Since President Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel, after David Ben-Gurion declared its independence on May 14, 1948, all American Presidents before Donald Trump recognized Israel’s existence but did not recognize the Jewishness of Israel. They saw Israel as a refuge for Holocaust survivors and other Jews fleeing persecution. But they did not accept that the nation of Israel in 1948 was the Israel from the Bible; the liberation of the ancient Jewish people and the eternal nation of Israel.
But in January 2017, Trump entered the White House. He said that Israel is a light to the nations, that the land of Israel is the promised land, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. He said that Jerusalem cannot be liberated because it has already been liberated. He said that no one will be removed from their home for peace. And among other things, he conditioned Palestinians statehood on full Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s rights to their historic homeland in the land of Israel.
Trump is the most pro-Israel US President in history. Against tremendous opposition, he made it American policy that the Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel. In December 2017, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and effected the 1995 Act of Congress to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. He also stated in November 2019 that Jewish settlements in the "Disputed Territories (aka Judea and Samaria, West Bank)" were consistent with international law.
In January 2020, President Trump unveiled the deal of the century: Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, better known as the Trump Peace Plan.
According to the Trump Peace Plan, the United States will support an Israeli decision to apply its laws to the Jordan Valley and the Israeli settlements in the Disputed Territories. Israel could apply its sovereignty to about half of Area C. And everything in the rest of Area C will be governed as it has been up until now. Israel would have permanent overriding security authority over all of the Disputed Territories, even after a peace agreement is concluded.
Within the Territories, approximately 97% of Israelis would be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory and 97% of Palestinian Arabs into contiguous Palestinian Arab territory.
The plan affirms Israel has a right to the entirety of undivided Jerusalem, recognizing it as Israel's capital, and puts the Temple Mount under Israeli sovereignty. The plan also gives Israel the task of safeguarding the Holy Sites and guaranteeing freedom of worship.
The plan proposes a State of Palestine with a capital on the outskirts of eastern Jerusalem, which will not be established up to four years into the execution of the plan. It would be conditional on Palestinian Arabs taking steps to demilitarize and become self-governing.
The Palestinians would have four years to agree to the plan, including: Recognizing Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people; disarming Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad Movement and all Palestinians under their authority; accepting Israeli control over the airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, and that Israel will be responsible for security at all international crossings into the State of Palestine; agreeing to a demilitarized state; accepting that there will be no Palestinian Arab immigration to Israel from abroad; agreeing to Israeli sovereignty over the border with Jordan; terminating payments to the families of terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists; etc.; to reach a deal.
If they accomplish these, America will recognize them as a state and they will receive the rest of Area C. If they refuse to do any of them, then at the end of four years, Israel would no longer be bound by the terms of the plan and could apply its law to all the areas of the Territories it requires. And the plan places no restriction on construction inside of the Israeli communities already existing in the Territories.
The plan includes a section on releasing terrorists: Israel is expected to release terrorists only after a peace deal has been signed, and the Palestinian Arabs have returned all Israeli prisoners and MIAs to Israel. Whereas under the Oslo Accords, Israel was supposed to release terrorists as a confidence building measure to facilitate the opening of negotiations.
Furthermore, under Oslo, Israel was required to release murderers; however, the Trump Peace Plan states explicitly that Israel will not release murderers or accessories to murder.
The plan also states explicitly that Israeli citizens will not be released in any future release of terrorists. Previously, the PLO regularly demands the release of Arab Israel citizens convicted of terrorism charges; a subversive demand implying PLO jurisdiction over Arab Israelis. Israel vigorously objected, but all previous US administrations supported the PLO demand.
After the plan was published, Israelis discovered significant errors with the attached map. If left uncorrected, they could endanger the security of tens of thousands of Israelis whose communities could be rendered isolated enclaves. Since ensuring Israel’s ability to defend itself and its citizens on a permanent basis is a major goal of the plan, these errors were obviously an oversight.
On February 15, the membership of a joint American-Israeli committee to work on the map was announced. It includes American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, his policy adviser Aryeh Lightstone, and Scott Leith, a National Security Council expert on Israel. Israeli members include Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. No deadline for the conclusion of deliberations has been set.
The Trump plan is a test for Israel. Before the conclusion of deliberations of the joint committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should orchestrate the application of Israeli law over the Jordan Valley and the Israeli communities in the Territories.
And Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party should agree to abandon the Oslo Accords most of its members embrace, and accept that Israel is capable of asserting its sovereign rights to the areas of the Territories it requires.
Benny Gantz’s campaign strategist Joel Benenson served in the same role for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and for Hillary Clinton in 2016. If the next Israeli government prioritizes good relations with pro-Iranian Democrats over Israeli sovereignty and defeating Israel’s enemies, it would undermine the strategic windfall Israel is now experiencing.
In Feb 2020, 107 Democrat members of Congress and 12 Democrat senators, (among them four presidential candidates), signed letters to President Trump supported by the anti-Israel lobby J Street rejecting his peace plan. All the leading Democrat presidential candidates denounced the plan as a “smokescreen” for annexation.
For years, despite their protestations of support for Israel and commitment to Israel’s security, the Democrats have adopted a policy towards Israel that revolves around their obsession to destroy the Israeli communities in the Territories and transfer the areas Jew free to the Palestinian Arabs. After Donald Trump was elected president, the Obama administration so hated these communities that it pushed through UN Security Council resolution 2234 that maliciously called them “illegal.”
President Obama’s hostility towards Israel was legendary. Aside from the direct damage he caused, his animosity gave the Europeans cover for their bigoted efforts to promote economic boycotts by, among other things, mandating discriminatory labeling guidelines for Israeli products from Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Territories.
The Trump Peace Plan bears out the central maxim of Zionism: the map of Israel is determined by the settlement of Israel. The land Jews live in is the land over which they control and take possession.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the legal fraternity should act in accordance with the law, which empowers the government to determine national policies, instead of continuing to make up laws to block government action.
Unelected state prosecutors and Supreme Court justices already control all aspects of public life under the guise of the “rule of law” and “substantive democracy,” based on the dictum of the former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak: Everything is justiciable. Thus entrenching the notion that the unelected court was superior to all other branches of the government. The only way to restore Israel’s democracy by legislating checks and restraints on their powers is by reelecting Netanyahu with a parliamentary majority. That seems to have happened.
Israel’s prolonged political instability endangers its most strategic interests and squanders its greatest strategic opportunities. Israeli voters must understand this: The March 2 election was a referendum on the Trump Peace Plan, which includes Israeli sovereignty over the communities in the Territories and parts of Area C that Israel requires for its security. Trump would back Netanyahu to achieve it. But if the left had won Gantz would have buried the plan by subjecting it, as he announced, to the approval of the mostly anti-Semitic international community.
Trump is a true friend of the Jewish people. He did not offer Israelis a perfect plan. But he offered a plan with significant sovereignty and security for Israel, which sets it apart from all previous American plans. The March 2 election was a referendum on Israeli sovereignty.
Dr. Sheyin-Stevens is a Registered Patent Attorney based in Florida, USA. He earned his Doctorate in Law from the University of Miami.