How Israel Can Fix the U.S. Peace Plan, and Why It Should

June 8, 2020 | Moshe Koppel
About the author: Moshe Koppel is a member of the department of computer science at Bar-Ilan University and chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.

Currently Jerusalem is mulling plans to apply sovereignty to certain areas of the West Bank with negligible Palestinian populations, following parameters set forth in the peace proposal the Trump administration released in January. Moshe Koppel comments on how best to proceed:

There are two purposes in applying Israeli law [to parts of Judea and Samaria]: 1) to regulate and normalize life through unified, modern laws and to allow for long-term planning and 2) to make it clear that Israel is here for eternity. According to the Trump plan, the application of Israeli law entails a construction freeze and the start of a process that could theoretically end with a Palestinian state. The plan is very good for Israel, but two steps must be taken to ensure that the blessing doesn’t turn into a curse.

The first step is for Israel and the U.S. to sign a memorandum of understanding in which Washington will promise to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state until the Palestinians fulfill all eight of the conditions of the [American] plan, which they will most likely never do. It is important to remember that Donald Trump won’t always be president. Agreement on a map brings us closer to a Palestinian state without the conditions being fulfilled if a less friendly president moves into the White House. A signed memorandum might not bind the hands of another president, but American tradition would make it very hard for that president to ignore it.

The second step is to improve the maps attached to the Trump plan. Let’s tell the truth: these maps were drawn up in an almost criminally amateur manner. The current maps annex nearly 100,000 Arabs in the area of Biddu and Beit Lakiya to Israel and cut off entire cities from adjacent roads, as well as other elementary mistakes.

To make the maps viable, there is no need to institute major changes. The conceptual map gives Israel 32.4 percent of Judea and Samaria. Maintaining that same percentage, we could apply Israeli law to all settlements and the Jordan Valley, including the allocation of land for settlements, corridors to connect communities, and major transportation arteries. None of this would require bringing any Arab village inside the new lines.

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