Israel’s Right needs to realize Washington isn’t stupid - Analysis
The Right has no problem playing up the once-in-a-generation significance of the US peace plan as well as President Donald Trump’s friendship with Israel.
By YAAKOV KATZ
In some parts of the Trump administration, there is a feeling since last Tuesday that some politicians and members of Israel’s political Right think they are fools.Otherwise, it’s difficult to explain why elements on the Israeli Right think that they can talk about immediate annexation of the Jordan Valley and some 150 settlements in Judea and Samaria and, at the same time, say publicly that they will never allow the establishment of a Palestinian State with a presence in parts of east Jerusalem.Not only is it difficult to explain to American ears, it also hurts the Right’s cause. The Right has no problem playing up the once-in-a-generation significance of the US peace plan, as well as President Donald Trump’s friendship with Israel, but at the same time insult the plan his son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner has spearheaded for the last three years.To understand this it is enough to read the plan and see that is not about annexation. It wasn’t written over the last three years so the Yesha Council could declare victory and realize the dream it started some 52 years ago after the Six Day War. The plan is about statehood for the Palestinians and security for Israel. Accepting Israeli sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley is one result of a larger desire to achieve those two objectives: Palestinian independence and security for the State of Israel.But this means, as one person familiar with the current thinking in Washington explained, that Israel cannot just take the candy (annexation). It also needs to agree to the medicine (Palestinian statehood).Part of the problem that led to this situation is that the US released the plan during an Israeli election season when all politicians are going to automatically think about how they can use the plan for political gain.AdvertisementApparently, the peace team – consisting of Kushner, Avi Berkowitz and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman – was left with two options: either release the plan now or not until after the election on November 3. Netanyahu seemingly thought he could push the boundaries and maybe get away with immediate annexation and in return gain some votes on the Right. He was wrong.Netanyahu’s other mistake was that he raised high expectations on the Right. While the plan is undoubtedly an achievement he can take credit for, all the talk of Israel being on the verge of annexing large swaths of the West Bank raised expectations so high that when the dream didn’t come true, the disappointment was just as great.The Americans though were not initially prepared for the immediate annexation drive. Even if Trump used the word “immediate” in his remarks on Tuesday at the White House, he did not mean that it should happen without coordination with the US and within a few days.First, the joint committee – consisting of three Americans and three Israelis – has to meet, go over maps, satellite footage and borders, and then decide on what can be annexed, where and when.Is it possible that something can be done in the coming weeks and before the March 2 election? Maybe. The bulk though is not expected to move forward until after Israelis go to the polls.In the meantime, a suggestion: To all those hailing the plan and pushing for annexation, read the plan. It’s available online. You might learn a thing or two.
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