Former Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once said the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Within minutes of President Trump proposing his Middle East Peace Plan, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas had rejected the plan with “a thousand no’s” coupled with a string of epithets rarely seen in international diplomacy.
This abject lack of vision and leadership by Palestinian President Abbas is tragic, for the children and grandchildren of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
The state of Israel comprises a minuscule portion of land in the Middle East, yet it has become a global center of democracy, culture, commerce, and innovation. Israel truly is a light unto the world and a solemn promise to the Jewish people that we will never again repeat history’s darkest hour. The hearts and history of America and Israel are intertwined.
As such, President Trump has done more to support Israel than perhaps any president since Israel’s formation in 1948. From moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem to recognizing the Golan Heights to withdrawing America from the ill-conceived Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has led in word and deed. And thanks to the courage of U.S. forces, the barbaric ISIS caliphate has been destroyed and its leader, Al-Baghdadi, is dead. More recently, the world’s top remaining terrorist, Qasem Soleimani, has been eliminated. Extraordinary progress is being made and a growing number of nations are taking strong stances against terrorism and radicalization.
The Middle East is changing rapidly. Young people across the Middle East are ready for a more hopeful future, and governments throughout the region are realizing that terrorism and Islamic extremism are everyone's common enemy. Civilized nations share the same goals – stamping out extremism and creating opportunity for the region’s youth.
The Palestinian people are no different. While President Abbas and his family have accumulated a lavish fortune on the backs of the Palestinian people, everyday Palestinians continue to struggle to eke out marginal livelihoods. They have grown distrustful after years of unfulfilled promises. They deserve better.
Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan is fundamentally different from past proposals. In the past, even the most well-intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual frameworks. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which also was immediately rejected by President Abbas, was only about one page long. But the reality is that complex problems require nuanced remedies. This plan is 80 pages in length, making it the most detailed proposal ever put forward.
The Trump Peace Plan would offer Israel control of all of the holy sites, with Jordan maintaining its current control of the Temple Mount. It would give Israel control of parts of the current West Bank where virtually all of the major Israeli settlement blocks are, and also of the entire Jordan Valley, creating a natural buffer zone. But the plan is well-thought-out and balanced, offering the Palestinians geographic contiguity and control over its current population centers in cities like Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, and Jericho, along with a massive $50 billion commercial investment to give them the opportunity to seize a new future with dignity, self-sufficiency, and national pride, to ensure a successful Palestinian state.
The Peace Plan calls for the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence. This includes adopting basic laws and human rights, protecting against financial and political corruption, and dismantling terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace. It also calls for the Palestinians to recognize the existence of Israel as a Jewish state while providing technical and infrastructural solutions to make Israelis, Palestinians, and the region safer and more prosperous.
Importantly, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his political rival for the Premiership, Benny Gantz, have accepted the plan. In attendance at the White House announcement were the Ambassadors of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, indicating strengthening relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states.
President Trump and his team should be commended for putting forth a plan that is bold and visionary, while also being comprehensive and realistic.