President Trump’s decision to reverse his partial US government shutdown – the longest in history – could have important consequences for the release of his long-awaited plan to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict – postponed yet again until after Israel’s elections in April.
Trump’s shut down – aimed at forcing Congress to negotiate on Trump’s election promises to build a wall to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling through a porous border with Mexico – failed in the face of Congress’s unequivocal demand that Trump first reopen the government.
Trump’s supporters are angry and confused at his cave-in to Congress’s demand whilst his detractors are jubilant – as three weeks of negotiations between Trump and Congress now try to resolve the Trump-Congress stand-off.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) will feel vindicated – after Congress’s resolute stance – in having refused – sight unseen – to negotiate Trump’s peace plan with Israel after Trump had recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The PLO will be emboldened to continue rejecting Trump’s proposals until Trump reverses his decisions on Jerusalem.
The Wall Street Journal on 11 November 2016 exclusively revealed president-elect Trump’s intentions to make an “ultimate deal” for “humanity’s sake” on “the war that never ends”.
The further delay in releasing his deal comes as the PLO now assumes virtual control of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proceedings for 2019 – as chairman of the 134 member Group comprising the G77 and China – ensuring a barrage of UNGA resolutions condemning Trump’s deal when published.
Trump’s attempts to woo Jordan, Egypt and possibly other Arab states to replace the PLO in negotiations with Israel remains a work in progress. Trump’s chances of now succeeding – after his surrender to Congress – appear to have diminished greatly.
The upcoming Israeli elections will give Israelis the chance to vote on the future direction Israel’s new government should take in resolving the future of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza (“disputed territories”) – the last remaining 5 per cent of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine where sovereignty still remains unallocated between Arabs and Jews.
The choices offered to Israeli voters should be explicitly spelt out by the political parties contesting the elections. The newly-elected government’s stated policy should be implemented. This basic premise of democracy has been undermined in America as Trump’s election commitment to build his promised border wall remains unfulfilled because of Congress’s opposition.
Trump should not similarly attempt to thwart the mandate of Israel’s next government.
Trump should shelve his long-overdue ultimate deal indefinitely – due to the changed circumstances that have demonstrably arisen since his well-intentioned thought bubble in November 2016.
Instead – Trump should:
- Pledge his Government’s full support for Israel’s next duly elected Government
- Reaffirm the core commitments made by President Bush to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Bush’s letter dated 14 April 2004 – endorsed overwhelmingly by the Congress by 502 votes to 12 (“Bush/Congress Commitments”).
- Opposing any peace plan other than the 2003 Bush Roadmap
- Being strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.
- Not supporting any right of return by Palestinian refugees to Israel
- Regarding as unrealistic a full and complete withdrawal from the disputed territories.
Peace will remain elusive – but Trump will have saved himself from drowning in a cesspool that has swallowed previous American presidents who believed they had the answer to ending this unresolved 100 years old conflict.
(Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog)