No Trump Card for the Middle East

“Trump is unpredictable—–When it comes to Donald Trump, everything seems to be possible.” [The Jerusalem Report, December 12, 2016]

It was with much satisfaction to read, “New Knesset Lobby Unveils Plan for Peace: Total Palestinian Surrender” on July 11, authored by Andrew Tobin, which appeared in the Blogger’s section of the Times of Israel, Since the article followed Trump’s historic visit to Israel and subsequently, the visit of two of his diplomats assigned to the region, it was particularly meaningful.

Andrew Tobin commences his piece with , “Israel has already defeated the Palestinians. All that’s left is for them to surrender.”His remark is based on the argument being made by the visiting Philadelphia based group designated as the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum gathered in Israel to highlight local support for their aim of re framing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict internationally.

Daniel Pipes who is leading the named Forum, is a historian, a former official in the US departments of State and Defense, who has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Pepperdine and at the US Naval War College. He is the author of twelve books including the notable “Nothing Abides, Perspectives on the Middle East and Islam”; and writes a bi-weekly column for the Washington Times, the National Review and other publications.

The purpose of the visit was primarily to launch a Knesset lobby committee to have the Palestinians admit defeat. In this, it was his hope that the Knesset t Victory Caucus and a public opinion poll which he had released would sufficiently convince US policymakers to “let Israel win.”

Through his December 2016 Commentary issue article, Pipes conveyed certain items he felt might “encourage Palestinians to accept Israel and discourage rejection-ism.”They included:

[a] Levying a fee to have the PA accountable for the damages caused by terrorism.
[b] Blocking PA Officials from returning to the West Bank if their colleagues persisted in their acts of violence.
[c] Virtually silent anonymous burials of Palestinians killed as a result of attacks on Israelis.
[d] Shutting off ware and electricity supplies by way of punishment for Palestinian violence.

Pipes has observed that wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair to the point of abandoning its war aims and accepts defeat; and when that defeat has exhausted the will to fight.

At the Begin Heritage Center meeting , American and British speakers took the stage on-by-one to advocate a zero-sum vision of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Zionist project was to build Israel. The Palestinian national purpose was to destroy Israel.. Only one side could win, and it had been Israel.”

Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, believes that the international community is a major factor since it actions continue to encourage aggression against Israel. MK Yehuda Glick, an Orthodox Jewish activist and Knesset member for the ruling Likud Party, argued that Israel was responsible for its own destiny. By making itself “a light unto the nations, “ Israel would bring “shalom [peace] upon the region and the world.”

The Knesset Victory Caucus will be co-chaired by lawmakers MK Oded Forer, from the hawkish Yisrael Beytenu political party and MKYaakov Peri, a former head of Isreel’s Security Agency from the centrist Yesh Atid. A total of six Knesset members have so far joined the caucus.

Yet another Times Of Israel Blogger, Brigadier-General Amir Aviv having served in numerous consequential IDF positions including at one time serving in the Israeli Government and Defense establishment at the heart of the policy-making process is clearly well qualified to contribute to the subject matter. His “Trump and the new state solution” of May 20, 2017. His introductory remark that there is a growing nucleus of former, senior Israeli security officials, such as himself, who are hopeful that the “traditional call to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza , will finally be acknowledged as deeply flawed, and out of touch with reality” provides us with much needed optimism.

After analyzing the facts on the ground, belief in conflict resolution by 1967 Green Line border adjustment and ignoring the past history over 100 years, how can one visualize an eternal peace? There are two million hate filled people in Gaza, closed in on all sides., while Hamas attacks whenever possible, digs tunnels, builds rockets and promotes its agenda to destroy Israel.

Despite the fact that the IDF enjoys full freedom of movement to make nightly arrests, Israel still experiences regular acts of terrorism. Aviv asks the question, “What would things be liked if Israeli’s freedom of operation in the area were to be curtailed?” and answers, “One need look no further than what happened in Gaza after Israel’s withdrawal—.”He postulates about the results of the incorporation of the traditional two state model – Israeli’s would experience a heavy attack while the Palestinians would disintegrate into violent anarchy. The danger s posed by withdrawal are too immense to contemplate.

