More than an effort to reach an immediate agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, President Trump’s peace plan, “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision To Improve The Lives of The Palestinian and The Israeli People,” is an effort to move the needle. It sees redefine what is known as the “Overton Window” to reflect a more realistic conversation about what is and is not on “the table” in terms of Israeli and Palestinian realities.
With this proposal, “the rules of the game” have changed. The spectrum of negotiation has now shifted. Waiting for Israel somehow to magically disappear, or to be violently destroyed through acts of terrorism and chants of “from the river to the sea,” or to be cowed by international economic pressures meant to sabotage its economy — these fantasies are over, this new proposal suggests.
Another “game changer” is that by virtue of Arab diplomats of Sunni lands sitting in the same room as the Israeli prime minister and a document that, by definition, legitimizes Israel’s right to exist without discussing caveats of 1948 or 1967 boundaries, is nothing short of astonishing. Israel is Israel, be it de facto or by right, is what their participation endorses; the rest is commentary.
That said, the absence of any Palestinian representative is also worth noting. How an agreement meant to be between two parties, without representatives from each of those parties present, is perplexing. Granted, Palestinians time and again have rejected every peace offer, becoming increasingly geopolitically irrelevant.
This new plan is somewhat of a counterpoint to the failure of the 1993 Oslo approach, and sn end to Oslo’s “sacrifices of peace” which, put crudely, amounted to nothing more than an increased body count of innocent Israeli civilians.
That is why I cannot relate to the response of joy and exultation that greeted Trump’s plan among the more right wing Israeli community. Every twist, every turn in diplomatic proposals and negotiations has only proven to be the pretext for Palestinians to increase their violence and terrorism.
The risk of even trying to have the conversation or negotiation sometimes proves to be too painful a price, not to mention the actual Israeli concessions.
I’m shaking for what may come.
To me, the singular fascinating detail in this new plan is the four-year grace period extended to the Palestinians. This clause speaks to the psychological truth of the Palestinian mentality of rejecting every opportunity that comes their way. In the famous words of Abba Eban: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
•The Peel Commission in 1937.
•The 1947 UN Partition Plan.
•The 97% offer from Prime Minister Barak in 2000, rejected by Yasir Arafat.
•The 99% offer from Prime Minister Olmert, brokered in 2008, rejected by Mahmoud Abbas.
And now, here is a pragmatic opportunity for limited sovereignty for the Palestinians, buttressed by staggering economic investment.
With all of its flaws from the Palestinian perspective, they should take it — then work to develop a successful enterprise so it can eventually lead to a strong negotiating position where a demand for full sovereignty might be made. But the Palestinians won’t do it.
There is a famous midrash that illustrates the opposite of a Jewish mentality. Prior to the giving of the Torah to the Israelites, G-d first approached the nations of the world. Each nation rejected the Torah in its seed form of the Ten Commandments on different grounds. Each nation had a reason why the Torah was not a good negotiation, so to speak, why they were not “winning” in the offer given. Only the Israelites accepted the terms of the offer. And so it was. This is the genesis of the Jewish people — their acceptance of an offer that was deemed inferior by every other nation.
It’s pretty clear that Trump’s proposal will be rejected by the Palestinians who perceive it as bad for them. Which only raises the question, what would a good proposal look like? One where Israel regresses to its “Auschwitz borders” of 1967?
Look, it’s not simple. I certainly don’t have the answers or the solutions to this war of attrition that has unjustly gone hand in hand with the founding of modern day Israel. I believe in the autonomy and dignity of people. I believe in dignity for all human beings, with the clear caveat of human beings whose cause is not terrorism or violence.
Right now I just pray that the reaction that followed Oslo won’t be what transpires as a result of this new proposal. Peace can wait. I’ll take no bloodshed.
Copyright Intermountain Jewish News