By Moshe Koppel, JPost—
President Trump’s announcement of his plan promises to dramatically change the nature of the relationship between Israel and its neighbors. Although the details of the plan require further study, the main outlines are already clear.
The United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over major portions of Judea and Samaria, including all Israeli cities and neighborhoods and the entire Jordan Valley. In areas that have been under Israeli civilian control (Area C) but in which Israel has not built, no construction will be allowed by either side. Israel alone will be responsible for security for all territory west of the Jordan River. The Palestinians will be offered a pathway to statehood, conditional on satisfying a number of conditions – recognizing Israel as a Jewish state with its capital in Jerusalem, disarming Hamas, stopping payments to terrorists, eliminating hateful indoctrination and incitement in schools, and so on.
President Trump, Ambassador Friedman, and envoys Jarred Kushner and Jason Greenblatt deserve the gratitude of the Israeli public for charting a new and more promising direction toward stability in the region. All previous attempts to bring peace to the region were based on the absurd idea that peace could be made with those who don’t seek peace.
The demand that the Palestinians take significant steps to demonstrate their peaceful intentions prior to receiving any concessions is the key change in approach. Stability will only be achieved when the Palestinians are treated like responsible adults; the perfectly reasonable demands being made of them as prerequisites to statehood do exactly that. The fact that all of their supporters regard the expectation that the Palestinians will act like responsible adults as an unrealistic and unreasonable imposition tells us all we need to know.
Israeli security control over the entire area of Judea and Samaria and recognized sovereignty over significant portions of it are also crucial for regional stability. Establishing Israeli permanence in these areas facilitates the necessary massive investment in infrastructure and industry for advancing the prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Nevertheless, the plan is not without risks that must be addressed. The main problem is that Israeli acceptance of the plan can be misinterpreted as acceptance, in principle, of a future Palestinian state. It is true that the plan foresees a Palestinian state only after a list of conditions is fulfilled – and these conditions are unlikely to ever be fulfilled. Moreover, the state that is foreseen by the plan will have no more authority than the Palestinian Authority – essentially a municipal government – has now. Nevertheless, past experience indicates that such conditional and limited recognition could potentially take on a dynamic of its own and the conditions and limitations could easily be forgotten or swept under the rug by governments less friendly to Israel – including future American administrations. It is therefore crucial that these conditions and limitations be firmly locked in. Continue Reading….