The two-step solution
The two-step solution

Last week, the Trump team tabled  “Peace to Prosperity” otherwise known as  Deal of the Century, in which they set out their vision for achieving peace. It includes the creation of a Palestinian “state”.  The Palestinian leadership was quick to reject it as did the Arab League and many others including many Israelis.

Nobody believes the “state” will come to be.

Surely the Trump team knows this. So why did they table the vision?

In my opinion, the Trump team wanted to present a new vision to replace the old vision. During the next four years they will advance their vision and negate the old vision.

The old vision

The old vision was based on the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 and 1995 and  the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 which demanded 100% withdrawal by Israel.  In addition, it demanded the right of return for all Palestinian "refugees" and the division of Jerusalem.  

This vision was premised on the Palestinian narrative that presented the Palestinian Arabs as indigenous and the Israelis as interlopers, oppressors and occupiers.

According to Peace to Prosperity, “The Oslo Accords, however, left numerous key issues unresolved pending the completion of permanent status negotiations, including, among other items, borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem. Those agreements did not create an effective path for neutralizing the kinds of crises that emerged during the implementation of Oslo, including waves of terror and violence.”

The Accords became a permanent constitution articulating the division of powers between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) over Areas A, B and C of Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) as delineated by the Accords. They enabled the PA to wage war on Israel and to reject any compromise.

The final status issues were impediments to reaching agreement because the PA was not prepared to compromise.  In fact, they were not prepared to make an end of conflict agreement on any terms.

The new vision:

The new vision is built on recognizing the “Israel’s valid legal and historical claims”. 

President Trump, soon after he was inaugurated, began to undo the harm foisted on Israel by the US, the EU and the UN over the years.

To this end, Trump has 

  • weakened UNRWA, cutting its funding and questioning its legitimacy. 
  • weakened the PA by kicking it out of Washington and reducing its financial support, 
  • recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and has moved the US Embassy to it. In other words, he took Jerusalem off the table
  • declared the "settlements" not illegal
  • induced Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and others to abandon the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 upon which the old vision is based
  • challenged the UN and the EU for their efforts to delegitimize Israel
  • questioned the number of real refugees remaining

Peace to Prosperity also takes many issues off the table. It recognized that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, that the “refugees” will have to be settled in places other than Israel and that Israel can extend its sovereignty over most of its settlements and the Jordan Valley long before an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs is reached.

It also asserts “The State of Israel and the United States do not believe the State of Israel is legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100 percent of pre-1967 territory (a belief that is consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 242).”

As for the neglected Jewish refugees from Arab countries it provides; 

“The Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab and Muslim countries also suffered. Most settled in the State of Israel and some settled elsewhere. The Jewish refugee issue, including compensation for lost assets, must also be addressed.

“Additionally, the State of Israel deserves compensation for the costs of absorbing Jewish refugees from those countries. A just, fair and realistic solution for the issues relating to Jewish refugees must be implemented through an appropriate international mechanism separate from the Israel-Palestinian Peace Agreement.”  

This is long overdue.

While it does provide that “the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted”, it insists: 

“Jerusalem’s holy sites should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths. People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.” 

This totally contradicts the present practice of limiting Jewish and Christian prayer there.

It also provides preconditions to the establishment of the “state”.

“The following criteria are a predicate to the formation of a Palestinian State and must be determined to have occurred by the State of Israel and the United States, jointly, acting in good faith, after consultation with the Palestinian Authority:

‘The Palestinians shall have implemented a governing system with a constitution or another system for establishing the rule of law that provides for freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, protections for religious freedom and for religious minorities to observe their faith, uniform and fair enforcement of law and contractual rights, due process under law, and an independent judiciary with appropriate legal consequences and punishment established for violations of the law.

‘The Palestinians shall have established transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions capable of engaging in international market transactions in the same manner as financial institutions of western democracies with appropriate governance to prevent corruption and ensure the proper use of such funds, and a legal system to protect investments and to address market-based commercial expectations. The State of Palestine should meet the independent objective criteria to join the International Monetary Fund.

‘The Palestinians shall have ended all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity.

‘The Palestinians shall have achieved civilian and law enforcement control over all of its territory and demilitarized its population.

‘The Palestinians shall have complied with all the other terms and conditions of this Vision.”

Let us assume that all pundits are correct, namely that the “state” will not be created within the four years provided or ever.  What are Israel’s options? She can extend sovereignty throughout all the land and contend with the Arabs living there. Thus the Arabs will constitute 1/3 of the residents of Israel. Many Israelis have suggested offering them a path to Israeli citizenship but others are vehemently opposed preferring to induce them with generous financial assistance, to emigrate.

The present vision is to give Palestinian citizenship to all Palestinians but if there is no Palestinian “state” then what? 

With the cooperation of Jordan, Jordanian citizenship can be given to them instead.  In fact, all of them currently have Jordanian citizenship but Jordan has attempted to retract or limit this citizenship.

Jordan has been a big supporter of the creation of Palestine pursuant to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.  King Abdullah saw that as the only way to prevent Jordan from becoming Palestine. After all, 80% of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs.

Let us imagine that Jordan changes its mind and agrees to become the Palestinian state in place of the one that fails to materialize pursuant to the Deal of the Century.  This change of mind can come about either through the King's agreement or by his giving over the reins of leadersihp to someone who will. 

The $50 Billion pledge in support of this vision could be provided to Jordan to enable it to become the home for all Palestinian Arabs and to provide them with jobs, education and healthcare.
Were this to happen, all Palestinian Arabs in both sides of the Jordan R. would become full Jordanian citizens. without restrictions. The two roads connecting the proposed “state” to Jordan would be completed facilitating transportation between the Palestinian Arabs on both sides of the Jordan R.

Jordan would take over the administration of Areas A and B and Gaza in place of the PA and Hamas. Jordan would also fulfill the role of UNRWA in providing education, welfare and health care to all the current day refugees.

Rather than build the tunnel connecting Gaza to the rest of the “state”, pursuant to the vision, at a cost exceeding $15 Billion, Jordan can invite all residents of Gaza and Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) to relocate to Jordan to receive these benefits. Also immigrants could be offered free housing in Jordan with international aid to sweeten the deal. It is not too far-fetched to believe that 2 million Arabs living in these areas could be incentivized to relocate to Jordan which is only 100 miles away or to any other country prepared to accept them. 

It would not be necessary for Israel to give up any parts of its territory.

Israel would extend its law to all the lands west of the Jordan R including Gaza and the Arabs would become foreign residents in Israel with Jordanian citizenship.

The $50 Billion pledge in support of this vision could be provided to Jordan to enable it to become the home for all Palestinian Arabs and to provide them with jobs, education and healthcare.

Instead of investing in industrial parks in Area C in Israel to benefit the Arabs as proposed by Min Bennett and PM Netanyahu, these zones will rightly be created in Jordan thereby incentivizing Arabs to emigrate to Jordan.

This is a two step solution.

The first step is to change the vision as above set out.

The second step is to make Jordan, Palestine.