The long-awaited Peace Plan (“the Plan) of President Donald Trump was revealed this evening (7:00 p.m. Israel time). President Trump was accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as both men entered the hall and delivered their presentations to repeated applause and standing ovations. There was a lot of name recognition, position recognition and nation recognition, as part and parcel of the introductory and closing remarks of both President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the course of his presentation, Trump stated to a very receptive audience: “I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems.”
The Plan itself is a multi-page document, which is attached. It appears to be presented in the form of a business agreement, stating how each side would benefit from it and what are the requirements, particularly from the “Palestinian” side, to establishing statehood and receiving recognition and support from the United States. It contains territorial division maps and a lot of historical and social explanation, as well as what could pass for an economic business plan. The essential content and terms, referred to by both Trump and Netanyahu in their speeches, are to be found in different locations and some of them are expressed plainly. That does not mean that all that glitters is gold. In the rush to “make a deal”, we may not fully apprehend what are the short-term and long-term pitfalls that are hidden in the document.Trump’s Peace Plan
Trump expressed that it is the best plan that was ever presented in an attempt to bring about an end to the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict. Netanyahu said he is willing to embrace it and enter into peace negotiations with the “Palestinians” on the basis of that Plan.
A lot was said, some points were laid out, others remain to be read, interpreted, argued over and worked out. The aspects of the plan that were expressed are clear. The written language will take some time to understand, to digest and, if accepted, to implement. Acceptance and implementation are the two problem areas. Opposition has already been expressed by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), the President of the “Palestinian” Authority (P.A.), as well as by the leadership of Hamas. Within an hour of the conclusion of the Plan’s presentation, Abu Mazen said to his advisors: “I never pushed myself to die, but I am prepared to die for my nation.” Earlier, he said that “Jerusalem is not for sale, the conspiracy will fail.” In one of Israel’s Hebrew dailies today, Abu Mazen was quoted as saying that in the few remaining years of his life, he would not want to be considered a traitor. That is, he would not depart from the ways of his predecessors, who refused to come to terms with the State of Israel that would necessitate a recognition of it. He would rather die as a martyr than be remembered as a traitor. In typical fashion, his threats are like clouds without water. However, there is widespread outrage within the P.A. over the terms and conditions of the Plan, which was rejected by the P.A. long before the details were released. Demonstrations have already started in the streets of Gaza and Ramallah, and ambulances arrived at different places to treat some of those who were injured while taking part in the demonstrations. In addition, before the television broadcast was over, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem issued a security alert and travel advisory.
The major points include some of the following, that is part of the proposed two-state resolution of the conflict:
1. Jerusalem will continue to be the undivided (emphasized by Trump) capital of the State of Israel;
2. Israel will agree to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state, whose capital will be in parts of East Jerusalem and whose area size will be approximately double its present size;
3. Establishment of the “Palestinian” state is conditioned on guarantees of security conditions for Israel;
4. The various parts of the “Palestinian” state will be connected by roads, bridges and tunnels;
5. The establishment of the “Palestinian” state is conditioned on the “Palestinians” ending their terrorist activities and taking steps towards self-government, including recognising man’s dignity and human rights, freedom of the press and setting up reliable institutions without corruption;
6. The Hamas terrorist organization is to be disarmed and Gaza is to be completely demilitarized. This is a non-starter, as the very basis of its existence is to eliminate the State of Israel;
7. The “Palestinian” refugee problem is to be resolved “outside the State of Israel”;
8. The P.A. is to cease brain-washing school children and teaching them to hate. This is like asking the leopard to change its spots;
9. All of the settlements in Judea and Samaria will be annexed by, and made part of, Israel;
10. Israel will freeze new, settlement construction for a period of four years, in exchange for the U.S. recognizing all of the settlements in Judea and Samaria;
11. The Jordan Valley will be annexed by Israel, giving the country complete security control west of the Jordan River. This will not sit well with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and could jeopardise the “peace treaty” that exists between Israel and Jordan;
12. Religious sites are to remain accessible to all faiths;
13. The status quo is to remain regarding the Temple Mount.
There are, of course, other aspects to the Plan, which will not be discussed at this time, including financial considerations that are intended to be beneficial to the “Palestinians”.
The Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, one of Iran’s proxies, wasted no time in denouncing the Plan, calling it both “aggressive” and “nonsense”, adding: “The ‘Palestinians’ will confront this deal and Jerusalem will remain a ‘Palestinian’ land.”
The Israeli cabinet will also meet this coming Sunday to vote on applying Israeli sovereignty over the settlements in Judea and Samaria.
There is no denying that President Trump’s presentation was very pro-Israel. This was clear when he stated, in part: “It is time for the Muslim world to correct the mistake they made in 1948 when they chose to attack and not recognize the State of Israel.” However, he took time to express concern for the “Palestinian” people and indicated that the Plan is designed to help them achieve their potential. The Plan and the way it was presented goes far to remove the incentive of the “Palestinians” to refuse its terms. But, as in the past, the likelihood is that the “Palestinians” will pull out all the stops to cause the Plan to fail. Somewhere along the line, there will be an attempt to twist what was offered to them into an accusation against Israel.
There is reaction to the Plan on the Israel side, as well. Some ministers object to the establishment of a terror state in the heart of the country and to the giving away of Israeli territory. One Member of Knesset said that the Plan is “light and darkness mixed up”.
When it was Netanyahu’s turn to speak, he was all smiles and thankful to Trump and everyone else who was involved in the preparation of the Plan. His presentation was overly “schmaltzy” (excessively complimentary) and he bent over backwards to say how much he was in favor of the Plan and would work to implement some of it immediately. His statement that he was willing to negotiate with the ‘Palestinians” on the basis of that Plan goes contrary to his earlier promises that a “Palestinian” state would not be established on his watch.
What is clear is that the “Deal of the Century” needs to be carefully studied and its implications fully understood. This will not be an easy task. In the final analysis, I am doubtful that the Plan in its present form will be fully acceptable to any of the parties involved. For Israel, there are dangers in allowing a “Palestinian” state, or any enemy state, to exist in its midst. A simple glance at the map of Israel and the proposed division should speak for itself. Some things are so evident that trying to make the obvious explicit will only confuse matters.
Then there is the aspect of Prime Minister Netanyahu being willing to give away what has been entrusted to the nation of Israel by the One who has established us as a people. (Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7-8; Deut. 1:8). There will be a serious accounting for dividing God’s land (see Joel 3:2).
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7) If this is true on an individual level, how much more true would it be on a national level? Woe to us if our ways are NOT pleasing to the LORD. A piece of paper, however lengthy and detailed it may be, will not create the conditions for a lasting peace. Only a changed heart will accomplish that.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.