30 January 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: Now Time For Palestinian Leaders To Win The Peace

There’s not been a modern-day American President who has not hoped to broker peace in the Middle East between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

President Donald Trump has joined that list of American Presidents who believe they have a bold enough vision to bring the warring factions of the region together.

The Israelis, Saudi Arabi, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have publicly welcomed the Trump Administration’s proposal as a potential watershed moment for a Palestinian State – and peace – in the region.

Unfortunately, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has already declared the proposal dead on arrival, as have others in the United States, particularly the so-called “J-Street” lobby.

Yet, what may actually be dead on arrival this time is a world willing to allow the Palestinians and its shrinking group of allies to continue to wage war for the sole sake of wiping Israel off the Earth.

The Trump plan envisions a Palestinian State.  It envisions a Palestinian State at peace with its neighbors – Jews and Arabs alike.

It provides for economic incentives that can help address the staggering poverty and unemployment that plagues the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian unemployment rate sits at 18% in the West Bank and 52% in Gaza.

Over time, with American support, the Trump Administration envisions cutting the Palestinian poverty rate in half.

Other elements of the plan, outlined in multiple publications and online, include:

  • Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem
  • Palestinians achieving a capital
  • Arab residents of Jerusalem could choose to become citizens of Israel or of the new Palestinian state. Or, they could choose to remain permanent residents of Israel without becoming citizens of either state.
  • Increasing from its current size, the Palestinian state would more than double, absorbing nearly 80% of the West Bank.
  • Gaza would be connected to the West Bank by high-speed rail
  • The so-called “Triangle Communities”—Arab towns inside of Israel southeast of Haifa—could become part of the future Palestinian state under the plan.
  • It rejects the right of return to land for Palestinians who left their homes after Israel’s creation in 1948. Again, reality being called upon. Palestinians are the only group since the end of World War II to keep their refugee status and pass it on for 4 generations. The creation of a Palestinian state , existing peaceably  alongside Israel, a Jewish State, offers Palestinians a solution of peace and security.

After 70 years, and efforts by every American President that have failed since Lyndon Johnson, why should America even bother trying to bring peace to the region?

It’s the President’s own words at a press event announcing the details of his plan that speak volumes about the reasons for the Palestinian people:

“I was saddened by the fate of the Palestinian people. They deserve a far better life, they deserve the chance to achieve their extraordinary potential. Palestinians have been trapped in a cycle of terrorism, poverty, and violence exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism.”

And, it is this cycle of terrorism, poverty and violence that should be a legacy that Palestinian leaders should hope to leave behind by agreeing to a peace plan that ensures peace and prosperity for future generations.

The voices of dissent have already drawn lines in the sand claiming no negotiations can begin until the United States rescinds its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That decision, made in December 2017, is not on the table under this plan or likely any future plan the Palestinians hope to achieve.

Rather this plan is steeped in the reality that Jerusalem is the Capitol of Israel, that religious shrines will be open to all faiths;  and that the Palestinians can have their Capitol in East Jerusalem, where the US will locate an Embassy. 

That decision, made in December 2017, is not on the table under this plan or likely any future plan the Palestinians hope to achieve.

It also demands security for Israel.

A singular demand that must exists if a Palestinian state is to be achieve in the next four years.

Conditions that require Palestinian leaders to stop inciting terrorism, payments to terrorist and to disarm Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel will be allowed to continue to ensure its security over time with the vision being that the more stable the region becomes the more Israel can refocus the resources it spends to defend herself on more productive pursuits for its people, and the people of the region.

There is never a simple peace.

For Israel the notion of peace has been more conceptual than reality since its first days of creation.

The expectation that Israel should capitulate its security, land and rights to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state, almost unilaterally, is the goal of entrenched Palestinian leaders and the terrorist groups of Hamas and bad actor states like Iran.

But even that has not been enough for them for nearly 70 years.

They want Israel gone.  They want Jews gone.

As long as the United States stands firm in its resolve neither goal will ever be achieved.

Jonathan S. Tobin, in a brilliant column in the Jewish News Syndicate, makes it clear what stands in the way of peace.

And, it’s not Israel.

“Abbas may think that it’s outrageous that he’s being asked to accept less than what George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert offered him in 2008, or what Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak offered his predecessor Yasser Arafat in 2000 and 2001. But what Trump’s critics forget is that both Abbas and Arafat rejected those offers of Palestinian statehood in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem…No Palestinian leader has the courage to make peace with Israel, no matter where its borders are drawn, because they remain locked into a war that they have already lost.”

It’s time for Palestinian leaders, and those aligned with them to win the peace by getting to the table with the Israeli’s and doing the hard work to negotiate the terms and conditions to finally bring peace to the region

For the people of the Middle East.

For Israel.

For the Palestinian People.