US President Donald Trump meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in March. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
New Right leader Naftali Bennett relayed a dramatic message in a speech this week: “Let my people know!” he said repeatedly, in a riff on Moses’s famous statement to Pharaoh.
The people – meaning Israelis – deserve to know what is in US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Bennett rightly argued.
Trump has promised to make the “Deal of the Century” between Israel and the Palestinians, and his staff has been working on the plan for nearly two years. Now, the plan is ready. Trump’s envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner said it will “focus on drawing the border and resolving the core issues.”
“There is no undo button here,” Bennett told The Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov. If a Palestinian state is established and Jerusalem is divided, “we won’t be able to just say ‘oops, sorry, we messed up.’”
“If this is what the Deal of the Century is – and I am deeply worried it is – then the Israeli people should know what is in store before we vote for the government that will have to answer it,” Bennett added.
The Trump administration isn’t telling Israelis the details of the deal. Not to intervene in the April 9 election, they are waiting until after the vote to present it to the world.
This is, to put it bluntly, an insult to Israelis’ intelligence.
When Israelis go to the polls in April, they will be choosing who will lead the country in the coming years. Even those who vote for smaller parties know whom those parties’ leaders support for prime minister, and therefore are voting for the kind of government they want to see.
One of the first items on the agenda of Israel’s newly-elected prime minister will be Trump’s peace plan. How our prime minister responds to that plan could have a huge impact on Israel’s future.
There is a good chance that the Palestinians will reject the deal, because they have snubbed the Trump administration since it rightfully recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people. But we can’t rely on that.
We, the voters, should be able to see what is in the deal, hear what the candidates think about it, and choose accordingly.
Will the status quo continue? Will there be further concessions of land? Will a Palestinian state be established? Will tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Israelis be forced from their homes? Will Jerusalem be divided? Will the descendants of Palestinian refugees finally be treated like they’re not refugees, as they would be in all other conflicts, or will arrangements be made for them to be able to move into the borders of a new Palestinian state?
These are questions Israelis ask quite often. But with another president hoping to make history in the tiny country we call home, they have become more relevant and urgent than in previous years.
Yet, we have been left in the dark about what Trump expects, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, who hopes to be prime minister, an excuse not to say much about how they plan to proceed.
Releasing the Trump peace plan isn’t a matter of whether the election will be swayed in Netanyahu’s favor or against him. It’s about giving Israelis a fair and honest say in the direction this country will take in the near future.
By hiding the plan, the Trump administration isn’t staying out of the election – they are casting a large shadow over the election. As much as the candidates try to avoid it, this issue still stands. They are leaving questions open that prevent all Israelis from making a truly informed decision on April 9.
In the meantime, Israelis are left to make decisions without pertinent knowledge.
If the Trump administration respects Israel’s democracy, it will present its plan now and let Israeli voters make this election a referendum on it. Elections are meant to be an opportunity for a people to chart a course for the way they want their country to move forward. A plan aimed at solving the conflict with the Palestinians is part of that course. Hiding it does not help either side.
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