I don’t think I’ve ever seen a subject that has spewed forth so many varied responses. I thought my circle of friends, media and online ‘stuff’ covered enough. But there’s so much out there. For instance, having been so impressed by the opinions of the Institute for National Security Studies, I naïvely discover that it’s not the only such think tank here in Israel, let alone in other concerned countries. Without taking away any of the obvious expertise at the INSS, there are so many actual experts out there who care, who make their opinions known in a variety of forums. And they do not all agree with each other.
(You’ll need a friendly drink by your side as you wade through this. I can assure that I have been wading far more).
Let me first list some suggested subtitles:
Subtitle 1: Criticism, Support, Rejection and Adoption.
Criticism is coming from all quarters. Only this morning, a respected liberal friend wondered why the boat is being rocked. E.g., the Jordan Valley will be part of Israel for security reasons. Well, it already is, and has been so since peace with Jordan. It’s full of farmers and industry, mostly Israeli, manned perhaps 50% by Jordanians/ Palestinians. Jordan is a shaky country, with enormous pressure from within (the Palestinian majority) and from without (millions of Iraqi and Syrian refugees).
It is a fact that Israel guarantees Jordan security. Thanks to Trump, the status quo is being exposed as if it is a negative.
There is support from some obvious channels, and also from some less-obvious ones. Europe has yet to decide, but it is no longer unanimously against Israel. Some really do want to see this problem go away. Some Arab countries have openly suggested giving the plan a chance. It has to be admitted that, whatever you think of the man, Netanyahu has been building friendships on all Continents.
The fact that there has been some immediate rejection surprises no one. The Arab League voted to reject the deal. May I gently suggest that ‘Arab League’ is an oxymoron. One of the only reasons Israel exists today is that the Arabs could never unite.
And the fact that some overly optimistic groups want immediate adoption of at least sovereignty also surprises no one.
Subtitle 2: This is NOT the Problem
So often have I said that if/when the Israeli/Palestinian problem is solved, it will only expose the fact this this is NOT the problem in the Middle East. It’s far larger and more complicated than that. First, we are dealing with an area full of tribal mentality and enormous cultural differences, not only with the West (and Israel does represent the West), but also amongst themselves.
Subtitle 3: Through the Little Boy’s Eyes
The players in this horrible game are acting ‘like adults’. And the proverbial child, perhaps me in this case, is asking everyone to take a step back and see how simple it would be to solve this problem, if one acted ‘normally’ and decently’.
Subtitle 4: Give this Phenomenon a Chance
Trump and his team have put everything ‘on the table’. It has become a business deal. Stop bickering over bits of land. If peace and security is the target, then create a working state – yes, like Israel – put food on everyone’s table, and hate will slowly dissipate. And let’s expose the bad dictators who are destroying their people.
Subtitle 5: Don’t you Care About Syria?
Look at suffering in Idlib. Thousands being killed, thousands freezing in the snow. 10 years. And Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya etc.
Let me try to list some of the factors that are ripping this deal apart:
The Palestinians said no before they knew anything about the deal. Why butt the trend? Why should they suddenly NOT miss an opportunity?
From Day 1, actually long before the UN vote in 1947 and the establishment of the State of Israel in ’48, they have refused to even imagine living side by side with a Jewish State (or a state for the Jews, whichever fits). Conversely, the Jews KNEW that their state would never be the ultimate dream. They KNEW that they would have unfriendly neighbours, with the hope that they would eventually get used to the idea. Every ‘deal’ involves giving something.
But when the partner across the table persistently refuses to compromise, one’s stance naturally becomes harder.
So what is the deal?? Like it or not, the Palestinians need to see this as a bankruptcy court. In fact, let’s go back to the 1947 UN resolution 181. It divided the region into 2 states. It’s for sure that the resolution already devalued the original $1 Zionist dream down to 80¢. That’s the kind of compromise everyone must accept.
Had the Palestinians (and their Arab neighbours) accepted the resolution, their original $ would also have been worth around the same 80¢. But they invested in a war – and lost. Down to 50¢ perhaps. They tried again in 1967 – and lost. Down to 25¢?
They then got involved in unwinnable negotiations, mixed with attrition and terrorism. Only their gains on the diplomatic side have helped their $ to perhaps remain at 25¢.
And in the meantime, the Zionist $ has worked its way up to perhaps $50 – depends on who’s valuing of course. But no one can deny that Israel today is a thriving state and has far less incentive to invest in doom.
The ONLY way the Palestinians can get their $ back is to invest in a future that both sides accept. That’s where the juicy $50 billion figure comes from. Yes, almost a pipe dream. But it’s there, if/when investors shall have confidence that their money will be well-spent.
Much of the investments in Palestine so far have been swept under the carpet, or into offshore private bank accounts.
