Thursday, January 30, 2020

From Ian:

Breaking the 'everybody knows paradigm'
In the immediate and intermediate future, the detailed plan and map put forward by President Trump will be rejected out of hand by the Palestinian leadership. For them it is indeed "dead on arrival." Both Fatah and Hamas joined the choir of condemnation. Some violence may ensue, although Mahmud 'Abbas speaks of "popular" rather than terrorist pressure. And yet the plan is of great importance, for the future of the Palestinians as well as for Israel: it is an experiment in breaking the bonds of past perceptions and offering both sides from the opportunity to shake off the effects of their illusions.

Israelis who thought that there was a "free trump lunch" are being disabused of the expectation that he will herald a messianic era, in which all will be given to us and none to the Palestinians. There is nothing to validate the claim, made by some, that a firm Israeli stand would have secured American consent for a total annexation. Trump sees himself as a deal maker – not as an Israeli enforcer.

On the Palestinian side, the problem runs deeper. For years, specifically since the Annapolis process and even more so since the days of the Obama Administration, they have built up expectations based on what may be called the "EKP" – "Everybody Knows" Paradigm. The latter is focused mainly on the territorial dimension: A full return to the 1967 Armistice lines with minor swaps and a partition of Jerusalem, alongside some (symbolic?) concessions on the Right of Return, etc.

"Everybody" – except the broad range of Israelis who find the EKP objectionable and impractical. Well beyond the settler communities and the vocal minority who reject any concessions to the Palestinians, many Israelis find fault with the ideas enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2334 for several good reasons:
1. To begin with, the great majority of Israelis feel strongly that Jerusalem must remain Israel's undivided capital – give or take some of the outlying neighborhoods beyond the security barrier.
2. Moreover, the idea of another round of violent displacement of tens of thousands of Jews, from their homes in their homeland, raises traumatic memories of the sad summer of 2005 and the disengagement from Gaza.
3. The notion that Israel will be safe, even without a permanent military presence on the Jordan river and firm control of our eastern approaches, became less and less persuasive as chaotic events engulfed the entire region and the danger of destabilization became more acute.
4. Moreover, the experience in Lebanon since 2006 provided proof positive that it would be a deadly mistake to rely on some UN-mandated foreign military forces in the Jordan Valley (or elsewhere): UNIFIL's record in apprehending Hizbullah weapons or curbing Hizbullah's huge arsenal is outright dismal.

Thus, those in Europe, in American progressive circles, and among the Israeli Left who still advocate acceptance of the EKP (rather than the Trump baseline) are actually doing the Palestinians no favor. They help lock the leadership in Ramallah, and the Palestinian political class, into a set of specific expectations that cannot be delivered upon: and thus perpetuate a deadlock they may be of use to 'Abbas or to Hamas but does little to ameliorate the conditions of people in the West Bank or in Gaza.
The Ben Shapiro Show: The First Real Peace Plan (3:30 to 36min)

Ian Bremmer: How the Trump Administration's Israel-Palestine Peace Plan Will Change the Middle East
This plan isn’t just about Israeli-Palestine. It’s central to the administration’s Middle East strategy. For decades, the international consensus has been that peace cannot blossom in the region unless the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is addressed first. But as the conflict becomes more marginal to the interests of key actors, and the U.S. has generally become less interested, that’s no longer true. Arab-Israeli normalization is only a matter of time, and the Palestinians are at risk of missing that train.

This peace plan is directly connected to the current political situation in both Israel and the U.S. Although U.S. officials insist they’re not taking sides in the Israeli elections slated for March 2, the timing of the plan’s release is useful for Netanyahu, who was indicted today on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of public trust. Given Netanyahu’s troubles (and the likely prospect that he’s not Prime Minister for much longer), the administration was committed to bringing Gantz on board with the plan as well. Kushner told me: “It’s good to see how two competitors in the Israel elections can put aside their differences to promote the interests of their country ahead of their political interests.” That wasn’t the Gantz’s initial position—he first publicly objected to the release of the plan before the election; after weeks of diplomacy he reversed his position and expressed support. Meanwhile, while Netanyahu will receive receive a temporary boost, he will have trouble guarding his right flank. The far-right parties on which he relies for political survival will decry his endorsement of a Palestinian state, whatever else the plan says.

Meanwhile, from the US side, the Middle East peace plan will further energize Trump’s base. Already this year, Trump has secured a “Phase One” trade deal with China, killed a prominent Iranian general, and proposed a fix to one of the most intractable political problems in history with the full support of Israeli leaders. Tomorrow, he will sign a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. This is significant counter-programming to the Democratic Party’s Iowa Caucus and the impeachment hearings in the Senate.

We should consider the release of this plan the end of the beginning of the Trump peace plan. The administration told me they consider it an opening bid. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger told me that he thought the plan was “a responsible first stage and broader approach to the world’s most intractable geopolitical issue.” Whether this bid draws a constructive counter-offer and longer bargaining process plan will depends on a new set of factors in the region, ultimately determining whether (and which) Palestinians will engage. The ball’s heading to their court, whether they want it or not.
Bret Stephens (NYTs): Every Time Palestinians Say "No," They Lose
Nobody will benefit less from a curt dismissal of the U.S. peace plan than the Palestinians themselves, whose leaders are again letting history pass them by. Nearly every time the Arab side said "no," it wound up with less. That was true after it rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which would have created a Palestinian state on a much larger footprint. It was true in 1967, after Jordan refused Israel's entreaties not to attack, which resulted in the end of Jordanian rule in the West Bank.

