The Trump plan might actually be pro-Palestinian

The plan can also be regarded as a reflection or acknowledgment of reality, as it stands today.

Cover -Trumpeting peace Does the US Deal of the Century have a chance? (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cover -Trumpeting peace Does the US Deal of the Century have a chance?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As the novel coronavirus “black swan” casts its shadow over emerging global reality, outstanding challenges exacerbated by the current situation are cast by the wayside. In these times of uncertainty, it is imperative to tirelessly address urgent matters of economy and health. The opportunities for a better future however, demand that we keep sight of the urgent, as well as the important.
Regardless of its outcome, overlooking one issue may constitute a missed opportunity and that is the potential for an “exit strategy” from conceptual captivity; this currently prevents the prospects for prosperity and peace between Israel and the Palestinians. As time seems to be quickly running out, this may be the last moment to reflect on the “Peace to Prosperity” economic plan, even if only for the benefit of possible lessons learned.
Firstly, it is difficult to ignore that discussion surrounding this plan has been dominated and overshadowed by personal politics. The last few years have involved name-calling and mudslinging which have been unhelpful at best, counterproductive at worst. For instance, Ambassador David Friedman has been called a “son of a dog” by Mahmoud Abbas, labeled a “Messianic Settler” by Saeb Erekat, and burned in effigy by an angry mob in Ramallah. Presumably, none of these nor the countless other insults have deterred ongoing efforts, but they have certainly not created an ideal environment for the advancement of prosperity or peace.
Noteworthy, and often neglected from the discourse, is the potential for a paradigm shift in Israeli-Palestinian relations inherent to the plan. Viewed from this perspective, the plan assumes or grants agency to both parties, affording them with equal rights and responsibilities. It focuses on the Palestinian people and their needs, prioritizing them above specific Palestinian leaders, whether in terms of human rights, anti-corruption, or criminal justice. While some may view this depersonalization perhaps as negative, in fact, it harbors the potential for transcending the personal, necessarily taking a step in the direction of furthering the needs of the Palestinian people themselves.
This is important at least to consider, given the allegations and representations regarding the corruption, deception, and questionable legitimacy of the current Palestinian Authority leadership, amongst the people it purports to represent. As trustees of international law and human rights, it would be expected that the international community – obligated to uphold, promote and protect these foundational values – expose and address these fundamental challenges.
UNFORTUNATELY, LITTLE has been done in this direction. Through this lens, it appears that previous administrations may have done a disservice to the Palestinian people, elevating its’ leadership, while failing to demand accountability. Further, though the Arab nations have openly recognized this challenge and expressed fatigue at throwing more good money after bad, the Western world lags slowly behind, to the detriment of the Palestinian people.
Under the circumstances, it may seem unlikely to label this US administration as pro-Palestinian, but perhaps that is what it is? The proposed plan does not reward a rejectionist Palestinian Authority simply because that is the historic norm or because the US played a leading role in its establishment. Rather, it seeks to sanction the refusal to come to the negotiation table and to maintaining this hopeless state of affairs for its population, encouraging it to take responsibility, ultimately enabling the beginning of a process towards prosperity and peace.
The plan can also be regarded as a reflection or acknowledgment of reality, as it stands today. Perhaps this is one of the reasons it was met with such vehement resistance, from many directions. It set out clear and attainable goals for the Palestinians in order to achieve recognized statehood – their ultimate stated desire. These goals include – but are not limited to – freedom of the press, freedom of religion, transparency of government and the disarmament of terrorists and the recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist.
The international community regularly condemns Israel for alleged moral offenses, but has thus far overlooked the premise that a Palestinian state seeks to be“judenrein.” This is a Nazi term used to describe a geographic location as cleansed from Jews.
It has overlooked the fact that Palestinian government officials are reportedly billionaires, while the Palestinian economy is on the brink of collapse, year after year. It has overlooked the fact that Abbas was elected to a four-year term 13 years ago, and that an entire generation of today’s children – tomorrow’s leaders – have been poisoned by toxic antisemitic rhetoric, not only preached by PA leadership and religious clergy, but ensconced in the textbooks used by every single Palestinian pupil. This double standard in expectation and application of principles of law, morality and human rights undermines and weakens the Palestinian people and decreases the chance for a better future.
The possibility integral to this plan exposes and confronts displays of bigotry, moving beyond barely minimal expectations which have guided processes thus far. It recognizes that the Palestinians are capable of succeeding and stabilizing the region. A state, as contemplated by the vision for peace, if ever achieved, would allow the greatest opportunities for all people in the region, Israelis and Palestinians.
As we turn our attention to addressing urgent coronavirus-related matters and before the window of opportunity seals shut – in the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians and in the interests of peace – we should at least consider casting the personal aside. The potential paradigm shift inherent to the plan, places Israelis and Palestinians as two peoples with a shared desire and means of achieving it.
This is something on which peace-seeking individuals the world over might be able to agree. Herein lies the power if and when it can be seized. Herein lies the pity if and when it will be wasted.
The writer is an MK on behalf of the Blue and White Party in Israel’s 23rd Knesset. @CotlerWunsh