March 6, 2018
Palestinians reject Trump administration's Israel-Palestinian peace plan before they see it
Dear Friend of FLAME:
Greetings from Washington, DC, where I'm attending the AIPAC policy
conference, the largest gathering of pro-Israel advocates outside of
Israel. A major source of the buzz here concerns rumors spurting out about
terms of the White House's long-anticipated Israel-Palestinian peace plan.
While the plan hasn't been officially released—and the administration
denies any truth to the rumors—terms were probably leaked by Saudi Arabia, with whom U.S. mediators have been
consulting as they develop proposals.
Whatever the source and however accurate the rumors, the Palestinians have
made it clear they hate the deal in every way. Here are the
purported highlights of the Trump plan:
Recognition of a Palestinian state, with its capital in East
Jerusalem's Old City will be placed under international protection
Large settlement blocs will remain in about 10% of Judea and Samaria
(all in area C of the West Bank), presumably under Israeli sovereignty
Israel will retain control of the Jordan Valley but will turn over
control of areas A and B—where most Palestinians live in the disputed
territories—to the Palestinian Authority.
A land bridge under Israel's sovereignty will connect the West Bank
Egypt will take over responsibility for security in the Gaza Strip
Palestinians will relinquish the "right of return" for Palestinian
refugees and their descendants, as well as all property claims inside
The U.S. will lead an effort to raise $40 billion to aid development
of the new state
Presumably, this "deal" would include Arab recognition of Israel as the
homeland of the Jewish people—a notion that has driven the Palestinians
apoplectic for decades.
While Israel has been wisely mute on these terms, we can imagine the major
areas of discomfort: Dividing Jerusalem (which Netanyahu has promised will
never happen) and putting the heart of it under international protection
(protection from what?); plus a smaller piece of Judea and Samaria
than Israel would like (Netanyahu is said to prefer 15% of the
The Palestinians, however, are already fulminating wildly about the Trump
proposal—though of course they haven't seen an official version. Saeb
Erekat, long-time Palestinian negotiator and spokesperson, calls the
proposal a framework for an apartheid single state.
Beneath the Palestinian sturm and drang has to be a) the Arabs' utter
rejection of a Jewish state and b) their fantastical 70-year promise that
all five million descendants of the original Palestinian refugees
(only about 30,000 of the originals remain alive) will "return" to Israel
and thus effect a demographic coup d'etat.
This week's FLAME Hotline-featured article provides a valuable
perspective on how likely the Trump administration will be to make any
progress with the Palestinians . . . or the Israelis for that matter.
Both leaderships have more to gain in the short term by forestalling such
talks. What's more, as the writers make clear, neither Israeli nor
Palestinian populations seem anxious for peace talks. Yet, despite it all,
they conclude Mr. Trump could surprise us all and force some positive
changes, if not a full-blown peace.
I hope you'll forward this concise analysis to friends, family and fellow
congregants to help them understand what it would take for Israelis and
Palestinians to get serious again about peace.
hope you'll also quickly review the P.S. immediately below, which
describes FLAME's latest hasbarah campaign to directly urge the President and U.S. Congress to back up their rhetoric
on Iran with definitive action. I hope you agree with and will support
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Islamic Republic continues to spread its jihadist tentacles throughout the
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Why a Two-State Solution for Israel and the Palestinians Is Closer Than You Think
by Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka, Washington Post, February 28, 2018
As President Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House next week, opinions have never been more dour about the possibility of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Trump administration says it is working on a plan, but its intended
transfer of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and its
open criticism of Palestinians' quest for statehood have driven the Arabs
from the bargaining table. Meanwhile, support for a two-state solution has
slipped to 46 percent among Israelis and Palestinians, and each population
votes for politicians who oppose a deal. Likud, the party leading Israel,
says it is uninterested in negotiating. (Indeed, many of its members and
their coalition partners say they prefer various schemes to annex
substantial parts of the West Bank.) Netanyahu is facing corruption
allegations that could remove him from office, but a successor would
probably commit to the same positions.
Yet things are not as hopeless as they seem.
A survey last month by Tel Aviv University's Tami Steinmetz Center for
Peace Research and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research,
suggests that the Trump administration could devise a plan both publics
could support. For those committed to Israel's security and character as a
Jewish and democratic state, the survey's finding that "both sides prefer
the two-state solution to all other conflict resolution options" gives
several reasons for optimism.
The poll identifies concrete policy incentives that, if added to the basic
terms of plans put forward over the past 18 years, would dramatically
increase support for a new proposal. For example, 44 percent of Israeli
Jews who oppose a two-state solution would change their minds if the
Palestinian government commits to maintaining Israeli-Palestinian security
cooperation, including sharing intelligence with Israeli security forces,
preventing attacks and arresting terrorism suspects. Adding this element to
a peace plan would increase Israeli support from 46 to 59 percent.
Among Palestinians who are opposed, 39 percent would change their minds and
support an agreement if Israel recognized the "Nakba," the exodus of
Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes in 1948 during what
Israel calls its War of Independence, as well as the suffering of these
refugees, and if Israel provides compensation to them. (This does not
require Israel to grant the refugees a right of return to Israel, a
justifiable dealbreaker for Israelis.) Including this provision in a plan
would boost Palestinian backing to 62 percent.
Some incentives appeal to both sides.
The most noteworthy ones, which would also advance U.S. interests, involve
a regional approach. Making the Israeli-Palestinian agreement part of the
framework of the Arab Peace Initiative would change the minds of 37 percent
of Israelis and 24 percent of Palestinians who originally opposed an
agreement. And including formal guarantees by the United States, Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, which would create a joint commission to ensure proper
implementation by both sides, would induce 39 percent of Israeli Jews who
initially opposed the agreement to support it and 27 percent of
Palestinians to do likewise.
A third component that appeals to both sides: ensuring that Palestine would
be a democracy. This would change the minds of 4o percent of Israeli Jews
and 37 percent of Palestinians to support an agreement.
In a Catch-22 finding, the most significant reason people oppose a
two-state solution is their perception that it is not feasible. So, if the
Trump administration's plan is demonstrably realistic and feasible,
Palestinians and Israelis will support it.
These findings demonstrate that flexibility and open attitudes still exist
on both sides and that the right policies can reverse rejection of a
two-state package by Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides have shown a
complete absence of political courage for a decade, and if the Trump
administration hopes to surmount this cowardice, it will need proposals
that allow the leaders to attract popular support while still making hard
Still, progress is unlikely until the White House rehabilitates
with the Palestinian leadership and repairs the damage caused by the
Jerusalem declaration. That requires a fair and balanced plan, including
terms referring to the Jerusalem area as hosting capitals of both states
with a special regime over the Old City.
If Trump's team uses the survey's findings to carefully craft a plan that
will garner the support of a majority of people on both sides, and
regionally, the administration may well find that the people will drag
their recalcitrant, spineless leaders into a process gradually leading to
two states for two peoples. Even if it does not result in an ultimate,
final-status deal, that would still be a historic achievement.
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