Deal of the Century of Uncertainty

The air of history may have truly been felt even in the ever changing sands of the Mideast.

In perhaps one of the most sympathetic speeches ever delivered by a US President, the United States recognized virtually all of Israel’s claims.

Despite a slight confusion over an Eastern Jerusalem Palestine capital virtually everything on the Palestinian state was non threatening and sympathetic to the Israeli ear. The Jordan Valley and settlement habitation sites will become part of Sovereign Israel. The Palestinians must renounce terrorism, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, recognize Jerusalem’s new borders, dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad. If they do, in a four year window 30% of the West Bank, in addition to the 40% they have now, will become part of a future Palestine. There will be $50 billion worth of investment. Youth across the region will have hope again. The rallying cry of Jerusalem will be no more with instead the recognition of a liberated Jerusalem open to all faiths being realised. A true utopia.

Except it is unlikely to ever be accepted. At least not by Palestinians. In fact they have already said “no” to what Trump called their “last chance for statehood”. For them to accept the plan would mean severing several past red lines that have led to violence. To recognize a sovereign Jewish country with religious, historical, political, and cultural claims in their midst is against the thought of most Arabs, including the ones with Israeli citizenship. Expecting Palestinians who lack citizenship to do so is even more remote. These are the same Palestinians that cut ties to Washington over the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This plan delves much further and gives much more to the Israeli side on most core issues.

The plan may well have been geared toward the Sunni Arab world, particularly the Gulf states. Several Gulf state ambassadors were present at the speech. Perhaps after seeing Palestinian rejection (but Israeli acceptance), the Gulf states may impose the plan on their Palestinian brethren. It is no secret that many Arab writers are increasingly distant to the Palestinian cause blaming them for the regions ills instead of Israel. It may very well be possible that the plan may speed up Sunni Arab and Israeli entreatment.

As friendly as the plan sounded, Trump is not modern day Cyrus. The plan is a bitter pill to ideological religious zionists. It places Jordan as the protectorate of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, much as it is today; as such, it is unlikely a new Temple will be built under this plan. While Hebron (the Israeli part) and Shiloh will become sovereign Israel, relinquishing such a large part of the biblical heartland will always have its opponents. The most important may be G-d above who commanded us in the Torah (Old Testament) to not give away land given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The plan allows the creation of a peaceful state with its soul chained to external actors. There will not be a Temple under this plan. What there will be is alot of future investment as if truly a real estate mogul carved the plan together. Coincidence?
If G-d is not in the picture, hurrah.

An initial reading of the 50 page proposal presents a technical plan that in theory can be implemented. However, expect a very solid wall of Palestinian resistance. Israel may very well annex parts of the West Bank, especially the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities residing there. If there is any takeaway of the plan it is that 30% of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is recognized as de facto Israeli, including some areas of profound historical and religious significance (ie. Tomb of the Patriarchs). This alone, as Bibi mentioned, is historically significant.

The news has overshadowed the other major news of the day: Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu’s indictment on three charges of Bribery and Breach of Trust. Opposition leader Benny Gantz’s meeting with President Trump is perhaps another sign that, while Bibi may have given an excellent speech, the plan is a joyous escapade for a leader that many Israelis increasingly want to be sidelined. We are not Erdogan’s Turkey, they say, change is healthy for a healthy Israel.

This said, Bibi should be given the credit he deserves. He has stirred the Israeli ship of state to this moment. He may continue, and it may be wise that he have a say considering his key relationships with Trump and Putin and all the fruit it is bringing forth (including the likely release of Naama Issachar from a Russian prison).

However, underneath the surface, change is necessary in Israel. We are not an ordinary country but one that is constantly in the conflagration of greater events. What this plan does is present the prospect of such change

In the near term expect some anger on the Palestinian street. They will not like what they heard coming out of Washington. However the final say may not be theirs to make. The ultimate workings of peace may happen differently than we all expect.

About the Author
Born in Israel but raised in Canada, Gil Lewinsky worked as a journalist in Jewish newspapers including the Jerusalem Post after completing a Masters degree at the Munk School of Global Affairs from the University of Toronto. He also has a LLM in International Law from Lancaster University in the UK. His past topics include a book written about the Status of Gaza under International Law soon after its conquest by Hamas in 2007. He is perhaps best known as one of two people that brought a flock of Jacob Sheep from Canada to Israel in 2016, making history. He currently works as a teacher and public relations professional in Israel.
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