Our miss within the 'Deal of the Century'

Did Trump come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One en route to the Word Economic Forum in Davos, at Zurich International Airport in Zurich, Switzerland January 21, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One en route to the Word Economic Forum in Davos, at Zurich International Airport in Zurich, Switzerland January 21, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)
We don’t know yet the exact details of the peace plan that US President Donald Trump will release this week. But we do know this – the “Deal of the Century,” which his administration has been laboring over for the last three years, will be the most favorable plan for the State of Israel for how to end what has seemed like an intractable conflict with the Palestinians.
Ever since he was appointed to his role as US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman has had one clear agenda – how to strengthen Israeli-US relations and help Israel achieve and maintain security and stability in a volatile region.
Did he come with an ideology that seemed at times to be aligned with the Israeli Right? Possibly. But that did not detract from his primary agenda that is an interest for all of Israel.
That agenda is what led to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, to the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to the declaration that Israeli settlements are not illegal and much more.
It has all been motivated by the same desire – how to help Israel and advance its standing in the volatile Middle East. Yes, there were also other interests at play – Trump enjoys support from the right-wing Evangelical community as well as financial backing from donors like pro-Israel casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Moving the embassy might have been enough for all of them. Everything else stems from a real desire to help make the Middle East safer, and Friedman has been one of the real catalysts behind it.
But here is the problem – Israel cannot get its act together. For the last year, the administration has been waiting to roll out its long-awaited peace plan, expected to call for Jerusalem to remain undivided, for the settlements to remain part of Israel, and for Israel to be able to annex the Jordan Valley if and when the Palestinians refuse to come to the negotiating table.
The last year of political paralysis has had a dire effect on the State of Israel. The country is stuck on a number of levels – hospitals that need to be built can’t. The same when it comes to schools or other infrastructure projects that need to be approved, budgeted and moved ahead.
The IDF has its own problems. Without a state budget, the military cannot approve its multi-year plan, which it needs to advance delayed procurement plans for fighter jets, transport aircraft, helicopters, Iron Dome interceptors and more.
The political paralysis has also had its effect on Israel’s relations with the US. The peace plan was ready to be rolled out over a year ago but then Israel went to elections. The Americans decided to wait but then we went to another election and then another one. The plan kept getting delayed. The administration had enough waiting and is now releasing it even though Israel is going to another election on March 2.
The problem though is that no matter what happens now and no matter how positive the plan might be for Israel, it is impossible to disconnect it from the ongoing political situation here.
Everything that happens now will be viewed through a political prism. It might be a favorable plan but Netanyahu will be thinking about how it will help him stay in power and avoid a trial, Benny Gantz will be thinking how it helps Netanyahu and hurts him, Naftali Bennett will use it to attack Netanyahu from the Right and on and on.
This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Here, we have an administration that clearly wants to help Israel, but the state cannot find a way to let itself be helped because of the ongoing political paralysis.
Whatever happens in Washington next week, Israel will have to not only say thank you to the Trump administration but also to apologize.
It will need to say sorry for not being stable enough to work with on matters of joint strategic importance.


Tags Politics