Op-Ed: Trump’s Mideast peace plan takes shape—and it’s not good

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U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office

By Stephen M. Flatow

Senior Trump administration officials reportedly are crafting a plan for Middle East peace. Based on the details that are available so far, friends of Israel have good reason for concern.

According to a front-page New York Times report on Nov. 12, the administration is preparing what it considers to be an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. There appear to be two phases to the plan.

Phase one will consist of “confidence-building provisions” by each side. The problem is that Israel will be expected to make new concessions, while the Palestinians will be asked to do things that they already committed to do in the Oslo Accords 24 years ago.

In other words, Israel will be forced to pay yet again for the same rug that it bought more than two decades ago.

According to the Times, the “confidence-building” measures Israel will be pressed to take will include halting Jewish construction in most of Judea and Samaria, publicly committing to creation of a Palestinian state, and handing over additional parts of the territories to the Palestinian Authority (PA). All three of those actions go way beyond what the Oslo Accords obligate Israel to do.

And what “confidence-building” gestures will the PA be asked to undertake? “Resuming full security cooperation with Israel”—which the Oslo Accords already required it to do; “holding off seeking further international recognition”—which the Oslo Accords also required it to do; and “ending payments” to families of Palestinian terrorists—which is likewise an Oslo obligation, since the accords prohibit the PA from doing anything to encourage or incite terrorism. Giving out financial rewards for terrorism obviously encourages terrorism.

That’s just phase one of Trump’s “ultimate plan.” Phase two is even worse. The Trump plan, according to the Times, will “be built around the so-called two state solution that has been the core of peacemaking efforts for years.”

Just when friends of Israel were feeling hopeful about the Trump administration’s refusal to publicly endorse Palestinian statehood, it appears that our hopes were misplaced.

To judge by the Times article, the current administration is laboring under the same delusion as its predecessor—the idea that creating a Palestinian state is the key to achieving peace.

Here’s what that means. Israel would be forced back to approximately the pre-1967 lines—so that the middle of the country would be just nine miles wide. Planes landing and taking off from Ben Gurion Airport would be within striking distance of any terrorist with a shoulder-launched missile, standing inside the borders of “Palestine.”

A sovereign Palestinian state would be able to important whatever weapons it wants. It could also invite in foreign “volunteers”—that is, Iranian troops—and there would be nothing Israel could do about it.

In addition, a Palestinian state would mean that the central part of the historic Jewish homeland will be torn away from the Jewish people. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that cities such as Shiloh, Shechem (Nablus) and Hebron are the ones mentioned in the Torah, not Tel Aviv or Haifa. Of course, creating a Palestinian state there would mean the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in those regions.

What would Israel get in exchange? A piece of paper with essentially the same worthless promises that the Palestinian leadership made when the Oslo agreement was signed.

No wonder the PA’s envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, was quoted in the Times as heaping praise on the Trump initiative. If the Israel-haters of the PA love the plan, you can bet that spells trouble for Israel.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow

The fact is that American “peace plans” have never led to peace between Israel and the Arabs, and never will. What’s needed to make peace is for the Arab world to stop making war. When the leaders of Egypt and Jordan decided, for their own reasons—not because of any U.S. plan—that it would be in their interest to stop waging war against Israel, peace treaties soon followed.

The Palestinian Arabs, however, are still addicted to the strategy of signing peace accords (Oslo, Gaza-Jericho, Oslo II, Wye River) while continuing to wage war. The Trump administration should focus on getting the PA to honor the agreements it has already signed. That would advance peace a lot further than circulating yet another pie-in-the-sky peace plan.

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.
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