle East like those who live in that part of the world.
In light of the above, why is President Trump so set on trying to solve the Israel-Palestinian issue? There are plenty of problems in the United States of America to solve along with some big issues around the world including China, Iran, and Venezuela. Israel is not the fifty first state of the United States and Israel is very capable of solving its own problems. President Trump should be congratulated for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and for recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but that is enough. It is best to leave the rest alone.
I have read the Trump Peace Plan and it is too complex and detailed to discuss in full here, but I want to highlight some of the problems that I see that should not be handled by the US government or other outsiders. Here are a few of the things that are problematic.
-A building freeze on the "settlements" for four or five years is not good or practical. God’s program is for the Jewish communities to continue to grow and expand. There are many Israelis in the region who need a home and they should not have to wait so long.
-It is unrealistic to think that Hamas will ever lay down its arms or that Fatah will ever completely end terrorist education and attacks. That is one of the conditions for the Peace Plan to move ahead. Not only is that a problem, but the PLO has flatly rejected the entire Plan. It does not seem hopeful that it will work out according to what Trump wanted. After so many years of hate and terrorism, money will not change the Palestinian Arabs into a Jew-loving and peace-loving people.
-If the Israel government extends its sovereignty over 30 percent of the "West Bank "as proposed by the Trump Peace Plan without any endorsement by the PA, it might mean that there will be no Palestinian State and that Israeli sovereignty would eventually be extended to 100 percent of the "West Bank".
-However, because of the way the Peace Plan is written, extending sovereignty over 30% now would establish a new Israel border and would leave the 70% as a potential Palestinian State. Other countries would no longer consider that Israel might one day include that 70% as well.
-If, God forbid, the 70% should ever become a Palestinian State, it would isolate many wonderful Jewish settlements. Ayelet Shaked said it well. “If, G-d forbid, a Palestinian state is created, large settlements such as Otniel and Har Bracha would become cut-off islands. And the plan would decree that they be frozen. Har Bracha is a town which could have tens of thousands of housing units. Freezing it now would cause it to wither.”
She also made the point that instead of a Palestinian continuum with Israeli enclaves, it should be an Israeli continuum with Palestinian enclaves. No Israeli Jew wants to be surrounded by hostile Palestinian Arabs without the police or army protection that they currently have. In addition, if there is a Palestinian State these "settlers" would require more than twice the distance and time to drive to Jerusalem in order to avoid entering that hostile territory.
I am not in favor of a Two State Solution. I have often joked about the impossible task of drawing a map of the boundaries of a Palestinian Arab State. We keep hearing that President Trump’s team and Israeli officials are working on a map of the proposed entity. The map that was published in the revealed Peace Plan really does not make sense. A tunnel from Gaza to the "West Bank" is especially stupid.
-How is it possible that the Palestinian Arab towns are going to be connected? How are all of the Jewish communities going to be connected? What would keep the Palestinians from firing rockets on Ben Gurion Airport and the coastal towns like the rockets they fired from Gaza? If there is a Palestinian Arab State, what will be their source of electricity and water? They lack the infrastructure to be an independent State.
Since the Yom Kippur war, idealistic Israelis have been working hard to establish beautiful communities throughout Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley believing that this land has been given to the Jews by God and that eventually Israel will extend its sovereignty over the entire area. Anyone who knows his Bible knows that this land was given to Israel by God. “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their fathers to give them, and it is you who shall apportion it to them.” (Deuteronomy 31:7 JPS)
Is the government or the courts going to act contrary to what God has said? US Presidents do not understand this, the EU does not want to accept this, and the Arab leaders reject this. The Jews have to decide if they will stand with God on this or not. God forbid if they don’t. Many in Israel believe this and for sure the settlers do. In many ways the establishment of communities in Judea and Samaria is no different than Jewish settlers establishing Petach Tikva and other towns in what is seen today as the undisputed parts of Israel years ago. They also faced opposition from Arabs. Jews around the world supported those settlements.
-Many Palestinian Arabs prefer to live under Israel than under the PA. “What has the PA done for us?” one PA businessman asked. ‘I don’t want a state. I want money. Money is preferable to a state. The entire Palestinian people wants this. What does it want? It doesn’t want the PA. The PA robbed us and destroyed us.’” (Josh Plank, World Israel News).
If all of the "West Bank" would be under the sovereignty of Israel, some worry about the effect of so many Palestinian Arabs on the demographics of Israel, possibly destroying the nature of the Jewish State. Some suggest that there will be so many additional citizens that Jews will be outvoted and therefore would become an Arab government.
David Rubin in his book, Peace For Peace, presents a practical answer to how to handle the Palestinian population when Israel is finally sovereign over all of the West Bank. He suggests that no Palestinian would automatically be given citizenship, but that those who desire such would need to go through some steps in order to qualify. These steps would be part of an intensive two-year loyal citizenship training course that would include a study of Jewish history and Zionism, and a final exam followed by them laying their hand on the Hebrew Bible and declaring an oath to the State of Israel. This will be followed by three years of either military or national service. Anyone who fails to complete the three years will have their citizenship revoked.
David Rubin also says that those who are unhappy living under a Jewish government will be provided a one-way ticket to a nearby Arab country. Only a limited number of non-citizens would be allowed to remain in Israel depending on the need. The remaining non-citizens would go to one of the neighboring Arab countries willing to absorb them.
Either leave things like they are now so that all Jewish communities have Army protection or place 100 percent of the "West Bank" under the sovereignty of Israel.
Frank Mecklenburg is a freelance journalist living in Arad.