It was true in 2000, when Syria rejected an Israeli offer to return the Golan Heights, which ultimately led to U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty of that territory. It was true later the same year, after Yasir Arafat refused Israel's offer of a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem.

The U.S. plan offers Palestinians a sovereign state, mostly contiguous territory, and $50 billion in economic assistance. What it demands is an end to anti-Jewish bigotry in school curriculums, the restoration of legitimate political authority in Gaza, and the dismantling of terrorist militias.

The Jewish state has thrived in part because it has always been prepared to make do with less. The Palestinian tragedy has been the direct result of taking the opposite approach: of insisting on the maximum rather than working toward the plausible.

Kushner slams Palestinian leadership, urges giving up ‘fairy tales’ for peace
US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday launched scathing attacks against the Palestinian leadership, which he said has lied to the Palestinian public for years by promising them “fairy tales” that cannot be achieved.

In media interviews Kushner gave to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeera network and US broadcaster CNN, he answered questions about the Trump administration’s peace plan, which was released earlier in the day, and which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to.

The plan does not include some key demands by Palestinians, such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem being part of their capital, the return of Palestinian refugees to live in Israel, and the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It also allows for broad Israeli annexation moves. It provides for a future Palestinian subject to a series of conditions and limitations, with Israel retaining overall security control of the area.

“It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen,” Kushner told Al Jazeera.

“The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,” he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.”
Kushner: ‘Palestinians’ Will Likely Botch Chance for Statehood, But Israel Shouldn’t Start Annexing
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner offered a realistic assessment of the “Palestinian” leadership’s track record in achieving statehood over the past century, and suggested they are likely to botch this opportunity as well.

“You have 5 million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity — which again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities — if they screw this up, I think they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them. If they come to the table and negotiate I think they can get something excellent …”

At the same time, in an interview with GZERO (Kushner on Israeli annexation plans: not now), Jared Kushner said that while the Trump administration clearly supports annexation, it also wants Israel to wait until after the upcoming Israeli election to move ahead with any annexation plans.

Walking back his father-in-law’s invitation for Israel to impose its sovereignty on its share of Judea and Samaria, which was followed by an outright urging by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (Ambassador Friedman: Go Annex Those Settlements, What Are You Waiting For?), Kushner now talks about setting up a committee to decide exactly when Israel may legalize its communities in the 1967 liberated territories.

Pompeo: If Palestinians unhappy with plan, they should present ‘counter offer’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Palestinians who rejected President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan to come up with a “counter-offer” that could win Israeli support, as he headed to Britain on a five-nation tour.

Palestinian leaders were “free to come up with a counter offer if that’s what they think is appropriate,” Pompeo told reporters traveling with him. “I know the Israelis would be prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of the vision that the president laid out,” he said.

The Palestinians reacted angrily to Trump’s plan after it was announced Tuesday and many critics called it unrealistic. It reportedly included no Palestinian input and grants Israel much of what it has sought in decades of international diplomacy

Pompeo said the misgivings were coming from “the same critics who have failed for 70 years.”

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news, Pompeo said the Palestinians had a clear path to statehood under the plan: “It grants the Palestinians a state that’s conditional on some really simple things, right, like stopping terrorism, acknowledging Israel as the Jewish state,” he said. “These are basic things for peace and prosperity in the region.”
Jonathan Tobin: Time for the architects of Middle East failures to be quiet
Aside from seeming to be rooting for another bloody intifada, a dispassionate examination of their record undermines trust in their expertise.

Miller, who is currently a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, served as Middle East peace processor in the U.S. State Department from 1978 to 2003, and took part in several attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with special responsibility for American efforts to implement the Oslo Accords.

Malley is another government veteran who helped organize the Camp David Summit, where President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak attempted to get PLO chairman Yasser Arafat (whom he subsequently falsely exonerated as being responsible for the summit’s failure) to agree to peace and a Palestinian state. He later served as point man in President Barack Obama’s efforts to broker Middle East peace. His long service led to him being named the head of the International Crisis Group, an influential and wealthy transnational liberal consulting firm.

But only their record of failure in achieving peace and curbing terrorism matches Miller’s and Malley’s undoubted knowledge of Middle Eastern diplomacy. For decades, the pair advised presidents of both parties that the only way to solve the region’s problems of the region was to pressure Israel to make concessions in order to appease the Palestinians. They consistently failed to understand that the Palestinians were uninterested in a peaceful solution where the two states would live alongside each other. And their failures, particularly the Camp David fiasco, led to directly to a terrorist war of attrition that brought misery and death to both Israelis and Palestinians. Rather than learning from their mistakes, they have continued to double down on advice that has been thoroughly discredited by the last few decades of history.

So while we don’t know whether Trump and Kushner will leave the Middle East better off than they found it, we already know that Miller and Malley—and those who heeded their bad counsel—left it far worse. Along with the rest of the foreign-policy establishment, they have been the architects of failure after failure, and instead of suffering opprobrium for their mistakes, they have been rewarded with praise from the media and profitable sinecures from which they can pontificate about their successors.

