The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been around for the entirety of Israel’s existence. For all of those 71 years, Israel has been oriented towards achieving comprehensive peace with its neighbors. And over the course of those seven decades, Israel has been paired with thirteen different US Presidents, yet none of them could facilitate peace.
What makes President Donald Trump so different?
Trump has shown a propensity to violate accepted norms. And when you have a conflict that has existed for so long, with all the players refusing to deviate from many assumptions - you need a leader who can operate outside those lines.
Previous failed attempts at a resolution were doomed by the fallacy that you can negotiate peace with people that are still committed to your destruction.
By not pandering to get both sides to the table, and laying out a vision of what it will take to create a lasting peace, Trump is drawing a realistic line that can lead to the resolution of the conflict.
Why does Israel intuitively trust Trump?
Trump has approached the conflict through a sober lens rooted in reality. By preventing US taxpayer funds from going to the families of terrorists (serving as motivation for future shahids) Trump has acknowledged that fostering a culture that rewards and idolizes terrorists is incompatible to peace. Shattering that dynamic is not ‘pro-Israel’ but merely a pre-requisite to achieving peace.
By acknowledging that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Trump merely conceded reality and refused to maintain the dangerous fantasy that Jerusalem (which has served as Israel’s capitol since 1948) is up for debate.
This administration that has understood that the conflict existed long before Israel liberated Judea & Samaria and has not fallen for the falsehood that blames Israeli residents of Judea & Samaria for the perpetuating the conflict.
Why is it not a problem that Palestinians aren’t included?
Let’s rephrase that. How can peace be achieved if one of the parties is still committed to jihad against the other? Any plan that is presented without clear expectations for Palestinians to genuinely acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and de-militarization is doomed to failure (as the last 70 years has amply demonstrated). Laying out the terms of what it will take to achieve peace is something that has not been updated to the reality of 2020. We can no longer work with such an outdated operating system.
So why do it now?
It is clear that the Trump Administration recognizes this as the time to advance the vital interests of the United States to Israel and the Greater Middle East. There are new Middle Eastern alliances emerging that must be addressed.
The Trump Administration is also accepting the Israeli political stalemate as the default and recognizing it for the opportunity it can be.
Releasing the plan now will give the Israeli public a say – critical for the success of any peace plan. Each political party will assess the plan and offer their response of 0%, 50% 80%, or 100% support. The Israeli public will have their opportunity to respond on Election Day, March 2. This is extremely empowering to the Israeli voters and will also help clarify to the Palestinians, and the International community, where the Israeli public is on an acceptable resolution to the conflict.
Those who have criticized the Administration for ‘interfering with the election process’, are actually fearful that the major parties will embrace too many aspects of the Trump vision, thereby eviscerating their own long held (and failed) plans. If the Trump plan is even partially embraced, this would demonstrate that the Israeli public has completely moved on from the failed thinking of the last many decades, pushed by the DC/European based peace process industry. They would have you believe that releasing a plan for peace after the Israeli public votes is a more democratic process? Really?
The release of this plan has the chance to inject the Israeli elections with much more relevance and give the Israeli public a say in the process and thereby avoid a 4th election.
While we do not know the overall plan, it will likely be a vision for how to achieve peace, not a rigid proposal. This administration has taken a different approach than their predecessors and have actually met with the people who live in the disputed region, so it is not surprising if their outcome is different as well.
The key to actually ending the conflict is having the bravery to live in reality and allow any peace process that is proposed to be based on that truth. It is that need for courageous action that has stymied every US President - until now.
Oded Revivi is the Mayor of Efrat and the Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council of Israeli Mayors in Judea & Samaria