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Perspectives on the Trump Administration Plan

January 29, 2020
Posted by: JCRC Staff

The U.S. this week released a plan, Peace to Prosperity, A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The San Francisco-based Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is committed to a secure, vibrant, democratic and Jewish State of Israel. JCRC has long held a consensus in support of a “two-state solution to end the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, in which both parties co-exist with fully normalized diplomatic relations, in mutual cooperation that promotes the economic development and social welfare of their respective citizens.”

JCRC’s consensus position supports “direct negotiations between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward the attainment of a compromise agreement that will sufficiently fulfill the aspirations of both peoples so that they can eventually live together in peace and security.”

In the absence of a political solution, JCRC has focused its attention on supporting on-the-ground efforts between Israelis and Palestinians that move these societies toward a shared future of coexistence and prosperity through its Invest in Peace initiative and by advocacy on behalf of the Partnership Fund for Peace to scale up and fully fund these kinds of transformative programs.

While the subject of Israeli settlements in the West Bank remains a contested issue in the American Jewish community, JCRC believes that the main cause of continued conflict is the long history of Palestinian rejection of Israel’s successive peace offers: “Successive Israeli governments have made clear their willingness to trade land for real peace, including offers to give up the overwhelming majority of the West Bank. Yet those offers have repeatedly been rejected.” Furthermore, Palestinian recognition and acceptance of Israel and rejection of violence are requirements for a true and lasting peace: “A Palestinian government that does not fully accept Israel as its neighbor, and is not fundamentally opposed to violence and terrorism, is a recipe for disaster.”

On January 28, 2020, the Trump Administration released its long-anticipated proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The lengthy document lays out a vision and a detailed plan, including maps, for resolving the conflict. Some of the highlights include:

  • It would give Israel sovereignty over approximately 30 percent of the West Bank, including all settlements and the Jordan Valley, and create a future state of Palestine in the other 70 percent, with land swaps, if the Palestinian Authority meets specific conditions over the next four years.
  • Israel would be required to freeze expansion of the footprint of all settlements for a period of four years.
  • Israel would retain security control over a demilitarized Palestinian state, which would be required to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Jerusalem “will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city,” with some neighborhoods in East Jerusalem being allotted for a Palestinian capital.
  • It rejects what Palestinians call the “Right of Return.”
  • It also contains an expansive plan for developing the Palestinian economy.
  • It acknowledges concerns about the uprooting of Jewish refugees as well as about the status of Palestinian refugees and provides a framework for resolving these issues.

JCRC does not have a consensus position on this plan, but will continue to be informed by its existing consensus statements. JCRC has historically supported a constructive U.S. role in peacemaking. At the same time, JCRC strongly believes that the final status issues such as settlements, Jerusalem and borders need to be negotiated by both parties and “urges a fair, reasonable, and practical resolution to both Middle East refugee populations – Palestinians and the Jews from Arab countries – that arose as a result of the Arab‐Israeli conflict.” JCRC also believes that “Jerusalem is the united, undivided and eternal capital of Israel,” and, at the same time, being one of the final status issues that needs to be resolved through negotiation.

Reactions to the new peace plan have varied widely. The leaders of Israel’s two largest parties, Likud and Blue and White, have hailed the plan and called for its implementation. At the same time, strong reservations have been expressed from both ends of the political spectrum in Israel, and the Palestinians have outright rejected the plan.

Israel’s Arab leadership has rejected the plan’s suggestion that the “triangle” communities in Israel be swapped to a future Palestinian state. JCRC’s positions in support of equal opportunity for all of Israel’s citizens could also be inconsistent with this proposal.

Reaction in the Arab world has been varied. Notably, ambassadors from Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement at the White House. In a statement, Egypt said it “appreciates the continuous efforts” of the Trump administration to end the conflict. It encouraged both sides to resume talks that might eventually restore to Palestinians their “full legitimate rights through the establishment of a sovereign independent state.” Saudi Arabia also weighed in: “The kingdom appreciates the efforts of President Trump’s administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, and encourages the start of direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States.”

In the United States, those who support the plan believe it is a good framework and starting point for negotiations and implore the Palestinian Authority to come back to the negotiating table instead of outright rejecting it.

Those who oppose the plan are concerned that, among other things, the plan will not lead to a viable and contiguous future Palestinian state. Of particular concern, they argue, is the plan’s provision for Israel annexing all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. For example, according to the Israeli Policy Forum, “unilateral annexation will be the first step toward making Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state less assured, will heighten the risks of Israel having to take over the entire West Bank, and will dangerously erode Israel’s security.”

In the coming weeks, JCRC will be studying the peace plan and engaging in conversation with the community on its possible impact. It remains to be seen what exactly the implications will be for JCRC’s continued Israel education and outreach efforts. Regardless, JCRC will continue to advocate for a strong, secure Jewish and democratic state of Israel and a just and lasting peace, as well as the maintenance of strong bipartisan support for Israel.

FURTHER READING

Resources

Text of Plan
Remarks by President Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu

Related JCRC Consensus Statements:

Statements from National Jewish Organizations

AIPAC
ALLMEP
Ameinu
American Jewish Committee
Israel Policy Forum
Jewish Democratic Council of America
JStreet
Progressive Zionists of California
Republican Jewish Coalition
StandWithUs
URJ

Analyses and Opinion Pieces

Borders, security, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees: Key elements of Trump plan,” Times of Israel
Trump releases long-awaited Middle-East peace plan,” BBC
How Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan Developed,” Wall Street Journal
The Trump Plan: What’s Next?” The Institute for National Security Studies
Palestinian Reactions to the Trump Plan,” Washington Institute
Why the Palestinian leadership should not reject Trump’s peace plan,” The Jerusalem Post
How does Trump’s partition plan compare?” Times of Israel
Don’t Reject Trump’s Peace Plan. Change It.” New York Times
Is Trump Bibi’s Chump?” New York Times
Donald Trump, the destroyer,”The Forward
Trump plan won’t bring peace, helps Netanyahu, raises risk of binational state,” Times of Israel
Arab Leaders’ Support for Mideast Peace Plan Marks a Regional Shift,” Wall Street Journal
The Trump peace plan is a squeeze play against the Palestinians. It might work.” Washington Post
The Opponents of Peace,” Commentary Magazine
Arab Israelis reject Trump's 'transfer' plan,” The Jerusalem Post
Nearly half of Jewish Israelis oppose unilateral West Bank annexation – poll,” Times of Israel
Can Israel legally implement the ‘Deal of the Century?’” The Jerusalem Post
"Trump’s peace plan won’t have a chance unless Israel shows restraint on annexation," Washington Post
"Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose," New York Times
"Understanding the Trump Peace Plan with David Makovsky," JCPA Webiner
"Special Live Briefing with Jason Greenblatt," JFNA Webinar