In a world in which people have been judged by their records instead of their resumes, Miller and Malley—and everyone like them—would be ignored or mocked rather than treated as experts who have the right to lecture the president and his supporters.

Whatever you may think of Trump, his rejection of the advice of such people demonstrates good judgment and not disdain for wisdom. By eschewing the false remedies the so-called foreign-policy wise men have been selling the country all these years, Trump has rooted his strategies in reality, not fantasy. It may not work, but Miller and Malley are in no position to criticize him. Instead of spouting off about Trump’s alleged foolishness and folly, they should do us all a favor and simply shut up.
JCPA: The Jerusalem Center’s Role on the Road to the “Vision for Peace”
Not long after the collapse of the Camp David and Taba talks between Israel and the Palestinians, we witnessed an intense effort to safeguard the negotiating record of those failed experiments through the use of think tanks.

At that time the Jerusalem Center brought together leading figures from the Israel Defense Forces and the diplomatic world to draft an alternative, which we presented to the Knesset and to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress. We also felt we needed a mantra to encapsulate our work. We therefor called our project “Defensible Borders for Israel,” which we contrasted with the legacy of the failed talks of the past. We borrowed there name from the founding fathers of Israel’s national security doctrine, namely, Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Rabin, and Moshe Dayan.

President Trump’s peace team consulted with many outside experts, but we felt we had a special role, which came to be expressed in some features of the Vision of Peace. Our work continued to be inspired by the idea that Israel had both a right and a need for defensible borders in the future. We could not accept the notion that Israel must inevitably withdraw to the 1967 line with perhaps some security enhancements that could be derived from international peacekeepers combined with high technology.

Our work affirmed that in any peace settlement, Israel must be able to defend itself by itself, Our work reached the highest levels of the administration of George W. Bush and now the administration of Donald J. Trump. Our multimedia presentation on Jerusalem was shown in the US Senate and in the office of Jason Greenblatt. The Trump Plan was conceived by a group of some of the smartest officials that have ever worked on this subject, but we feel we made some important contributions to many of the specifics that it contained.
Mladenov: Trump peace plan won’t be basis for Israeli-Palestinian talks
Israeli annexation of any part of the West Bank would end the possibility of resuming Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward a peace deal, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said.

“Negotiations would become impossible if Israel were to move to unilaterally implement parts of the [US peace] plan,” Mladenov said.

He spoke in Tel Aviv at a conference sponsored by the Institute for International Security Studies about his concerns regarding the "Deal of the Century" which US President Donald Trump revealed this week.

The plan, which puts forward a four-year process toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, “is a major shift” in the US paradigm of how it views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mladenov said, adding that it was also a change to the international paradigm of the resolution to the conflict.

“Will it become the basis of negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians? My bet is no,” Mladenov said.
Tom Gross: “Other stateless peoples can only dream of being offered a state and $50bn by the US president”

Trump ties and Iran fears: Why US’s Arab allies opting not to rebuke peace plan
Since Trump assumed office in 2016, Kushner and other senior American officials have often met Arab officials to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bahrain even hosted the launch of the economic portion of the plan in June.

Rabi also argued that most of the responses of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf indicate that they believe Iran’s regional activities take precedence over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Their reactions clearly show that their first priority in the region is Iran. They do not want to make any move that will antagonize the US and undermine their chances of dealing with Iranian threats,” he said. “They simply do not believe there is great strategic value in investing efforts in the Palestinian issue.”

Arab countries in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, view Iran as a major regional foe and strongly oppose its support for armed groups throughout the Middle East.

Daoud Kuttab, an Amman-based Palestinian analyst who writes for Al-Monitor and runs a local radio station, said he agreed that a large number of the Arab states want to maintain positive relations with the US, but cautioned that it may be too early to fully judge their response to the plan.

“These are very diplomatic responses. They understand the way Trump works and do not want to anger him,” he said. “But I think it is too early to say we have seen their full response. It will be important to see what they say at the Arab League this weekend.”

The Arab League is set to convene with Abbas in attendance to discuss the plan.
The Arabs are losing interest in the Palestinians. This is a game-changer
Before that, Abbas never even deigned to respond to an offer made by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, which provided 100 per cent of the West Bank (with land swaps) and an agreement to a divided Jerusalem. No Palestinian leader will ever do better. Abbas did not even respond.

This is the conduct of a statesman hoping to lead his people to sovereign nationhood?

No. Abbas is a corrupt autocrat, 15 years into his four-year term, who has stuffed his pockets and those of his cronies, who has sold out his people and will continue to do so.

His intransigence, which admits not a scintilla of compromise, leaves him in the company of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. As numerous Arab countries were urging him to get with the program, Abbas summoned his arch nemesis — Hamas — to a late-night summit in Ramallah. Together, they are threatening all manner of violence and terror against Israel, backed up by the Islamic State saying they will target Jewish and Israeli people. Not to be outdone, Iran, too, is breathing fire, and no one takes them lightly.

But there is only one sliver of land and neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis will get it all. Obstructionism has not served the Palestinian people at all well. If I were them, I’d quit burning tires and shooting rockets at Israeli civilians; I’d resist any urge to strap on a suicide vest and blow up families and children on buses or in restaurants. I’d direct my voice at my leaders and tell them this is a red line. It’s high time to get to the negotiating table.

