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May 29, 2019 7:47 am

Why Trump’s Peace Plan Could Work

avatar by Martin Oliner


US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on June 22, 2018. Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/Flash90.

Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl wrote in his utopian novel Old New Land that when it came to the establishment of a Jewish national home in the land of Israel, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

The book was published in 1902, 46 years before the founding of the State of Israel, when centuries of dreams of Jews around the world came true.

The impressive successes of Israel over the past 71 years undoubtedly surpass the state’s founders’ wildest dreams. But Israel has never enjoyed a moment of true peace, and has been under the microscope of the overly critical international community from day one.

After decades of pressure from the world to make concessions that would endanger Israel’s future, it is understandable that there are those who would doubt that a foreign leader would take genuine steps to improve Israel’s security. But President Donald Trump has consistently proven himself to be different from all of his predecessors and all other leaders around the world, so the peace plan he is expected to announce soon should neither be doubted nor dismissed.

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When Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) chairman Norm Coleman recounted President Trump’s help for Israel at the RJC conference in Las Vegas last month, he did so in a new version of the Passover song “Dayenu.” And indeed, every single monumental step the president made for Israel must be appreciated and celebrated.

Last week, Israel marked the first anniversary of the move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. American administrations promised that step for 25 years before Trump, resisting tremendous pressure, implemented it. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman completed the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act last week when he officially moved his residence to Israel’s capital, which America recognized in December 2017.

The Trump decision about the Middle East that faced the most justified criticism was his announcement last December about removing all American forces from Syria. But the US will be staying in Syria, which earned the praise of Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer at the AIPAC Policy Conference.

“Those soldiers have done a fantastic job at preventing Iran from simply rushing through this whole region with arms and weapons,” he said, adding that the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights “sends a very strong message to the enemies of Israel and to the people of Israel that America stands with Israel.”

When the Jewish state has been attacked by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the Trump administration has defended and enabled Israel’s right to self-defense. Even the atmosphere at the United Nations has finally changed for the better. President Trump has proven himself worthy of the trust of Americans, whose economy has improved since he entered office.

Despite all of that, a Middle East peace plan obviously remains an ambitious endeavor. After all, every American president who has presented a plan for the Middle East has failed miserably. Then again, even though it has not been released yet, it is clear that this plan, like the president, will be different from all of its predecessors. It is new and creative. It does not reward Palestinian rejectionism. It acknowledges that those who call themselves Palestinian are far from cohesive and are far from being a nation. They are many different tribes who have united solely out of hatred for Israel.

The plan is expected to give more control to local leaders of hamulot, or tribes. The significant differences between the Arabs of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be acknowledged, and both will be greatly assisted economically. Importantly, the plan is set to call for the evacuation of no one from their home, and the entire basis of discussion about the Jews who settled their Biblical homeland in Judea and Samaria will change.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted to the Senate last month that the plan would not call for a two-state solution, saying that “the old set of ideas aren’t worth retreading.” Because most analysts think peace in the short term is not possible, it is time to ditch the two-state solution as a means of achieving a lasting peace.

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt has said repeatedly that the plan will focus on ensuring Israeli security, which is a welcome development after suicide bombers, shootings, stabbings, car rammings, terror tunnels, rockets, mortars, kites, and other incendiary devices.

The regional approach to solving the conflict can be beneficial for both Israel and for Arab countries which can benefit from the Jewish state’s innovation and economic prosperity. Countries weaning themselves off their dependency on oil can learn how Israel made the desert bloom.

It may all sound like a dream now, but Herzl was also doubted.

If this plan is willed — and it should be — it is no dream.

Martin Oliner is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity, and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. [email protected]

A version of this article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.

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