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A single clause at the end of the Trump Administration’s Peace Plan released last Monday seems to highlight an unspoken understanding that there is unlikely to ever be long lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
It states, “The State of Israel will maintain the right to dismantle and destroy any facility in the State of Palestine that is used for the production of prohibited weapons or for other hostile purposes… the State of Israel will retain the right to engage in necessary security measures to ensure that the State of Palestine remains demilitarized and non-threatening to the State of Israel, including from terrorist threats.”
If the Trump Administration were certain that this would be the Deal to end all deals, why did his Middle East Envoy add that Israel reserves the right to destroy weapon manufacturing facilities and hostile sites in the future State of Palestine?
The Associated Press has asserted in its coverage that the Peace Deal favors Israel. Putting aside the fact that the Plan is only to serve as a basis for negotiations between the two parties, it is undeniably true that the Plan contains many provisions that would be a nightmare for Israel’s security
For example, in order to connect Palestinian areas in Judea and Samaria to the Gaza Strip, tunnels would be built under Israel Proper. Over the past few years Israel has worked very hard to destroy terror tunnels built by Hamas that ran from Gaza into Israel. Now, the Trump Administration proposes to build a tunnel that runs further into Israeli territory and that could potentially be misused for kidnappings and violence.
Another security issue is that the Plan proposes to open up trade between the future State of Palestine and Lebanon, where Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah dominates the government. Iran would likely use this opening to supply illegal weaponry. That inevitability would seem to clash with the Trump Administration’s vision of a demilitarized State of Palestine.
What is also dangerous about Trump’s Peace Plan is that it carries a connotation that Israel’s empowered position will always be as is, and that Israel can afford to boost their enemies’ political status into statehood and maintain its safety at the same time. But recent history warns that the belief that Israel is invincible or safe and stable is an illusion.
Israel’s history since its founding in 1948 is not just of progress and victories, but the appearance of same followed by the shattering of naivete. For example, during some points in its early years, especially true after Israel won a war in six days in 1967, the country appeared to be invincible. But when Israel nearly lost the Yom Kippur War of 1973 it correctly remembered how truly vulnerable it is. Moreover, progress seemed to be occurring when Ehud Barak shook Yasser Arafat’s hand at Camp David. No one expected Arafat to end the talks abruptly and then incite his people to blow themselves up in busses, nightclubs, pizza stores, and ice cream parlors in order to kill Israeli civilians. This bloodbath became known as the Second Intifada. Thousands were killed, and thousands more lost body parts, were permanently maimed, and had long lasting psychological trauma.
Following the Intifada, the Israeli government seized on another moment to show itself as a willing partner in peace. In 2005, it sent in its own military to remove thousands of Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip. It was not known at the time that this move would pave the way for what would ultimately become an expansive missile launch pad in the Gaza Strip that would be frequently used against Israel.
Until the present time, Israel continues to grapple with the consequences stemming from this concession.
For the last 15 years, thousands of rockets with increasing sophistication and range have terrorized Israeli communities. To cope with the madness wrought by an unpredictable rain of war crimes sent its way, Israel has funded bomb shelters in the homes of its citizens living in vulnerable areas. They also developed the Iron Dome, a missile defense system that intercepts rocket fire midair before it can harm people and destroy property.
True, Israel is capable of developing strategies for its defense when new hostilities, but the Jewish State deserves to simply exist without being pushed into more booby traps in which it is forced to find new ways to protect itself.
Palestinians walked away from peace long ago, if not from the very beginning. After all, a two state solution strongly in favor of the Palestinians was offered in 1947, but this partition plan was rejected. Unsatisfied, Palestinians opted to start a war in order to conquer the Jewish portion for themselves. Also rejected were deals in observance of UN Security Council resolutions, that edged close to the Palestinian demands, and those that went so far as to demand the liquidation of Jewish areas so it can be handed over to Palestinians. This policy of rejectionism irked President Bill Clinton during the Camp David peace talks to a point where he apparently said at Camp David, “What the hell is this?”
Indeed, there simply is no peace to be made with the Palestinians simply because their leaders do not want peace.
That is, if peace includes the existence of the State of Israel.
Regardless of this, It’s time that Netanyahu, or whomever the next prime minister of Israel will be, forget about how it is perceived to the world and focus on what is good for Israelis. The historic moment should not be showing support for a deal that endangers Israel, but the turning point when Israel says “enough is enough” and walks away with dignity and pride.