And if I were Abbas, I’d snap out of my alternate reality and roll up my sleeves.

Because Trump and Bibi mean business. And the Gulf states and Saudis? Well, they’ve checked out.

This is where the rubber really does hit the road.
Daniel Pipes: Reservations about the Trump Peace Plan
Peace to Prosperity estimates that its prescriptions could cause the Palestinian GDP to "double in 10 years, create over 1 million new jobs, reduce the unemployment rate below 10 percent, and reduce the poverty rate by 50 percent." In this spirit, the word electricityoccurs 116 times in the plan and prosperity 303 times.

The plan goes into minute details. For example, it calls for the establishment of a "Dead Sea Resort Area," demanding that Israel allow Palestine to develop it to the north of the Dead Sea along with a road allowing Palestinians "to travel from the State of Palestine to this resort area, subject to Israeli security considerations." Or it foresees raising and spending $25 million over a two-year period to provide "robust technical support to the Palestinian public sector to develop a new trade regime and framework."

My response: Does a single person out there actually believe any of this chimera will be implemented?

Rather than – once again – attempt to lure Palestinians into accepting their Israeli neighbor by pretending they will attain a better life, Palestinians need to hear the unvarnished truth:
- Their century-long rejection of Jews, Judaism, Zionism, and Israel is the one and only problem preventing a solution; it must end, immediately, completely.
- They will gain no resort area, no new trade regime, no vast financial aid, much less sovereignty and prosperity until they unequivocally accept the Jewish state of Israel and do so over a protracted period.

My reservations about the Trump plan concern its repeating and heightening the old, failed approach of promising the Palestinians benefits. No, they need to hear the deep truth that nothing good will happen until they give up their foul rejectionism. Rather than hold out hope, it should paint a picture of despair. Failing this, the plan will end up as irrelevant as every prior presidential initiative.
David Horovitz: Trump plan won’t bring peace, helps Netanyahu, raises risk of binational state
The US president noted on Tuesday that “all prior administrations, from President Lyndon Johnson, have tried and bitterly failed” to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their efforts have foundered largely on the rock of Palestinian intransigence.

In relatively recent memory, the Palestinians turned down Ehud Barak’s 90 percent-plus West Bank offer in 2000. And Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did not so much as respond to Ehud Olmert’s 2008 offer of 100% of the West Bank (with land swaps), a divided Jerusalem, and a role in an international trusteeship over the Holy Basin.

The Palestinians are not about to reverse their perennial rejectionism because Trump is warning them that his dramatically less attractive terms may be “the last opportunity they will ever have.”

For that same reason, Netanyahu-rival Benny Gantz’s stated desire to utilize the plan not unilaterally, but as “a basis for progress toward an agreed deal with the Palestinians and regional states,” would not work either. The Palestinians do not want a deal on any terms Israel could accept; that’s why this conflict is so intractable.

While Trump’s plan will not achieve its stated goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace, it marks a resounding success for Netanyahu, at least in the short term. Among other achievements, he evidently shifted a president who, on taking office, told the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily that he did not consider settlements “a good thing for peace.”

Whether — along with his retrieval of the unjustly jailed Israeli-American Naama Issachar from Russia, and any other diplomatic coups he still has in mind — it will help secure Netanyahu victory on March 2, in what Trump cheerfully called “the longest-running election of all time,” is something we have learned not to try to predict.
David Singer: Trump’s Vision is a Mirage based on Shaky Foundations
President Trump’s now released deal of the century – calling for the creation of a second Arab statein former Palestine in addition to Jordan (“the two-state solution”) – has predictably already been consigned to the dustbin of history by PLO President Mahmoud Abbas on the day of its publication.

Trump's solution was a mirage based on the same shaky foundations unsuccessfully pursued by the international community since the 1980 Venice Declaration.

Trump’s failure to address the following issues ensured its collapse from the get go:
1. The term “Palestinians” is not defined in the plan’s Glossary.
Who comprise “the Palestinians” and what constitutes their common identity?
2. Trump’s plan states: “Palestinians have aspirations that have not been realized, including self-determination”.
Trump ignores that the “Palestinians”' right to self-determination was realized when all West Bank Arabs became citizens of Jordan between 1950 and 1967 – then continued to retain their Jordanian citizenship until revoked by Jordan in 1988.
3. Trump’s plan states: “The State of Israel has also exchanged sizeable territories for the sake of peace, as it did when it withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for peace with the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Why was this not mentioned?
4. Trump’s plan states: “One reason for the intractability of this problem is the conflation of two separate conflicts: a territorial, security and refugee dispute between Israel and the Palestinians and a religious dispute between Israel and the Muslim world regarding control over places of religious significance.”

There is only one conflict – between Jews and Arabs - fuelled by the Arab League’s refusal to recognise the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948.

The religious dispute was resolved under the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty granting Jordan control over places of Islamic religious significance in Jerusalem.
Israel will be less secure if the "Deal ofthe Century" is carried out
Within the 'Deal Of The Century,' the Trump Administration’s reported proposal to create a tunnel corridor linking Hamas-run Gaza to the Palestinian Authority-run territories would pose an extreme danger to Israel’s security.

The creation of a tunnel highway and railway linking the Gaza Strip to those parts of Judea-Samaria that are controlled by the Palestinian Authority would slice across Israel’s middle and would connect and thereby significantly strengthen the potential military capacity of these two perennially hostile anti-Israel regimes.

