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David Singer explains how President-elect Donald Trump’s policy toward the West Bank is different from the policies of his predecessors and suggests that Trump recognize Jordan as Israel’s partner in negotiations regarding this area.
Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Channel 2 News
President-elect Donald Trump has used his greatest media critic – the New York Times – to reiterate his determination to broker a deal to end the 100-year-old Jewish-Arab conflict, suggesting his son-in-law Jared Kushner might be just the person to advance his declared mission.
Trump’s legendary deal-making prowess sets him apart from all preceding American presidents — from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama – Democrats and Republicans – liberals and conservatives alike — who have tried to end this intractable conflict and earn themselves an honored place in the annals of history.
Instead, their legacy of failure remains a silent reminder that presidential power and prestige is of little value in moving Jews and Arabs to achieve a historic reconciliation.
Kushner possesses the firepower to advance Trump’s agenda following this ground-breaking message from Trump’s advisor Jason Greenblatt, co-chairman of the Trump campaign’s Israel Advisory Committee:
“It is certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activities should be condemned and that it is an obstacle for peace, because it is not an obstacle for peace.”
Trump’s position runs counter to the view expressed by the international community that Jews have no legal right to live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), an area comprising some 4% of the former territory of Palestine, a claim that remains untested in any court of law.
Such conclusion ignores the rights vested in the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Judea and Samaria under article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
To call the international community’s position “a travesty of justice” is an understatement. The harm such flawed viewpoint has caused in prolonging this long-running conflict is inestimable.
Kushner will also be fortified by the following commitment made by President George W. Bush to Israel in his letter dated 14 April 2004, which was overwhelmingly endorsed at the time by Congress (502 votes to 12):
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
Israel’s current negotiating partner – the Palestine Liberation Organization – has consistently refused to accept the inevitability of any territorial subdivision of Judea and Samaria since the Bush-Congress pronouncement. There appears to be no chance of any change of heart by the PLO to please a Trump administration.
Trump will therefore need to find another Arab interlocutor to replace the PLO to negotiate with Israel on the allocation of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Sovereignty there has remained unresolved since Brexit 1948 – the year Great Britain pulled out of Palestine and left the United Nations to deal with the consequences of the invasion of Western Palestine the very next day by the armies of six neighboring Arab States.
Jordan was the last Arab State to occupy Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967.
Jordan and Israel – at peace since 1994 – both enjoy longstanding American financial and diplomatic support, which can be leveraged by a deal-driven Trump to induce Jordan joining Israel as its negotiating partner on the territorial carve up of Judea and Samaria.
Without this diplomatic breakthrough, Trump’s dream of pulling off the deal of the century will remain just a dream.