Trump’s peace plan is once-in-a-lifetime chance for Israel

PM Netanyahu hugs Trump in Washington

Trump’s peace plan is once-in-a-lifetime chance for Israel

Opinion: The so-called deal of the century gives Israel carte blanche to annex Jordan Valley and other settlements in the West Bank; although the move will entail worldwide backlash, it’s a window of opportunity that might close forever

Shimrit Meir|Updated: 01.26.20

The future Palestinian state, as envisioned by U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, sounds like such a pleasant place that it almost makes you want to pack your bags and move there. It’s a demilitarized state where Hamas has no military wing or rockets, no salaries are paid to terrorists’ families and Israel is recognized as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital. A dream.
But there is no Palestinian state, of course, and it seems like there also won’t be one in the foreseeable future.

To label the so-called deal of the century- engineered by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner – as a “peace plan” would be misleading because it is something completely different. It’s intended to shake up the dogmatic perspective in which we got used to seeing the decades-long conflict and grants Israel a real chance to expand its borders.

The political interests here are crystal-clear. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to improve his chances ahead of March 2 elections, while Trump wants to win over the evangelical vote in the U.S. ahead of the November 3 national ballot. It doesn’t change the fact that Israel has a limited window of opportunity during which it will have a carte blanche from the White House to annex the Jordan Valley and apply Israeli sovereignty over all its settlements in the West Bank regardless of how the Palestinians feel about it.

If it isn’t done now, it will never be done.

בנימין נתניהו מסיבת עיתונאים

The next U.S. administration could easily roll back its policy regarding the conflict to more “traditional” peace plans, like the one proposed by ex-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, or worse – it could favor the Palestinians. This is, nevertheless, a far-reaching process that could have serious consequences, especially on Israel’s relations with Jordan.

The toxic atmosphere in Israeli politics made it seem as if Netanyahu’s willingness to share the stage in Washington with his main political rival, Blue & White Chairman Benny Gantz, was a trap. It might as well be one but it’s unlikely.

Netanyahu understands that Trump can okay the annexation of the Jordan Valley without being the one who has to deal with the consequences: deteriorating relations with the Jordanians, the Europeans, the Democratic Party in the U.S. and of course, the Palestinians, who might take to the streets in mass and act out violently. This is a move that demands Israeli courage and Netanyahu will find this task hard to accomplish by himself, especially in the wake of his legal troubles.

The relative indifference with which this whole ordeal has been received so far in the Arab world stems from precisely that. “It’s all about Israeli elections. It’ll pass”, said almost every Arab official, and they might be right.The burden of proof is on Netanyahu and Gantz.

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