I believe that it should be clear that the tunnel aspect of the Trump team's "Deal Of The Century" proposal would critically endanger Israeli civilians.

Hamas is already taking advantage of every current opportunity to send terrorists from Gaza into Judea-Samaria, so let’s just imagine what Hamas would do if it is given a highway and railway tunnel system through which it could send whatever it wants

If Israel tried to interfere with Palestinian Arabs using that corridor, it would become the subject of severe international condemnation. The United Nations would almost surely threaten sanctions as would the European Union. This deal, if implemented as presented, will turn into a nightmare of criticism and pressure.

If Israel were to limit the flow of supplies through the tunnel the denunciations Israel would receive from throughout the world over using the “humanitarian aid” line of attack would be relentless.
Don't the Palestinians Regret Not Taking Previous Statehood Offers?
The U.S. peace plan is an opportunity for Palestinians and their supporters to ask themselves difficult questions. The Palestinians - and the broader pro-Palestinian community of diplomats, activists, and academics - owe themselves and the beleaguered people whose cause they claim to champion a firm reckoning with two decades of rejectionism.

There's nothing special about an Israeli like me pointing out what a terrible mistake it was to turn down Ehud Barak's offer in 2000 or Ehud Olmert's in 2008. What is maddening is how few Palestinian voices seem to want to say the same.

Is it even a question that an independent Palestinian state comprising all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank with a position in Jerusalem and no separation fence would be better than what the Palestinians have today? The Trump plan is much worse than what the Palestinians could have had only six years ago with the Kerry proposal from 2014. Surely, there must be a lesson here.

The former administration officials clogging the pipes with tweets about decades of international consensus being upended don't like to be reminded of the past. Autonomy was supposed to moderate the Palestinians ("give them something to lose"); it led to an unprecedented wave of suicide terrorism.

Elections were supposed to weaken Hamas; they took power. Settlement freezes were supposed to make negotiations easier. Military force to crush the second intifada was supposed to be doomed to fail. The West Bank separation barrier could never work.

Assassination of Hamas leaders was supposed to increase suicide bombing rather than eliminate it for nearly a decade so far. Erdogan was supposed to be a model of democratic Islamism that Israel should support as an example. The Jerusalem recognition was supposed to cause the Middle East to erupt.

Gantz says will present Trump's peace plan for Knesset approval next week
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz said Wednesday that he will present the US administration’s Middle East peace for the Knesset's approval next week.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies, Gantz said that the American proposal "reflects faithfully the fundamental principles outlined in the Blue and White platform. This is a historic opportunity to establish Israel’s borders and future."

Gantz branded the White House's unveiling of the peace initiative as the "second significant event that took place this week" – referring to incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment filed to the court on Tuesday by Israel's attorney general.

In order to implement Trump’s peace plan, Gantz added, "an honest prime minister is needed who is reliable and free to manage the state."

He further urged the Palestinian leadership to accept "the principles of the plan … [Just for] one time say yes, and grant your children hope for a better future."
Israeli Settlers Praise Trump Peace Plan Announcement

An Attempt to Dislodge the Stalled Peace Process
The new U.S. Mideast peace plan is an effort to take the comatose peace process in a bold new direction. This is no "land for peace" approach, like the one tested in the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which resulted in the strip becoming a rocket launching pad for Hamas. Instead, Palestinians are being presented with a series of steps establishing a path for sovereignty.

Critics said that recognizing united Jerusalem as Israel's capital and recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights would make future peace deals impossible, but what they signaled was that the president was willing to use his leverage to dislodge the stalled process and make those who rejected negotiations pay a real price. These moves were also long overdue recognitions of the reality that Israel would never hand over east Jerusalem or the Golan, so those issues might as well be taken off the table.

By refusing to negotiate even using the plan as a baseline subject to change, the Palestinians are saying they really aren't up to the task of reaching a settlement.
Trump Plan Voids Oslo Accords, Abbas Warns in Handwritten Note to Netanyahu
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas sent a handwritten letter in Arabic to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, telling the Israeli leader that the PA no longer saw itself a party to any agreements with Israel following the publication of the Trump peace plan on Tuesday.

According to a report by Channel 12, a delegation led by PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh met with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, delivered the letter, and announced that the PA views the US peace plan, aka the “deal of the century,” as a voiding of the Clinton-era Oslo Accords, freeing the PA from all its commitments to Israel under those agreements, including security cooperation.

“The plan is an American and Israeli disavowal of the Oslo accords, and so the Palestinian Authority now sees itself as free to disregard the agreements with Israel, including security cooperation,” Abbas wrote in the letter, according to the report.

Kahlon is scheduled to present the letter to Netanyahu when the prime minister returns from a trip to Russia on Thursday, where he will meet recently-freed Israeli backpacker Naama Issachar and escort her back to Israel.

Speaking to senior Palestinian leaders, including representatives of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, at PA headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday, Abbas said, “We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘deal of the century.’”
NYTs: For Palestinians, the Landscape Has Shifted
While it was always presumed that a Palestinian state would be forged through talks with the Israelis, the landscape has shifted much in recent years with a divided Palestinian leadership and an Arab world that has largely moved on.

