Donald Trump's plan for Israel’s security

The security-based essence of the plan has been one of the fundamentals of Israel’s security doctrine since repelling aggression in the Six Day War.

THE PEACE deal of US President Donald Trump is a game-changer. (photo credit: REUTERS)
THE PEACE deal of US President Donald Trump is a game-changer.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” is arguably the most important statement pertaining to Israel’s political position since the United Nations partition plan of 1947 and the Declaration of Independence in 1948, provided, of course, that its major elements are implemented. It is not an operative peace plan, just as all previous proposals of this sort, whatever their declared intentions, weren’t operative peace plans.
As Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of military intelligence, pointed out at the recent INSS conference, the Palestinians’ falsely believing that history and time are all on their side. They will reject this plan as they have rejected all previous plans, not willing or able to agree to compromise solutions on such matters as refugees, Jerusalem, borders and especially on ideologically acquiescing in the existence of a Jewish national state.
Its primary significance, however, is that it has taken the principle of secure borders noted in UN Security Council Resolution 242 from an abstract formulation ‒ to being a concrete political precept initiated and supported by the world’s major power, the United States of America (and apparently not objected to by major parts of the Arab world).
The security-based essence of the plan, namely Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and security control in the “West Bank,” has been one of the fundamentals of Israel’s security doctrine since repelling aggression in the Six Day War. It was shared in principle, among others, by Dr. Henry Kissinger, who told me back in 1991, “Peace is secondary; security is vital.”
The approach that emphasizes security, including its territorial aspects, is basically non-partisan and reflects the views of Moshe Dayan (“I oppose any settlement that would require the removal of the IDF from Judea and Samaria and those places the army determines it should be present in”), the “Alon Plan,” Yitzhak Rabin, Arik Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as “Blue and White” leader Benny Gantz. The Trump plan is the first time Israel has been accorded the right to set its own security borders.
It should be stressed, however, that this is an American not an Israeli plan, and all that this implies. As Rob Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute (though not a fan of the plan), put it, “A recognition that the Jordan Valley is not some arbitrary ‘Green Line’ boundary left over from the flukes of battlefield deployment in 1949 should be recognized as Israel’s natural security border.”
Another one of the important implications of the plan is the creation of a new paradigm, an up-to-date reference point for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These are no longer the Clinton parameters or previous failed American or international proposals, or those of former Israeli governments.
Some of those had offered almost total submission to the Palestinians’ demands, only to be rejected by them anyway, as they tended to see them as starting points for further claims not solutions for a settlement. In the future, the general outline for any arrangement will thus have to take account of the template of the Trump plan, which even a future Democratic administration would find hard to reverse completely.
THAT SAID, not all potential political and diplomatic obstacles, both in the US and Israel, have been removed from the plan’s path. This was evident from what looked like double-speak, or at least double-think, with regard to the timetable for the annexation of the relevant territories in the Jordan Valley, just as the double-edged reference to the issue of Jerusalem, unless derived from “constructive obfuscation” in the Abba Eban sense, is a harbinger of future problems.
On the other hand, the principle that members of all faiths, Jews, Muslims and Christians, will have a guaranteed right to pray at their respective holy places, first and foremost the Temple Mount, is politically and morally important. Equally important from a political and diplomatic perspective is the plan’s directive that without infringing on Israel’s overall sovereignty, the Kingdom of Jordan’s role on the Temple Mount will be maintained.
How Israeli sovereignty or at least extraterritoriality to isolated settlements outside the large settlement blocs is to be applied is another complex issue, both at the legal and practical levels. To quote Satloff again, it is a “reflection of the demographic reality that peace cannot be practiced on the forced repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers from communities in the West Bank back inside pre-1967-Israel.”
It is also unclear by which criteria the envisioned joint American-Israeli committee will operate with regard to the details of the plan. As the saying goes, God, and sometimes the devil, is in the details. In any event, the plan requires continued close coordination between Israel and the administration on many issues, including, as we have seen, annexation of the pre-designated areas in the Jordan Valley.
It is no coincidence that the question of Palestinian statehood has been the most controversial issue, including on the Israeli side. The underlying guideline of the Trump plan is the eventual two-state principle, which puts an end to the idea of the “one state” or a “state of all of its citizens” notion.
The plan projects a minimum four-year transition period plus a string of clear conditions to the Palestinians on issues such as terrorism, incitement, renunciation of the so-called “right of return,” an end to anti-Israel activities at international forums, etc. It presents a Palestinian state as the final goal, though in practice the present chaotic situation in the Middle East makes it clear that Palestinian statehood any time soon won’t be an option.
Nonetheless, we need to ask, what sort of state eventually? What will its borders be and who will control their entry points? What about Gaza? What kind of timetable is envisioned? What sort of limitations will there be on its sovereignty? And, no less important, what will the political de facto and de jure status of Judea and Samaria be if for whatever reason Palestinian statehood cannot be implemented? All of the above are questions with no easy answers.
The plan is not perfect, including such incongruities as the idea of moving the Arab triangle and its residents to the Palestinian Authority. However, it is the best plan yet, both for Israel and the Palestinians, and certainly deserves an unprejudiced hearing.
The plan has also been castigated, and not only by the usual anti-Israel corner, as one-sided. It is not. It is a pragmatic approach, taking into account realities as they are, positive as well as negative, and not as some want them to be. It looks after Israel’s security concerns and provides extensive economic and political advantages, including future self-governance, to the Palestinians, while setting a mutually beneficial framework for Jewish-Arab coexistence in the land shared by both.
The author is a former ambassador.