Please, be sure to read this to the end.
I turn first today to President Trump’s State of the Union address, delivered on Tuesday night.
I found it to be brilliantly executed. But what resonated most strongly for me were the values he espoused. I have been mourning big-time for America. Yet here he was, getting it right (double entendre intended), and socking it to the far left members of Congress.
Again and again I wanted to cheer – with regard to his taking on obscene late-term abortions, championing of quality education for all, honoring those who sacrifice for the country, announcing a strengthened military, standing against sanctuary cities, focusing on the accomplishments of Black Americans, and much more.
Pelosi’s behavior—tearing up the text of the address on camera as the president was concluding—was a shameful and childish act.
At this point she and fellow House Democrats are enormously frustrated by the president’s acquittal on impeachment charges. The fact that they would surely have anticipated this outcome is what makes it all so vile. This was not a serious political process: They were engaged in vaudeville, aimed at delegitimizing the president.
Fervently do I wish they would now turn to running the country. But they won’t, and I don’t intend to look at this further now. I will simply share yesterday’s statement by Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel:
“Today’s vote to acquit President Trump ends the latest political witch hunt, a dark moment in our nation’s history that wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
“Once again, Democrats have failed in their quest to erase the votes of 63 million Americans and destroy a duly-elected President. The American people won today, but they will not forget the division that Democrats brought upon our country for three years.” (Emphasis added)
As to that hurdle: I am referring, of course, to the “Deal of the Century.” Above, I praised President Trump. But he is not always right (who is?), and I intend to call it as I see it.
I believe that when he took office he was genuinely convinced that, by shaping a different sort of plan, he would be able to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. But that was not a realistic goal. He did bring a different approach, but the reality is that no approach will work.
There is no way to honor Israel’s rights to the land and Israeli’s security needs, and attend to the demands of the Palestinian Arabs at the same time. Daniel Pipes is correct: there can only be peace when the Palestinian Arabs are sufficiently vanquished so that they relinquish those demands and concede that whatever they can get – perhaps an autonomy on some portion of the land that allows for control over local affairs – is better for them than what they have now.
For peace to be real, they would have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and sign off on end of conflict. They would rather die than do that.
The more I consider the “Deal,” the more I see problems with it. There are certainly elements in the map that cause unease. There is not only the very troubling matter of the tunnel/bridge proposed to run between Gaza and Judea & Samaria, but other areas in Judea & Samaria that would be in the Palestinian state and are problematic from a security perspective.
See, for example, this Times of Israel blog from David Haivri:
“Small Israeli towns would end up deep in a Palestinian zone — that’s a death warrant for individuals and entire communities.”
It is not clear to me that the Israelis who will sit on that committee tasked with making adjustments to the map would be able to rectify all of those problems. But it does seem that attempting to make those adjustments before applying sovereignty in certain areas would be wise: One argument for not rushing.
Although, there are other areas that are not problematic and might have sovereignty applied now, and other arguments for acting post-haste: There is some fear that if the opportunity is not grabbed, it will be lost entirely.
Whatever the various arguments, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that he will not advance sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria until after the election on March 2.
Many had hoped he would do this sooner, but this is his decision. It runs counter to earlier statements he made, but what has occurred since he made those statements has been out of his control. On Tuesday, he said:
“We in the Likud cannot allow this historic opportunity to slip away from us. We brought it and we are here to realize it. But to secure it, to secure Israel’s borders, to secure Israel’s future, I need this time that all Likud members, all Likudniks, will come out to vote. This time we are going to bring everyone out of their houses, we will not give up on everyone…”
One guess here is that Jared Kushner signaled that he was not willing to work with Israel on sovereignty until after the election because it would be difficult to defend such action made by an interim government ‒ particularly (and especially) as it has become apparent that there will be much opposition.
There is a solid argument to be made for Netanyahu moving ahead anyway, even if Kushner is not on board. But this kind of action is not consistent with Netanyahu’s modus operandi. However I might have called it, I am not inclined to criticize him now, because I am not privy to what may be going on behind the scenes.
What unsettles me are threats by certain leaders in Judea & Samaria – notably Yossi Dagan (pictured below with Netanyahu), head of the Samaria Council – to campaign against him if he does not apply sovereignty now. They may be only threats, but what a colossal mistake that would be. Campaign against Netanyahu and increase Gantz’s chances of getting in?? A classic case of cutting off one’s nose.
What then are the potential benefits to Israel of this “Deal”?
I believe the primary one, by far, is the recognition that Israel has rights in Judea & Samaria and the Jordan Valley. This policy shift by the US will resonant down the road, regardless of what happens now. The diplomatic dialogue has shifted.
As Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of Jewish Virtual Library, sees it, the most important shift involves putting the onus on the Palestinian Arabs. “Trump is now saying the Palestinians must take a host of steps if they want statehood…It never made sense that the stronger party, which captured the territory in a defensive war, and that has legitimate political, historical, and religious claims to the West Bank, would be the one to make all the concessions.
“…The plan also allows for acting now to change the status quo rather than waiting for the Palestinians to agree to negotiate…Trump will not allow progress to be held hostage by Palestinian intransigence…
“…it will fail, but it has reset the baseline for negotiations.”
The criteria set up in the “Deal” for the Palestinian Arabs to have a state are reasonable: cessation of incitement, demilitarizing Hamas, establishment of the guideposts of a democracy, etc. Reasonable from the perspective of Israel’s security, of course, but also from the perspective of those who would invest those billions in the Palestinian state. They have no interest in funding a failing terror entity. Unless the Arabs meet these guidelines, money will not be forthcoming.
So the Palestinian Arabs could sign on, but they will not.
The question that I ponder, and to which I have no real answer, is whether Jared Kushner understands this. Does he still imagine that ultimately they will come along to make a better life for the people, or, in his heart of hearts does he know very well they will not.
And if he knows that they will not, is this simply a way to expose them and then move on without them?
It would be nice to imagine that the international community, or the Western countries, at least, understands the need for the Palestinian Arabs to come forward in peaceful gestures. For the most part, however, this is not remotely the case either.
“Less than 24 hours after the European Union’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borell, declared that ‘steps towards annexation [of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank], if implemented, could not pass unchallenged,’ European threats have been turned into action.
“[On Tuesday] the European Union announced a special grant of €6 million to illegal outposts established by the Palestinian Authority as strategic tools for territorial annexation in Area C.
“[The] announcement provided details of a special aid package, provided by the EU and the government of Denmark, for infrastructure projects in 15 illegal clusters established by the PA in Area C…”
The upside of this story involves the reason that Borell put out his announcement about steps towards annexation…not passing unchallenged. On Tuesday, he had tried to convince the 27 European foreign ministers who are members of the union’s Foreign Affairs Council to agree to a unanimous resolution opposing the “Deal.”
Six nations blocked him, refusing to participate. Among them, Italy, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, and at least two other unnamed nations. This represents progress.
It also led Borell to issue his own statement and follow with action (that did not require unanimity).
In the wake of the announcement about the “Deal,”an increase in terrorism was inevitable: We’ve already been dealing with rockets and balloons from Gaza, but now there is more.
In the early morning, a group of Golani recruits, not yet sworn in, were on a “heritage tour” prior to their ceremony at the Kotel, when they were the victims of a terror car ramming (pay no attention to the news items that say “suspected terror car ramming”). The ramming took place on David Remez Street in Jerusalem, near the First Station. They were standing on the sidewalk when the car came at them at high speed and then fled.
In all, 12 young soldiers were hurt. One of them, in critical condition, has injuries to the head and over his body. He is unconscious and connected to a respirator in intensive care.
IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman explained, “This happened in seconds. We understand that some soldiers tried to put magazines into their guns and tried to go after the car, but this happened quickly.”
My friends, even after all these years, I cannot accept such news calmly – nor should I ever.
We are speaking about innocents, 18 and 19 year olds, on their way to pledge themselves to service to our nation. My eyes are filled with tears. But in my heart, there is rage.
After the attack, the unit did go to the Kotel for prayers. Here you see the recruits, who held their swearing-in ceremony this evening at their base. Three of those who had been rammed were able to be released from the hospital and attended on crutches.
“No terror attack can stop us,” said Golani Brigade commander Shai Kalper.
After a manhunt by combined security forces, the driver of the car, which had been abandoned in Beit Jala, was caught at the Gush Etzion Junction. The Shin Bet identified him as a 25-year-old resident of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur.
In another attack today, a terrorist later identified as an Israeli citizen from Haifa, apparently a convert to Islam, opened fire at a group of police officers near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. He lightly injured one Border Police officer, and was himself shot dead by other officers on the scene.
And in a third attack, outside of Dolev, in the Binyamin Regional Council, one soldier was lightly wounded in a drive-by shooting. I have no information on the apprehension of the shooter.
On Wednesday, Hamas had posted a statement on its official website: “We call for escalating confrontations with the occupation and its settlers and fighting their assaults against the land and holy sites…”
From the office of Mahmud Abbas came a statement indicating that the “Deal of the Century” has “created this atmosphere of escalation and tension by trying to impose fake facts on the ground…
“Any deal that does not meet the rights of our people and does not aim to make a just and comprehensive peace will inevitably lead to this escalation that we are witnessing today.”
The benefits of a “peace deal,” huh?
Additional troops are being sent into Judea & Samaria. I pray for everyone responsible – the prime minister, the minister of defense, the chief of staff – to respond to this with an iron fist. I will undoubtedly have more.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.