Reports out of London late Thursday quenched the joyful Purim festivities that saw the Jews were celebrating their forefathers’ deliverance from Haman long ago.
The news, which appeared on the Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat suggested that the way US President Donald Trump is building his Middle East peace plan could exact a terrible cost from Israel.
To secure the “deal of the century”, Washington allegedly will offer to recognise a Palestinian state inside Israel’s ancestral, Biblical and historical land, and to recognise some of Jerusalem as the capital of this “Palestine.”
I acknowledge as I write this, that the reports are based on leaks and/or unidentified sources, and that the administration appears to want to deny them. Though I have also noted that it has not emphatically done so as of now.
According to the Times of Israel, the White House dismissed them saying “nobody knows what the plan is” as its formulation is not yet complete.
But the timeline of events leading up to this news (unless it is Fake News), is deeply troubling. There are also elements in the report that lend it substance.
A week ago, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the plan was being finalized and would soon be released.
“I think they’re finishing it up,” she said. “They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side.”
If today’s reports turn out to be true, however, the Trump plan will include the following things that will impact Israel negatively. They are things Israel will hate:
– The US will recognise a State of Palestine (a state that will teach its children to hate Jews, glorify terrorism, cannonise terrorists and work to eradicate the rest of Israel) in part of the ancestral, Biblical and historical homeland of the Jewish people.
– The US will recognise part of Jerusalem as the capital of that Palestinian state.
– The Old City of Jerusalem will be placed under “international protection.”
The Sovereignty Movement in Israel Thursday lambasted the alleged plan as a “regional disaster.”
The Arab side will love the points Israel will hate, but will in turn hate these:
– They will end up with a truncated and de-militarised state.
– Israel will retain control of the Jordan Valley – between the eastern side of this new Palestine and the western edge of the Kingdom of Jordan – which is a de facto Palestinian State already as around 75 percent of its population is comprised of these Arabs.
– They will have to agree to have a truncated and de-militarised state.
– Israel will retain control of the Jordan Valley – positioning the IDF between the eastern side of this new Palestine and the western edge of the Kingdom of Jordan – which is a defacto Palestinian State already as around 70 percent of its population is comprised of these Arabs.
– They will have to give up their demand for “the right of return” for the descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees – which they claim number as many as seven million – to this land from camps and locations throughout the Middle East.
Apparently arrangements are being made to roll out the plan at a Middle East conference hosted by Egypt. Israeli officials will purportedly be there.
Questions causing deep concern, and even alarm:
Is this the quid pro quo President Trump warned earlier he would demand from Israel in exchange for his unilateral recognition of (“West”) Jerusalem as its capital?
And is this why he has suddenly – inexplicably suddenly – brought forward the date for opening an interim embassy in Jerusalem: in order that he might have Israel over a barrel and “owing him” when he calls on her to agree to go along with his plan?
It’s a suspicion that surfaced in my mind when Trump, speaking in a joint meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Davos, Switzerland on January 25, touted the fact that his decision to recognise Jerusalem had taken the US “out into the wilderness” where warnings were that every other country would oppose it. He had nonetheless – against the full weight of global opinion, he emphasized – “taken Jerusalem off the table” and in that way Israel had “won one point” from the American president.
In exchange, he suggested to Netanyahu almost affably (but in my ears ominously) that Israel will also “give up some points” – make some reciprocating concessions.
Back on December 6, 2017, Trump caused an earthquake when he announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his intention to move his embassy there. Administration officials brilliantly defused much of the immediate global outrage by stressing that making such an embassy move would take years, and by pointing out that this recognition was not tantamount to recognising what the borders of Israel’s capital would be.
The embassy, when it opened “in three or four years’ time”, would in any case, they assured, be situated in the western part of the city that had been under Israeli sovereignty up until the Six Day War.
Just over one month after the first announcement – when very little of the Islamic world’s vociferous response had actually materialised – Vice President Mike Pence surprised Israel’s Knesset with the news that the US embassy would be in Jerusalem by the end of 2019.
Three days later, at the above-mentioned Davos event, Trump confirmed that a “small version” of the embassy would be opened in Jerusalem next year. Again it was then that he ‘warned’ that Israel would “owe” him one.
And then this week, less than one month on, the State Department unexpectedly announced that the interim US Embassy will be opening in Jerusalem this May, to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary as a modern state.
This sudden decision fuelled my burgeoning suspicion about just how many “points” Israel might be expected to let Washington offer the Arab side in exchange for the Jerusalem point it had scored.
If Thursday’s reported details of the plan turn out to be true, then it will be a very difficult day for Israel – and a very, very dark day for the United States.
Donald Trump, Israel’s “greatest friend in the White House”, will – in my assessment – be seen to be betraying his friend with a kiss.
One more thing:
I know that mollifiers will say that in the world of diplomacy and realpolitik the Trump plan will naturally include conditions that may seem to disadvantage Israel but which the Palestinian Arabs have vowed they will never agree to; that these will serve as an “escape hatch” for both the Trump administration and Israel.
Such reasoning dangerously does not take two things into account:
1. Islam permits – nay commands – al-taqiyya (the lying to and deceiving of the enemies of Allah by making promises/signing agreements that are never meant to be kept). Yasser Arafat practiced this when he signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993, then immediately told Muslims in a Johannesburg, South Africa mosque (I have the recording) that Mohammed had set the precedent for scrapping peace agreements as soon as his followers were strong enough to destroy their “peace partners.” For all its vows never to accept such conditions, the PLO leadership can readily find a way to do so and explain to its people and the rest of the Muslim world that it is a form of “the despicable agreement” Mohammed signed with Quraish, which was as al-taqiyya.
2. A US declaration of the recognition of “Palestine”, with part of Jerusalem as its capital, cannot be reversed. Once it is said it will be set in stone. America’s recognition will swing the rest of the entire world (almost all of whom already support this position) fully in line with it.
Last word for now: what the apparent “internationalization” of the Old City of Jerusalem will mean is unclear. Crystal clear is that truth that the heart of that Old City, the Temple Mount (which the Bible calls the Mountain of the Lord) is a ticking bomb that will explode any “peace plan” devised by Donald Trump, the UN and EU, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or anybody else.
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance. (Psalm 33:10-12)
This article originally appeared on Jerusalem Watchman, March 1, 2018, and reposted with permission.