The Palestinians’ Bluff Has Been Called
JNS.org – Donald Trump’s Middle East “deal of the century” offers the Palestinians a state. They have rejected it and threatened instead to ramp up violence against Israel. No one can be surprised. They have rejected every offer of a state previously made to them in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008, and 2014.
So is this latest deal anything more than Groundhog Day for the Middle East all over again? Yes, because this isn’t a deal. It’s an ultimatum.
Israel intends to enact its part in the plan unilaterally by declaring sovereignty over the Israeli settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley. The big change is that despite the subsequent crossed wires over timing, the United States will accept this.
That’s because this isn’t a “peace process” in which both sides must progress in tandem with each other — a process that gave the Palestinians an effective veto even while they continued to wage their war of extermination against Israel.
For the first time, here’s an American plan that puts the security of Israel first and foremost. It’s therefore the first time that the United States has unequivocally supported Israel’s future existence. For if a country cannot defend itself against enemies sworn to liquidate it, that country can’t survive. Yet until now, even US administrations supposedly sympathetic to Israel imposed upon it requirements that undermined its security and defense against attack.
Other supposed allies, such as Britain or the European Union, have also paid mere lip service to Israel while denying the validity of its claim to the disputed territories in Judea and Samaria. Yet its claim to these territories is legal many times over, both under international laws of self-defense and through the international community’s decision in the 1920s to designate the whole of Palestine as the homeland of the Jews alone.
By denying Israel’s right to all the land, Britain and the rest of the West have effectively undermined the Jews’ entitlement to any of it. The Trump plan has now swept aside that appeasement of evil, started by the British in the 1930s, and which has been pursued by the American and Western foreign-policy establishment ever since.
Yet this proposal is far from being one-sided. On the contrary, it generously provides the Palestinians with a route to a state of their own consisting of most of the disputed territories (with sovereignty less limited than the conditions imposed by the allies on Germany after World War II). It is a highly detailed map for a two-state solution.
This has produced cries of dismay from Israelis for whom a Palestine state is anathema, and who view this as yet another reward being dangled for continued Palestinian terrorism and war. But this reward is entirely conditional upon the Palestinians giving up the very thing which forms their identity and without which they are nothing: their aim to liquidate the State of Israel.
Trump is telling the Palestinians to suck this up — or lose, because the Israelis are going to get what they need to survive regardless. Jared Kushner, one of the architects of this plan, says it’s the Palestinians’ last opportunity for a state. But this assumes they want a state — which, of course, they don’t. That demand has always been a ruse to destroy Israel.
That’s why the Palestinians have always refused previous offers of a state and turned to violence instead, whereupon Israel has been pressured to offer them still more concessions. And that’s why the “peace process” has been in fact an engine of perpetual conflict.
Now the Palestinians’ bluff has been called. Once again, they are responding with threats of more violence, because there are no circumstances in which they will ever accept the right of the Jews to their own ancestral homeland. Increasingly shunned by the Arab world, their one hope of keeping alive this war of extermination lies in the support they continue to receive from the liberal West: Britain, the EU, and increasing numbers of US Democrats.
They robotically pump out the lies that the Palestinians tell: The lie that they, and not the Jews, are the indigenous people of the land. The lie that Israel illegally occupies that land. The lie that the Israelis oppress and persecute the Palestinians, whose only crime is to want their own state and whose claim to the land must therefore be given at least the same status as that of Israel.
The morally bankrupt equivalence between victim and aggressor has kept this war going. It has now been repudiated by the Trump peace plan.
But the war of extermination against Israel will stop only if the rest of the West now ends its tacit support for it.
It will end only if the West stops funding it and instead makes all aid to the Palestinians conditional on ending their institutionalized incitement to violence against Jews, the salaries they pay the families of those who murder Israelis, and their glorification of terrorism.
It will end only if the “human rights” community that wages “lawfare” against Israel is now exposed as the sham that it is for hijacking the language, eviscerating the concepts of law and justice, and grotesquely turning “human rights” into murderous wrongs.
Perhaps the Trump plan’s most important achievement is to put on record the truth about the Jews’ unique rights to the land of Israel. As it states, the areas that Israel is being asked to yield to the Palestinians nevertheless constitute “territory to which Israel has asserted valid legal and historical claims, and which are part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.”
As for the loud protests that Israel is being allowed to “annex the West Bank,” professor of international law Eugene Kontorovich has tweeted that the United States is not proposing to recognize Israeli annexation of the territory: “It is recognizing that Israel has always had a legitimate claim on this land.” In other words, the application of Israeli sovereignty is to be based on its preexisting rights to the land.
The most intractable element of these preexisting Jewish rights is Jerusalem, which Israel will never allow to be divided again but to which the Palestinians lay claim as their state’s intended capital. The plan audaciously resolves this apparently insoluble conundrum by stating that the Palestine capital should be located “in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier,” including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and which could be named Al Quds.
In other words, the Trump team has simply redefined Jerusalem to exclude those Arab areas of the city beyond the security barrier. This would enable the Palestinians to tell themselves their capital is Jerusalem, while Israel will have ceased to regard that area as Jerusalem at all. Of course, the Palestinians would never agree to this. “Al Quds” to them centers on their illegitimate appropriation of the Temple Mount — the most sacred site in Judaism.
But the plan states the all-important historical truth denied by the Palestinians because it vitiates their entire claim to the land — that Jerusalem was the political center of the Jewish people under King David, and has remained their spiritual center and the focus of their religious beliefs for nearly 3,000 years.
The Trump plan won’t bring peace; however, it restores the truth and justice that are essential prerequisites of peace. Crushing the lethal and poisonous fantasies about Israel and the Jewish people, as well as taking a hard-headed approach to Palestinian intentions, it replaces illusions with reality.
That’s no small achievement. Now it’s up to the rest of the world.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir Guardian Angel has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel The Legacy in 2018. Her work can be found at www.melaniephillips.com.