An article in the Jewish Light on Feb. 5 by Associate Editor Eric Berger entitled “St. Louis Jews doubt Trump peace plan will succeed” misled readers regarding the elements of President Donald Trump’s “peace plan” by mentioning only a few of the elements included in the plan.
It also included select reactions of St. Louis residents, most of whom probably have not read the plan and whose reactions were probably based solely on what they had read in subjective articles that reinforced their own political biases.
The purpose of this article is neither to endorse nor to discredit the plan but rather to inform readers how this initiative differs from those put forward by previous U.S. administrations.
Much of the information in this article is based on an analysis by Gilead Sher of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University. Sher’s detailed analysis, which can be found online, includes specific examples of how the current plan compares with the Clinton Parameters (2000); the Roadmap (2003) proposed President George W. Bush and the Middle East Quartet; and the Annapolis plan (2007-8), developed in talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen, and mediated by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
• Similar to plans put forward by previous U.S. administrations, the Trump plan endorses a solution based on two states for two peoples. The “deal of the century” allows the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, albeit smaller, irregular in shape and weaker than what is envisioned in other plans.
• Previous plans rewarded Palestinian intransigence. In the past, each time the Palestinians rejected a peace initiative, the subsequent offer was more generous in terms of the amount of land it offered. This is the first time that the Palestinians are receiving a less generous offer, which signals to the Palestinian Authority that they will not be rewarded for continued intransigence.
• This is the first plan that insists on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. This condition was absent from all of the previous frameworks proposed by the United States and is a new component in the official American plan, supporting Israel’s demand of recent years.
• This plan includes Trump’s economic plan. Trump’s economic plan offers considerable funding to promote the economy of the new Palestinian state in a range of areas, including employment, infrastructures, health systems and education.
• The plan does not require dismantling of established Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Under the Trump plan, Israel will be required to dismantle only illegal outposts, approximately 80 at present. Established Israeli settlements will not be evacuated, and the isolated settlements will remain as enclaves under Israeli sovereignty. Israel will freeze construction in the West Bank for a period of four years, during which talks will take place on the establishment of a Palestinian state. Trump’s deal includes the possibility of land swaps, so that areas in the Galilee “Triangle” within Israel proper, where populations define themselves as Palestinian, will become part of the Palestinian state. In addition, there will be territorial contiguity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, by means of transport links including a tunnel and two fast access roads, plus the possibility of a modern railway that will enable Palestinians to cross the Jordan Valley.
• The “deal of the century” supports Israeli control of Jewish Jerusalem, including the Old City, alongside a limited Palestinian presence. The Abu Dis neighborhood and another neighborhood in East Jerusalem will be declared the Palestinian capital, and the Palestinians will have freedom of worship and access to the Holy places. The Israeli border of Jerusalem will end at the separation fence, while neighborhoods beyond it will be recognized as Palestinian. With regard to the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the status quo will be maintained in cooperation with Jordan.
• The plan supports Israeli security control of all border crossings as well as a demand for the Palestinian state to be completely demilitarized, with Israel permitted to continue the war against terror and incitement. In addition, the disarmament of Hamas and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip are conditions for the establishment of the Palestinian state.
8. Within the Arab world, there has been a spectrum of support for the Trump proposal.Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have been noncommittal on the specifics of the plan and have called for both sides to be open to negotiations, while Iran and Turkey have rejected the plan. Representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman all attended the unveiling of the plan in a sign of support. Terrorist movements such as Hezbollah and the Islamic State group have rejected the plan.
The Trump proposal is intended as a starting point for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, not as a final status plan. On Feb. 1, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said that the borders envisioned by the Trump peace plan for Israel and the future state of Palestine are not set in stone and that the Palestinian Authority is welcome to provide input that Washington will take into consideration.
“If there are things they want to change, if they don’t like where we drew the lines, they should come and tell us,” Kushner told Egyptian journalist Amr Adeeb during an interview on the El-Hekaya news show.
Galit Lev-Harir is a frequent contributor to the Jewish Light. Galit is the co-president of St. Louis Friends of Israel (SLFI), the St. Louis Council representative of the Israeli American Council (IAC), and treasurer of Shevet Keshet, the St. Louis troop of Friends of Israel Scouts – Tzofim. She and her husband, Elie Harir, are members of Congregation B’nai Amoona.