Where the Trump Administration Should Start on Israeli-Palestinian Peace
President-elect Donald J. Trump said during the campaign that he would “love” to broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Although he has been advised by many experts that a deal may be impossible, can the “master deal-maker” make one?
More than 2,500 years ago, Chinese philosopher Laozi said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” President Trump should take these first steps at the United Nations to facilitate a Mideast peace process:
1. Change the UN definition of a Palestinian refugee. Since time immemorial, refugees have been defined as persons who were personally displaced outside their countries. The problem is eventually reduced as refugees are either resettled, or pass away. This applies to every refugee group, except the Palestinians. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says that every Arab descendant of 1948 refugees is himself also a refugee. By this definition, the UN has exacerbated the problem. In 1950, there were about 750,000 Palestinian refugees; today the number is 5 million and growing. By comparison, 850,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab or Muslim world in 1948, and have not been dependent on anyone for decades.
2. Reform the refugee Camps. Many Palestinian live in squalid camps under the control and jurisdiction of their Arab brethren. There are eight such camps in Gaza, 19 in Judea and Samaria, 13 in Syria, 12 in Lebanon and 10 in Jordan. These Arab countries and governments deny these Palestinians many basic rights and government services, treating them as hostages and pawns to ferment anti-Israel violence and to perpetuate the false hope that one day they will return to their homes under the “right of return.” They do this to divert attention from their corrupt and dictatorial regimes. Arabs and Muslims living in Israel have more rights and freedoms than any other country in the Middle East. Israel is not the problem; it’s the solution.
3. UN-funded textbooks must not demonize Israel and Jews. By controlling the textbooks, Palestinian leaders are poisoning the minds of future generations, inciting them to violence against Israel, and making peace impossible. Furthermore, no UN facility should be used as a staging area for military action, nor as a safe haven for terrorists. During the 2014 Gaza conflict, many of the 88 UNWRA schools were turned into military bases and arms depots, protecting Palestinian terrorists and murderers.
4. A two-state solution has been ingrained in public consciousness, but is a misnomer. What two states is it referring to? The West Bank is controlled by the secular Fatah, while Gaza is controlled by Islamic Hamas. They are bitter enemies. Will it be a two-state or a three-state solution? And even if the Palestinians can get on the same page, how do we know they can actually be a state — given their inability to carry out even the most basic of services.
Donald Trump understands that successful peace negotiations cannot be imposed from the outside, but must be negotiated by the parties themselves. For too long, the Palestinians have avoided direct contact with Israel, preferring to let the Quartet or UN try and squeeze Israel for concessions without having to give up anything in return.
The constant flow of anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, including efforts to erase historical Jewish heritage sites by UNESCO, can only point to one conclusion — that the UN has been a major impediment to peace.
President Trump, with the assistance of his UN ambassador nominee Nikki Haley, has an opportunity to drain the swamp of the United Nations. Changing the UN mindset and culture would be a great first step for peace.
Mitchell Kaye served five terms in the Georgia House of Representatives and led the local elected officials coalition for the Trump Campaign in Georgia.