With only muted reaction from Arab neighbors and little apparent appetite among Palestinians for a violent response, a peace proposal that might have been considered outlandish a decade ago landed with little serious opposition.

The assorted calls for action from Palestinian activists eager to shake up the prevailing inertia sounded like variations on a theme of admitting the failure of the Palestinian Authority to grow into a state.
Will Europe finally tell the Palestinians to do what's right?
The Europeans' somewhat positive reaction to the Trump administration's newly unveiled peace plan underscores a paradigm shift in the approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This could be the start of a wholesale revamping of the European position, considering that ever since the 1970s, the Europeans have championed the Palestinian cause and defended them, sometimes with even more zealotry than the Arab states.

If this continues, this could culminate with the Europeans ditching their longstanding views they have been wedded too regarding this region. The traditional European approach to the region is partly a result of anti-Semitism and economic interests, but also a consequence of the romanticism that has defined the continent's view to Islamic and Arab cultures.

Trump has managed to change the rules of the game on the international stage. The Europeans played a major rule in adopting those rules, but now Trump has rewritten them entirely. The 1967 borders are no longer sacred; Jerusalem is to remain the undivided capital of Israel; the Jordan Valley is to remain Israel's eastern border, the Israeli settlements are legal and will be annexed as part of land swaps, and the "Right of Return" is not even mentioned.

The five cardinal rules, that have been reversed by Trump, were adopted, in principle or in theory, by the Europeans, helping the Palestinians perpetuate the conflict with the generous financial aid of European nations.
What does the Guardian think Palestinian leaders should do to advance peace?
Earlier, we noted that an Independent editorial (paywall) on Trump’s new peace plan (Peace talks are the only way to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jan. 30) was surprisingly balanced – at least by their standards. Though it was very critical of the offer, it also opined that, whilst Mahmoud Abbas is “certainly right to criticise it”, “he should still engage with it”.

“The least the Palestinians could do”, the editorial continued, “is to sit down with the Americans, or the Israelis, or both….or with the Jordanians and others intimately affected by the so-called deal and discuss the proposals step by step, clause by clause”.

The editorial concluded by stressing that “the talking has to go on, even if sometimes it seems futile and even demeaning to do so; because violence has served the peoples of the region even less well”.

The Guardian’s editorial (The Guardian view on Trump’s ‘peace plan’: a con, not a deal, Jan. 29), by contrast, was completely one-sided. Though most of it is devoted to attacking Trump, Netanyahu and the plan, whilst alleging that the deal denies Palestinians their rights, it says nothing about what Palestinian leaders should do now to advance peace, other than to complain that it’s “absurd” to expect them to accept the deal, which, they claim, would give them a state “in name alone”.

The Guardian’s silence in the op-ed on the question of what Palestinian leaders CAN do to advance peace is characteristic of their coverage of the conflict since as along as we’ve been monitoring them: reporting and commentary which myopically and obsessively focuses on every Israeli sin, real and (mostly) imagined, whilst ignoring Palestinian behavior. Such questions are rarely if ever asked, likely because, in order to pose such queries, you first must impute moral agency to Palestinians – a principle inherently at odds with their rigid ideological orientation, one which views them as merely victims.
The BBC’s Middle East editor’s framing of the US peace plan
A report by the BBC’s Middle East editor which was aired in the January 28th edition of BBC One’s ‘News at Ten’ just hours after the presentation of the US administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan gives a good view of how the BBC has decided to frame that topic.

Presenter Huw Edwards’ introduction included the statement that “no Palestinian officials were involved” in the drafting of the plan but audiences were not informed of US efforts to get them onboard.

Interestingly, Edwards stepped a little outside the usual BBC framing according to which ‘the occupation’ is responsible for all the region’s ills with a mention of 1948 but quickly returned to the party line by claiming that efforts to secure an end to the conflict have been thwarted solely by the building of Israeli communities. Viewers of course heard nothing either from Edwards or from Jeremy Bowen about the Jordanian invasion and occupation of areas assigned to the creation of a Jewish homeland under the Mandate for Palestine.
BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ viewers misled on 1949 Armistice lines
The failure to challenge the false notion of “the 1967 borders” – actually cease fire lines drawn up under the 1949 Armistice Agreement which were specifically defined as not being borders – breaches the same BBC Academy style guide which states:

“The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.”

Buttu’s second contribution to Urban’s report purportedly explaining the US peace plan to BBC audiences was as follows:

Buttu: “Let’s be clear; this isn’t a deal. This is a demand that Palestinians submit to Israeli dictates and that’s it. And they’ve tried this in the past. It’s failed in the past. And it should fail because we as Palestinians shouldn’t be forced to live less than human beings. We shouldn’t be forced to be less than equals. We should be treated as equals and the world should be now putting sanctions on Israel to make sure that Israel’s not allowed to be above the law and that we’re no longer treated as though we’re beneath the law.”

Anyone familiar with Diana Buttu and her record of promoting falsehoods to the media would not be surprised in the least by her hyperbole and distortions. Most BBC viewers, however, have probably never heard of her and so it was Newsnight’s responsibility to ensure that falsehoods such as the notion of “1967 borders” were adequately challenged so as to avoid misleading viewers.

