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The man who incited now rejoices

Those who called Rabin a traitor for his peace initiative now cheer one that's similar - except that this one is doomed to failure

The festivities surrounding the deal of the century are now in high gear. Bibi and Trump are standing at the center, flashing victorious smiles in every direction. However, an important fact has escaped our attention amid this raucous event: the leaders of the Arab countries, who were supposed to be central participants in this celebration, were not even invited. The deal of the century took on shape and form above their heads, and they are not going to look kindly on that. Serious repercussions are going to ensue.

Genius or Treason?

In order to gain a sense of the true severity of the situation, we need to go back in time to October 1995. The late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, presented to the Knesset a plan for a political process that, at the end of a five year period, would become a permanent status arrangement, similar to the plan that Trump has now presented.

The harsh reactions that Rabin endured after he presented that plan are chafing to any ethical person in the modern era. One of the reactions that stood out in particular because of its extremism was the procession that Netanyahu marched at the head of, with a mock coffin being carried behind him bearing Rabin’s name. That symbolic coffin became a real coffin just three weeks later, when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Now the people who pelted Rabin with stones, branded him a traitor and repudiated the proposal that he put forward, are cheering a plan that looks like it was drafted by the same author, attributing it to Netanyahu and describing him as a genius.

However, despite the similarities between the two partition maps, there are several substantive differences between the two plans, differences that appear not to be to our benefit.

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during their joint press conference, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Benjamin D. Applebaum)

The first difference is the attitude to the Negev. Bibi absurdly compared himself to Ben Gurion, and Trump to President Truman. Ben Gurion must certainly be turning in his grave to hear that comparison, especially since the current plan includes concessions over large swaths of the Negev, which was the apple of Ben Gurion’s eye. The practical impact of a concession over those areas is that it brings the Palestinian border closer to the Sde Boker area.

Negotiations in the Absence of One of the Parties

A second substantive difference is the manner in which the plan is to be implemented. Rabin’s plan was drafted with an eye to the Palestinian people and the Arab countries, and it was subsequently supposed to receive the approval of the United States and the United Nations. Today the negotiations are being conducted without the Arab countries, and the bedrock of our relations with them is gradually crumbling, making it very hard to lay foundations on that bedrock.

One indication of this deterioration could be found in the Jordanian king’s decision to restore Naharayim and Tzofar to Jordanian sovereignty once the lease of those territories to Israel as defined by the stipulations of the peace treaty with Jordan expired. Those territories would probably have remained in our possession had Netanyahu followed in the footsteps of the prime minister who signed for them to begin with. The deterioration of our relations with Jordan is liable to gain momentum and to be damaging to Israel from an intelligence and security standpoint.

Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat at the White House, 1993

In recent years our relations with the Palestinians have been simmering like lava beneath the surface, and they are likely to soon erupt. Meanwhile, Bibi has been doing business behind the scenes with Hamas, and has opened the door to Qatar to hand out cash that is used to help that terror organization arm itself. In return, the residents of the Gaza periphery communities have sustained some 2,000 rockets every year with no response.

In the very same period of time, roughly 530 terror attacks were averted last year thanks to the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. How are Trump and Bibi’s unilateral actions going to be perceived by the Palestinians? And how will they impact their willingness to cooperate with Israel?

The Deal of the Century Reflects and Compounds a Serious Situation

One need not be a celebrated analyst to understand the severity of the situation that this deal is going to produce. The Palestinian people will not be willing to negotiate the terms of an agreement if Jordan, Egypt and the moderate Sunni countries are not at the table as well. After all, this is an agreement between us and the Arab countries, not between us and the US administration. Unilateral discussions about annexing territories will only lead to chaos.

I had hoped we might be able to welcome this plan, which is a direct continuation of Rabin’s legacy. Regrettably, it has not been implemented the way Rabin planned to execute his plan, and the likely result is that not only will we not be graced with peace, but we will find ourselves heading into a binational state, in which we will live for eternity with three million Palestinians.

About the Author
Shimon Sheves was General Director of the Prime Minister's office under the late Yizhak Rabin. He is currently the Founder and Chairman of HolistiCyber, which provides nation-state level cyber security solution.
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