Amir Aviv proposes a Palestinian state having territorial continuity linked to Gaza in the norther part of the Sinai Peninsula, along the coastal area. It would offer Egypt real assistance and would require an Egyptian-Israeli-American initiative to topple Hamas in Gaza to assure realism. Ultimately, the New State Solution would still result in two states for two peoples living side by side in security. One recalls that the President of Egypt offered the PA land in the Sinai in the past.

Israel”s New State would, in fact include what constituted biblical Israel. Palestinians could move from the West Bank to the Sinai State, or remain as Israeli citizens in the New State. Their areas would fall under Israeli control i.e. the New State.

There is every reason to believe that were the ideas which appear in the foregoing presented to Donald Trump, he would consider them. Since it was the Arab League who was responsible for the mess which has resulted in the Middle East and specifically Palestine, if they are truly seeking peace, they need to demonstrate a willingness to entertain new ideas invoking history and international law:

Now, Trump’s plans to include various Arab states in homecoming negotiations does constitute a difference from the past does represent a difference. However, it appears to be the only difference. At Trump’s initial meeting with Abbas at the White House, the latter openly declared his demands for 1967 borders, East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, the issue of refugees and “the prisoners”. He also stated that his were “the only remaining people in the world that still live under occupation”. He further remarked on “raising our children, youth, grandchildren on a culture of peace.” We are given to believe that the Koran permits lying under certain circumstances. Apparently Abbas’s level of piety makes possible these outlandish lies.

As Trump can so readily shift positions in a short period of time, we are reminded of an old saying; “one who is so sure of himself is bound to be suspect.”He seems to think now that he can apply the same formula as has been applied so often in the past,and failed, but for one difference and succeed, can only be described as blatant arrogance and ignorance. If he knew any history of the British experience in dealing with what they termed “wily oriental gentlemen”, he would not proceed with the old and failed process.

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, as the representative of Balfour’s Foreign office in Palestine found himself “alone out here among gentiles, in upholding Zionism. In his words, “We cannot befriend both Arab and Jew. My proposal is based on befriending the people who are more likely to be loyal friends – the Jews—-Though we have done much for the Arabs, they do not know the meaning of gratitude; moreover they would be a liability; the Jew would be an asset—-The Jews have moreover proved their fighting qualities since the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. The Arab is a poor fighter, though an adept at looting, sabotage and murder—-[mine] is a proposal to make our position in the Middle East more secure.” He adds to this, “—-the Jews can be relied on to keep agreements, the Arabs can never be relied on—With British bases in Palestine our position in the Middle East is secure forever.”[A Place Among the Nations P55-56].

Does Trump realize that the Palestinians have been offered on no less than 5different occasions? Consider:

1936 Peel Commission viewed the claims of both Arabs and Jews for the same land and decided on partition with 80% in favor of the Arabs. The Jews accepted this while the Arabs rejected it.

1947 [November] The UN decided on partition – Jews accepted, Arab rejected – resulted in an all out war with Jordan occupying the West Bank and Egypt occupying Gaza, many deaths as a consequence.

1967: 6 Day War – great victory for Israel resulted in regaining the West Bank and Gaza. At the conclusion of hostilities, the Arab League met in Khartoum where they proclaimed the infamous 3 No’s – no peace, no negotiations, no recognition of Israel.

2000 Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians 94% of the West Bank and all Gaza for peace, only to be greeted with rejections and a huge escalation in suicide bombings.

2008 Ehud Olmert repeated the 2000 year offer in addition to land swaps. This too was rejected outright and an escalation in terrorism.

In 2005, Sharon orchestrated the Gaza withdrawal, only to have Israel face a barrage of rockets.

The question to be put to Trump is simply why should Israel forget the past and accept a 2nd Hamastan?
Why not consider the many other vastly credible and acceptable options?

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
Comments