As we see, Newsnight fell short of that responsibility, just as it failed to clarify why – as stated by Urban – “there was no Palestinian partner in the room”.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Abbas Chooses Hamas Over Peace with Israel
Hamas and Iran have no plans to boost the economy in the Gaza Strip. They also have no intention of creating jobs for thousands of unemployed Palestinians.

"After years of no progress, the donor community is fatigued and reluctant to make additional investments so long as the governance structure in Gaza is run by terrorists who provoke confrontations that lead to more destruction and suffering." — From the "Peace to Prosperity" plan.

In fact, the wording of Trump's plan is quite compatible with the position of Abbas and his PA officials in the West Bank.

By forging an alliance with Hamas, a terror group that does not recognize Israel's right to exist, Abbas is already signaling his readiness to join forces with those who oppose any peace process with Israel. Such an alliance effectively places Abbas on the side of Iran and its Hamas and PIJ proxies.

Abbas and Hamas may renew their relations in the near future, but it will be the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip who will suffer, condemned by their leaders to poverty and misery.

In their response to the "Peace to Prosperity" plan, Palestinian leaders have once again succeeded in what they do best: taking any hope for the wellbeing of their people and driving it straight into the ground.
Misreading reality, Palestinians overplayed their hand
In Khartoum, Sudan, in 1967, it was decided that there would never be Arab recognition of Israel, no peace, and no negotiations. But in Beirut in 2002, it was decided that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a solution for the refugee problem would bring about the end to the conflict with the Arab world, leading to peace and full normalization of ties. And in recent years, even before the formulation of the deal of the century, some Arab states from the Sunni bloc began to normalize their relationship with Israel "under the table".

The Europeans had had enough, but they were not alone. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a thorn in the side of most Arab states, which are dealing with extremely difficult issues of their own. Even though only three Arab ambassadors were present at the White House ceremony, many of the leaders of the Sunni bloc believe that now that Israel has accepted the principle of two states – even if those conditions are less advantageous for the Palestinians – President Mahmoud Abbas must end his boycott and immediately reenter into discussions with the Americans.

This weekend, the Arab foreign ministers will meet for an emergency meeting at the behest of Abbas. The public speeches may still voice support for the Palestinian position. But behind the scenes, he will be advised to move towards a solution and away from the idea of an armed conflict that Hamas will advocate in its meetings with the delegation Abbas decided to dispatch to Gaza "for the sake of unity" at this time of great emergency for the Palestinian people.

Reading between the lines, it seems as though the United States put considerable effort into preparing the ground with the moderate Arab states ahead of the release of the plan. The fact that the Saudi Crown Prince tried to convince Abbas that it "would not be a disaster" if the Palestinian capital is in Abu Dis (as we reported here exclusively for the first time) shows that he was in on at least some of the details of the deal.

Nonetheless, despite the attempts by some Arab leaders to convince them otherwise, it seems unlikely that there will be a Palestinian partner for implementing the Trump peace plan any time soon. Israel would do well to call on the Palestinians to enter into negotiations on the plan, despite Abbas' resolute opposition, and in addition, take steps to placate the Jordanian king who supports the idea of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley in his heart, but it deeply perturbed by the possible implications of such a move on the stability of his kingdom.
MEMRI: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: We Say 'No, No, No' To The Deal Of The Century One Thousand Times; We Are Not A Terrorist People, But We Deserve To Live; We Should Unite With Hamas
On January 28, 2020, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at a press conference in response to the release of the details of the "Deal of the Century" peace plan. Saying the deal is the "culmination" of the Balfour Declaration, which he claimed the United States had founded, Abbas said that the Palestinians reject the "conspiratorial" deal a thousand times over, that Jerusalem is not for sale, that an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital will be established, that the Palestinians should take to the streets like the Lebanese people, that the Palestinians only accept negotiations based on United Nations resolutions, and that the PA, Hamas, and other Palestinian factions should put aside silly differences and stand united. President Abbas also said that the Palestinians are not a terrorist people, but that they deserve to live.

"We Have Just Heard President Trump And Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Talking About The 'Slap' Of The Century; We Will Respond To This Slap With Multiple Slaps"

Mahmoud Abbas: "I'd like to say to the Trump and Netanyahu duo that Jerusalem is not for sale. None of our rights are up for sale or for compromise. Your conspiracy of a deal will not pass.
"Our people will send [the deal] to the garbage bins of history, where all the conspiratorial plans to eliminate our cause have gone.
"We have just heard President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about the 'Slap' of the Century. We will respond to this slap with multiple slaps, inshallah, in the future."
Hamas calls for mass demonstrations, West Bank clashes intensify
The Hamas terrorist group has called for mass demonstrations throughout the Gaza Strip on Thursday after evening prayers, in protest against the "Deal of the Century" Middle East peace plan, according to Palestinian reports. In the West Bank, clashes were sparked in multiple cities, with Palestinians reporting that 30 people were arrested within 24 hours.

Israeli security forces fired tear gas at protesters in Al-Bireh and Jericho. IDF soldiers opened fire and fired tear gas at student demonstrators along the Gaza border near Khan Younis on Thursday, according to Palestinian reports. The students left the area and no injuries were reported.

IDF soldiers clashed with Palestinians who were throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks in Hebron on Thursday as well. According to a report by the Red Crescent, there have been eight injured as a result of the clashes in Al-Bireh and Sa'ir.

