Much praise and hopeful anticipation has arisen since the announcement of “the deal of the century.” The Saudis have issued what can be read as a positive, or at worst, a neutral press release on the plan. And other Arab nations were present at the unveiling in Washington, D.C. They wouldn’t have been there if they were not approving of the plan.
I asked an Israeli who has had her share of Palestinian-caused grief what she thought. She replied, “It is the best ever suggested because it starts with the premise that we keep all the communities and that we deserve security - and that they are the bad guys who have to stop trying to destroy us. After Obama and those before him, that is refreshing.” It goes downhill from here.
According to President Trump’s plan, an independent, sovereign state of “Palestine” will be established in 80% of Judea-Samaria, and 100% of Gaza. The two will be connected by a tunnel. We know what Arafat smuggled between Judea and the Shomron and Gaza when the Palestinians had access via roadways. A tunnel permits smuggling of an unprecedented nature out of Israeli eyes.
Two of the largest Palestinian Arab cities, Tulkarm and Qalqilya, are situated just nine miles from the Mediterranean. They will become the western-most border area of “Palestine.” Meaning that Israel would be nine miles wide at its narrowest point.
On the eve of the Six Day War, Israeli mothers living in that part of the country refused to let their children go to school, for fear that an Arab tank column would cut Israel in two, possibly leaving their children on the Arab side. That’s how precarious those borders were—and would be again.
In return for agreeing to Palestinian statehood, what would Israel get, according to the Trump plan? A bunch of promises that the Palestinian Arabs already made in the Oslo accords, which they never fulfilled. Disarming terrorists. Halting anti-Jewish incitement. Recognizing Israel. Why is there any reason to think they will fulfill those promises now?
Supporters of the Trump plan will point to the provision that prevents “Palestine” from having a full-fledged army. Who, exactly, is going to enforce that restriction when push comes to shove?
If the government of “Palestine” starts bringing in, say, armored vehicles—which it will claim that it needs for internal security—will Israel invade, risking international sanctions? Will the American public —with its vocal disapproval of involvement in ”endless Middle East wars”— tolerate sending U.S. troops to battle the Palestinians? Don’t bet on it.
Who will Israel complain to about Palestinian Arab violations? The United Nations? We know the UN will do nothing, and Israel will have to weigh acceptance of the latest Palestinian violations or risk all-out war.
We’ve seen this movie before—in the years following World War I. The Versailles agreement imposed various restrictions on the German military. Germany was barred from having an Air Force. The Rhineland territory was supposed to be demilitarized. And what happened when Hitler began building an air force, and re-militarized the Rhineland? There were a few complaints to the League of Nations, no action was taken, and the rest is history.
Many friends of Israel will find it difficult to believe that a plan promoted by President Trump could be bad for Israel, when he has done so many good things for Israel.
Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Recognizing Israel’s right to the Golan Heights. Reversing the Obama position that Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria are illegal. Significantly reducing U.S. aid to the Palestinian Arabs. These were all unprecedented and commendable. Israel and most American Jews appropriately expressed their gratitude.
But just because a president takes some pro-Israel actions does not mean that everything he does will always be good for Israel. Ronald Reagan was generally pro-Israel—but the Reagan Plan of 1982 proposed such sweeping Israeli territorial concessions that Prime Minister Menachem Begin said it would be “national suicide” for Israel.
Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama maintained high levels of U.S. military and other assistance to Israel. In fact, Obama signed the largest-ever aid package to Israel. But those good and important actions did not change the fact that both Clinton and Obama repeatedly tried to pressure Israel to make dangerous concessions to the Arabs.
There are those who advocate a tactical approach. They say Israel should embrace the Trump Plan, despite its obvious dangers, because the Palestinian Arabs are rejecting it. So, therefore Israel looks good and no damage is caused. But counting on the Arabs to always be rejectionist is risky.
Remember—for years, we all assumed Yasir Arafat would never even pretend to recognize Israel. Then he did. The result: a terrorist Palestinian Authority regime in Judea-Samaria and the creation of a terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza. Perhaps in a few months, or a few years, some new Palestinian leader will pretend to accept Israel again. And then what? More “casualties of the peace” as Israeli government leaders called my daughter Alisa and the others who were viciously murdered in the early, happy days of the Oslo Accords?
In the end, my Israeli friend had this to say, “if we are forced to accept it with some changes, we can manage to stay afloat.”
There’s nothing in the world like an Israeli’s optimism about the future of her, indeed, our, little Jewish country.
Only this time, the reward will be an independent state and an Israeli return to indefensible borders. How can any friend of Israel advocate risking such an outcome?
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” is now available on Kindle.