The threatened presidential leavetaking of President Trump should provide the impetus for the joint Trump-Netanyahu Mapping Committee to publish its map delineating the areas of Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') to which Israeli sovereignty can be expanded at present under Trump’s Peace Plan released last January.
Trump made this intention clear when releasing his Plan:
“We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved”
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman went further:
“The president got up and he made a speech. And he said there will be a committee and the committee will go through a process; the process will not last very long, but we want to go through a process.”
The Committee’s first meeting - held on 24 February - comprised:
- David Friedman, his senior adviser Aryeh Lightstone, and Scott Leith, director of Israeli and Palestinian affairs in the US National Security Council.
- Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, acting Prime Minister's Office chief Ronen Peretz, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.
Little has been heard of its progress since.
Trump would be following former presidents who progressed their peace plans as fast and as far as they could before their four year terms of office ended:
- President Clinton brought together Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at Camp David as late as December 2000 who failed to reach agreement on Clinton’s proposed two-state solution before he stood down as President on 20 January 2001
- President George Bush - whose 2002 Road Map and 2007 Annapolis process never came to fruition - attempted to solidify gains made under Annapolis with UNSC Resolution 1850 - approved on 16 December 2008 – before he left office on 20 January 2009.
- President Barack Obama discarded the Annapolis process for his own peace initiatives, which had come to naught in April 2014 when negotiations were broken off. With no hope of reversing this deadlock Obama regrettably refused to veto UNSC Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016 as he was preparing to leave the White House on 20 January 2017 - which proposed a two-state resolution based on the pre-1967 armistice lines
Trump still has until 20 January 2021 left in his present term to try and bring his Plan to fruition.
Trump – unlike Clinton, Bush and Obama - has been unable to get the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to negotiate with Israel on his Plan.
However Trump can still materially advance his Plan by:
- releasing the Mapping Committee’s map showing the areas of Judea and Samaria where Israeli sovereignty can be applied now
- procuring consent to that map by Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrein and Sudan who have all normalized their relationships with Israel
- getting other Arab states to normalize their relationships with Israel and agree to the Mapping Committee’s proposals
- attempting to get the PLO to negotiate with Israel and
- giving Israel the green light to apply sovereignty when it considers appropriate
Trump begun his presidency by visiting Saudi Arabia and pledging to bring peace to the Middle East.
During his Presidency - Trump took significant steps to recognise Israel’s claim to Judea and Samaria by determining that:
- Israeli settlements located there were not inconsistent with international law
- the US would not distinguish between Israel and Judea and Samaria in its future dealings with Israel
Early release of the Mapping Committee’s map will ensure Trump’s momentum for peace continues full speed ahead until at least 20 January 2021 - and beyond if re-elected for a second term.
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog.
David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.