On Wednesday, two Palestinians were arrested after attempting to carry out a stabbing attack against a police officer on the Temple Mount. The suspects are both teenage residents of east Jerusalem and are being investigated by Israel Police. Israeli security forces closed the doors to the Temple Mount for about an hour after the arrests, according to Palestinian media. Worshipers were unable to leave or enter the compound.

During protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Wednesday, several Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas, according to Palestinian media. Incendiary balloons, similar to those launched from the Gaza Strip, were launched from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya for the first time on Wednesday, according to Palestinian media. Multiple rock throwing attacks were reported throughout the West Bank, with some vehicles being damaged.
Israel braces for Temple Mount clashes after 'Deal of Century' released
Israeli security forces are bracing for possible clashes on the Temple Mount during Friday prayers, as tensions rise after the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan on Tuesday. Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in the past few weeks have been used to protest against Israeli actions at the site.

Israel Police decided to increase readiness during Friday prayers at the Temple Mount.

"Israel Police will take strong action against all intentions to disturb the peace and to impair the proper holding of Friday prayers," said Israel Police on Thursday.

On Wednesday, two Palestinians were arrested after attempting to carry out a stabbing attack against a police officer on the Temple Mount. The suspects are both teenage residents of east Jerusalem and are being investigated by Israel Police. Israeli security forces closed the doors to the Temple Mount for about an hour after the arrests, according to Palestinian media. Worshipers were unable to leave or enter the compound.
In Ramallah, Palestinians Protest Trump Middle East Peace Plan

Ex-CIA Chief Petraeus: Iran, Hizbullah Will Not Risk Major War with Israel
Iran and Hezbollah will not risk a major war with Israel, ex-CIA director and general David Petraeus said on Wednesday.

Speaking from the INSS annual international conference in Tel Aviv, Petraeus explained that a combination of US and Israeli military power had established deterrence with both Iran and Hezbollah from major risky actions, even as they might risk smaller confrontations.

Petraeus said that, “Iran will not risk a major war because it would put its survival at risk,” stating that Tehran knew Jerusalem would not hesitate to unleash massive force in a broad conflict and that even the US might get involved.

He added that he believed Russia would act to restrain the Islamic Republic from major destabilizing activities.

Regarding Hezbollah, he said, “Hezbollah will not risk a full war” with Israel “unless it is pushed into a corner.”
Iran’s Quds Force vows to oppose Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is seeking to play a major role against US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” At the same time, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force has issued a message calling for resistance against the plan and praising the Palestinians for “standing alone” against it.

Iranian media reported on a speech by PIJ leader Khader Habib in Gaza's Deir al-Balah this week, in which he said that the Palestinians must not give up one inch of territory to the “conspiracy” that is Trump’s deal. He also slammed Jews and Zionists.

Islamic Jihad claims Jerusalem is a “purely Islamic city” and that all of the land from the “river to the sea” belongs to Palestinians. He argued that the “Deal of the Century” will fail. The first option for PIJ is resistance and to realize national unity. “We will continue to oppose the deal in all its forms, and regain our rights and not surrender to the usurper, the Trump regime.”
Khamenei: ‘Satanic, Evil US Policy About Palestine Will Never Bear Fruit’
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that all Muslim nations would oppose US President Donald Trump’s newly revealed peace plan, which he said would not succeed.

“To the dismay of US politicians, the satanic, evil US policy about Palestine — the so-called #DealOfTheCentury — will never bear fruit, by the grace of God. About the Jewishization [sic] of #alQuds [Jerusalem] and saying it should be in the hands of the Jews, they’re talking foolishly & unwisely,” Khamenei wrote on Twitter.

“The issue of #Palestine will never be forgotten. The Palestinian nation and all Muslim nations will definitely stand up to them and not allow the so-called #DealOfCentury to be realized,” he added.

The US plan, released on Tuesday, offers the Palestinians a truncated state with a possible capital in eastern Jerusalem, and the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Israelis Can’t Wait For New Dawn After Trump Plan Changes Nothing (satire)
Sderot, Gaza Envelope, January 30 – Two days after US President Donald Trump’s grand announcement of a comprehensive peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, citizens of the Jewish state have remained giddy over the prospect of no change in the intolerable situation for the foreseeable future.

Residents of this area subjected to on-and-off rocket and mortar attacks from Palestinian terrorist groups in the coastal territory nextdoor found themselves once again unable to sleep at night since the release of the so-called Deal of the Century, this time not as a result of missiles and the need to find armored shelter, but because the game-changing plan that draws actual borders and finalizes the status of heretofore-ambiguous swaths of the land means not an iota in the lives of the residents will shift.

“The excitement… I can’t explain it,” confessed area electrician Matan Voltz. “For years and years we’ve absorbed countless rockets and artillery fire from Hamas and the like. But now, with this plan on the table, we can look forward to more of the same. It’s huge.”

“It’s hard to overstate how important this is for us,” agreed Kibbutz Zikkim resident Seimold Storrey. “One day you get up, and boom, the world has shifted. Used to be, we’d have to spend our lives always keeping in the back of our minds that we have to keep track of the nearest shelter, just in case of a launch alert that gives us maybe fifteen seconds to find protection. But Bibi and Trump have altered the paradigm. It’s time to shift gears, because now we’ll have fifteen seconds to find shelter but an embattled US president has a plan. A total sea change.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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