When will the Palestinians learn that, at the end of the day, everyday life is what counts. This is what Trump’s Deal is all about.
3 Arab countries attended the ceremony (Abu Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain), none having official relationship with Israel. That was positive. But the 2 countries that DO have official peace with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, did not attend.
These are also the 2 countries which occupied Palestinian land between 1948-67, never offering it to the Palestinians. (Absolute hypocrisy at every turn).
Both Trump and Netanyahu are under clouds of indictment, and could be accused of attempting to drawing attention away from their legal woes. The timing of this deal does look suspicious.
Whatever Trump and his team intended, they could have done a better sales job. After 3 years of preparation, they should have known better. (My father, an actor, once appeared in a movie called ’The Singer not the Song’. Well, in this case, it’s the reverse. Forget about the singer – and his back-up group – and just focus on the song).
The land swap may be mathematically and geopolitically fair, but on the map it does look like the Apartheid homelands (the creation of Bandustan in S and SW. Africa). And this is so stupid, for in Israel proper, there is no Apartheid. The Arabs live as free citizens with equal rights. See my Letter last week about ‘the Silent Majority’. (The fact that they are sometimes treated as 2nd class citizens is the same for most minorities in most democratic countries. With the horrible way Israel had been treated by its neighbours since long before the State was established, what the minorities have achieved under the circumstances is unbelievable).
Especially on the subject of refuges, the Palestinians have met with overly sympathetic ears in the int’l community (much based on anti-Semitism – there is no other explanation). ‘Refugees’ is not a new subject. There have been 100s of conflicts worldwide in recent years. Those that followed the Israeli War of Independence included a greater number of Jewish refugees from the surrounding Arab countries – Jewish Arabs. Somehow, the Palestinians succeeded in being treated differently. The UN set up a special agency for them. Why? One could argue that UN would have had a much stronger argument to set up a separate department to help the Holocaust survivors. That would have been much more ‘honest’ than perpetuating the Palestinian refugee situation so that it became an ongoing industry.
And although Palestinian in their diaspora can only be given the right to return to a Palestinian state, and not to Israel, I do NOT agree that those currently living with Israeli citizenship in Israel proper will lose the Israeli passports as a result of the land swaps, when they suddenly find themselves living on the Palestinian side of the border. These Israelis must be given the choice to choose where they live and with which citizenship. (Yes, if they choose to stay in Palestine as Israeli Arabs, then they would be danger for their lives. Well, that’s exactly the problem that has to be destroyed. Perhaps 50% of Israel’s citizens are Jewish Arabs; think about it).
The Palestinians plan to cut ties with Israel and the US?? Well, isn’t that the brightest idea…
They have been given 4 years to ‘prove their commitment’. It took them 1 day to kill the deal.
President Abbas still believes that Middle East peace depends on the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. That’s a joke. And who was the one who had a sympathetic ear for him on his recent visit to New York and the UN? Ex-Israeli PM, Ehud Olmert, whose legacy includes imprisonment for corruption and bribery, and whose dealings with Abbas resulted in the failed Annapolis peace negotiations and the subsequent violence. Another meddler.
Jerusalem – ‘Undivided’ was clearly repeated during Trump’s speech. Then he mentions East Jerusalem as the potential capital of Palestine. And he’ll be the first to place an embassy there. So, 2 embassies in the same city? Years ago, I suggested embassies along the dividing border in Jerusalem, with an entrance on either side.
Not sure there’s ever been a precedent for this; never in history have 2 countries shared the same capital. Calling theirs ‘East Jerusalem’ ain’t gonna do it for me. Perhaps they’ll name it ‘Al Quds’, which is the Arabic name for Jerusalem until now. Stephen Pohlmann is prepared to accept that for the sake of peace and quiet.
[Paradoxes in the Middle East: President Abiy of Ethiopia was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his efforts to make peace with Eritrea. (From what I know about the subject, he deserved the prize more than Arafat, Rabin and Peres, whose efforts to bring peace brought more violence). Well, this same man is now willing to go to war with Egypt over the construction of the ‘Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam 2,000 miles upriver from Egypt. The fight over the water of the Nile has been threatening to ‘overflow’ for many years. The Dam reservoir is expected to be functional within a few months. Peace is relative…]
Summary. There is no question that Trump is proving to be ‘Israel’s best-ever friend’. And Netanyahu is no fool; he’s milking the situation as best he can. Is this to be a short-lived love? Will Netanyahu survive the next elections in March? Will Trump survive his next election/s/ And if not, would the Democrats win? Would they then rescind Trump’s decisions? It’s all up in the air.
I shall not see peace between Israel and its neighbours within my lifetime. But the Israeli $ will continue increasing in value, and the Palestinian $ will fall to single digit cents.
It’s up to them…
February 23, 2020