On the surface, there appears to be no connection between Trump’s deal and the disengagement – but in reality, they are closely linked.
According to reports, Trump will reveal the contents of the deal after the April 9 elections, ensuring that the deal will be a critical issue on which the final coalition agreements will be determined.
As a consequence, the results of the upcoming elections will be critical to the future of the State of Israel. The newly elected government will no longer face hypothetical questions for renewed negotiations with the Palestinians, but will feel real, unrelenting pressure from Israel’s strongest ally to make dangerous, even existentially threatening concessions in the interest of fulfilling the American dream of peace in the Middle East.
Consequently, it is critical that the Israeli public internalizes the stakes involved with the “deal of the century” and place it at the very center of public discourse. The voters cannot go to the polls without the realization that they are making a decision for or against adoption of the deal.
According to various leaks of the deal, it aims to both divide Jerusalem and establish a Palestinian state on 85%-90% of the territory of Judea and Samaria, which would entail expelling at least 30,000 Jews from their homes.
In addition, as envisioned in the deal, the Palestinians would be included as co-administrators of the Temple Mount. Doing so would put the final nail in the proverbial coffin of Israeli control over the Mount.
But despite these liabilities contained in the deal, there are still skeptics who downplay its threat to Israel.
The first argument asserts that the Palestinians have categorically rejected any proposal by the Trump administration, and therefore any threat to Israel is “much ado about nothing” or just plain political fear-mongering.
The weakness of this argument is that one cannot with certainty predict the position the Palestinian Authority will take when the deal is in fact revealed to them.
Additionally, it might not matter whether the Palestinians are malleable to negotiations or will out rightly reject them. The US can still pressure Israel to implement the deal unilaterally, thus forcing the Palestinians to accept a fait accompli.
The second argument states that Trump will never force Israel to divide Jerusalem and expel thousands of Jewish residents from their homes, as this would be unacceptable to his large base of Evangelical supporters.
But what if the newly elected Israeli government would find this compromise doable in some form of irresistible quid pro quo? It would be very difficult and unlikely that Evangelicals would oppose the deal if an Israeli government speaks in favor of it.
In addition, what would happen if Trump does not win the 2020 presidential elections? What if the Democrats, who are growing increasingly hostile to Israel by the day, take the reins of power?
Such a political scenario in 2020 would create a sense of déjà vu, stirring memories of 8,500 Jews expelled in the Gaza Disengagement and thousands of Jews murdered and maimed in the First and Second Intifadas. The specter of the bloody failures of the Oslo Accords would not seem very far off.
At the end of the day, the Israeli public needs to wake up to the imminent threat of the deal of the century. If we, the Israeli public, do not elect parties to the Knesset whose DNA is unyieldingly against dividing Jerusalem and against making concessions on defensible borders, we may very well find ourselves facing existential threats.
Ultimately, any government that is willing to roll the dice on the deal does not have these preservation drives, these values, ingrained in its DNA. They will rationalize survival to a miscalculated risk-benefit analysis and inevitably capitulate to the international pressure foisted on Israel by the deal.
This is how best intentions will pave the route to a “second disengagement” – unless Israeli citizens internalize the gravity of what is at stake, make the right decision in the elections, and then put pressure on their elected representatives to reject the deal of the century.
The writer is the CEO of Im Tirtzu.