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February 18, 2020 7:26 am

Elections Will Determine Whether Israel Seizes or Squanders a Historic Opportunity

avatar by Benjamin Netanyahu / JNS.org

Opinion

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference to announce a new Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, January 28, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts.

JNS.org – The “deal of the century” presented by my friend, US President Donald Trump, offers the State of Israel a historic opportunity that won’t return: to protect and defend our country, determine our borders, and ensure our future. We must do all we can to capitalize on this opportunity and not squander it.

Ever since the plan was revealed two weeks ago, many things have been said and written in the media to distort it. Here are the facts to counter the false claims:

Claim one: Trump’s peace plan won’t lead to the application of Israeli law in the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.

Fact: It will do just that! For the first time since the establishment of the state, the deal of the century will grant American recognition of our sovereignty over these regions of our homeland. This is the realization of the Zionist vision.

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As US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained, the application of Israeli law in these territories requires the completion of the mapping process by the joint American-Israeli committee because we must map out the 800-kilometer (498-mile) line, which will encompass the area where Israeli sovereignty will be applied. We will finish this process as quickly as possible.

I reject the claim that President Trump won’t keep his word. He promised to exit the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran and followed through. He promised to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and followed through. He promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and followed through. He promised to recognize our sovereignty on the Golan Heights and followed through.

On the matter of sovereignty in our homeland, he will follow through. Together with President Trump, I will apply Israeli law in all our communities in Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and additional large swathes.

Claim two: Trump’s peace plan creates a Palestinian state that supports terror.

Fact: The plan does the exact opposite. It imposes strict and rigid conditions on the Palestinians in exchange for a future deal. Among other things, the plan requires Palestinian society to fundamentally change and become a democratic entity.

Israel and the United States will determine whether the Palestinians are fulfilling these conditions, of which there are many. To enter negotiations, the Palestinians must do the following:

  • Immediately cease all “salary” payments to terrorists and their families.
  • Halt all efforts to join international organizations without Israel’s approval.
  • Pull their lawsuits against Israel at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

All these are preconditions the Palestinians must meet just to enter diplomatic talks. To conclude such negotiations, they must fulfill each of the following conditions:

  • Recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Recognize a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
  • Agree to Israeli security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River — on land, at sea, and in the air.
  • Cease any and all incitement against Israel, including in school textbooks and curricula, and in all Palestinian Authority institutions.
  • Completely demilitarize Gaza and the entire Palestinian population.
  • Completely cede the “right of return.”
  • Disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations.
  • Hold free elections, safeguard freedom of the press, protect human rights, protect freedom of religion, and grant equal rights to religious minorities.

And again, Israel and the United States will be the ones to determine whether the Palestinians have indeed met these conditions before finalizing an accord even becomes possible. Moreover, if after the signing of such an accord the Palestinians fail to meet their security conditions, Israel will be able to reverse the processes outlined by the accord.

Claim three: This peace plan isn’t different from past initiatives.

Fact: Not true! This is the friendliest plan towards Israel ever proposed. It is a historic turn of events for the future of our people. For the first time, Trump’s plan is doing the exact opposite of previous diplomatic proposals.

Instead of demanding concrete “gestures” from Israel (such as the release of terrorists and construction freezes in our communities) just to begin talks, without demanding anything of the Palestinians — this plan is a complete reversal. Irrespective of Palestinian acceptance or rejection, we are getting American recognition over parts of our homeland, while the Palestinians must make considerable concessions just to enter talks!

Earlier diplomatic plans were predicated on the warped view that Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the Jordan Valley are all “occupied” lands that need to be negotiated. For the first time, an American administration is proposing a plan that recognizes the historical bond and our national rights in the Land of Israel, our biblical and ancestral homeland.

The plan even calls for the establishment of an international mechanism to resolve the issue of Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab and Muslim countries. It calls on Arab countries to terminate anti-Israel initiatives in the United Nations and other international bodies.

Claim four: The deal of the century won’t truly impact Israeli citizens.

Fact: This plan will dramatically affect every single citizen in Israel. The safety of Israelis everywhere, especially in the main cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Petach Tikvah, Netanya, Rishon Letzion, and others depends on us maintaining security control in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

The deal of the century ensures this. It will eliminate the prospect of missile attacks on Israeli cities and Ben-Gurion International Airport from the hills of Judea and Samaria. The US plan deals with more than just applying Israeli law in our homeland. It is a historic moment of defining our identities and ensuring the future of our homeland. This is our heritage, the essence of our culture, the deep biblical link between our people and the Land of Israel.

The choice we make in the coming weeks will define our nation forever. After 11 years of working against previous American administrations’ policy of withdrawals and uprooting, after three years of working closely with President Trump and his team, we finally have the opportunity to bolster our security, determine our borders, and ensure our future.

Claim five: The upcoming elections won’t affect the deal of the century.

Fact: These elections will determine whether Israel seizes or squanders a historic opportunity. I will implement the deal of the century. Our political adversaries will implement the “miss of the century.” For the sake of realizing the historic opportunity, for the sake of the Land of Israel, we must not miss this moment.

Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel. 

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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