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Behind the U.S. Peace Plan: Why Mahmoud Abbas is in the “Hot Seat” – Beyond the Matrix [audio] 🎧

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been meeting with leaders of the Yesha Council in an attempt to resolve disagreements over the proposed map outlining the borders of a prospective Palestinian state. Netanyahu’s efforts come among stark interim opposition to the U.S. peace plan, by some settler leaders, led by David Elhayani, Yesha Council Chairman, and head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council. More moderate settler leaders, such as Efrat mayor Oded Revivi, back the U.S. vision and support the fresh unity government, in the Jerusalem Post’s recent article “Trump’s Peace Plan Pits Settler Ideologues against Pragmatists,” which captures this tension. Defense Minister Benny Gantz has instructed the IDF to prepare for the application of Israeli sovereignty beginning July 1, 2020. The Western media and many in the EU are “anguishing’ over this prospect. The reality of the Trump plan differs from media and diplomatic perception. It is not Israeli “annexation” that is under discussion. Annexation only occurs when one sovereign state unilaterally annexes the land of another sovereign state. That is clearly not the case here. It is the declared intention of Israel to apply civilian law over the Jordan Rift Valley which has been an issue of wall to wall public, political, and security consensus in Israel since June 1967, when Israel was forced to conquer the former Jordanian controlled West Bank to which it ceded claims in July, 1988. Israel would apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, that includes some 25,000 Arabs in villages and towns, who would remain under Palestinian Authority rule, or would possibly receive Israeli residency or citizenship. The current U.S. peace plan is the first program to recognize Israel’s historical and legal rights and vital security requirements for defensible borders, which has been, since 1967, a Labor party security concept that defined Israeli government and security principles for the Jordan Valley and the Judea Samaria hill ridge, in the context of Israel’s presence in that region. According to Dan Diker, director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), the U.S. peace plan is a “game changer.” Unlike five decades of failed prior U.S. peace proposals, the current plan recognizes Israel’s security interests first, and then builds a diplomatic strategy to achieve a secure peace that can be defended on the ground. Past plans started with demanding Israeli concessions and granting Palestinian demands, and then attempted to figure out how to enable Israel to defend itself. That is why four prior U.S. sanctioned peace plans since Camp David in 2000 failed miserably. There is something more afoot: the U.S. peace plan may be a “breakthrough” putting the Palestinian Authority on the veritable “hot seat.” A recent Israel Hayom article by Ariel Kahana, “Times are Changing”, reported under the radar support for Israel’s plans at the highest government levels in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, other gulf states, and even in Jordan and Egypt. Sources close to the leadership in these countries have been quoted as saying that their leaders are tired of being “played” by Mahmoud Abbas and the corrupt PLO-Fatah leadership regarding their self-inflicted grievances. At the same time, Arab kingdoms and states are concerned about confronting the regional threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. The May 19, 2020 declaration by Abbas, ending agreements with Israel under the Oslo II accords of 1995 may have been the last straw. Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh wrote about the consequences in a JCPA analysis, “Mahmoud Abbas’s Strategy of Selective Compliance.” They noted: “Abbas’ latest threat illustrated the effectiveness of the PA leader’s media and diplomatic campaign against Israel. Major international news media outlets and Western diplomats did not see the move as a material breach of the Palestinian leadership’s legal obligations under the Oslo Accords. Abbas’ public announcement abandoning signed agreements with Israel under the Oslo Accords is neither an unprecedented nor isolated event. Abbas’ undiplomatic rhetoric and attacks on Israel and the United States disregarded accepted diplomatic practice. His statements, threats, and actions reflect a broader strategy of selective compliance to agreements since signing the first of the Oslo Accords with Israel in September 1993. For its part, Israel erred in remaining silent over Palestinian violations for many of the 27 years of the Oslo agreements for fear of losing Palestinian partnership and international support. Israel has paid a high international price in its own state legitimacy over the past two decades for failing to expose and protest the violations of Oslo”. Against this background, Rod Reuven, Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon brought back Dan Diker of the JCPA to address these issues. Here are some of the takeaways. Impact on Palestinian Arabs. Sixty percent of Palestinian Arab responded in polls that the Palestinian Authority leaders are corrupt and need to be replaced. The 35,000 Palestinians employed in both Jewish and Palestinian owned businesses in Area C have seven times the average per capita GDP than their counterparts in the Palestinian authority; perhaps the highest in surrounding Arab countries. Why Yesha Council members are divided over the Trump Plan. Yossi Dagan of the Samaria Regional Council remains critical as he thinks it will result in a terrorist State of Palestine, leading to the destruction of Israel. Diker contends that a full reading of the 182 pages of the Trump peace plan stresses demilitarization of Palestinian forces and negotiations of Israel security “footprint” in strategic areas, e.g., the Jordan Valley approaches and Judean Hills. Why Efrat Mayor and Former Yesha Council Envoy Oded Ravivi is in favor of the Trump Peace Plan. Diker and family are residents of Efrat in Judea. He has started a podcast with long term Mayor, Likud Party member, and former Yesha Council Foreign Envoy Oded Revivi, to present a nuanced approach to normalization facilitated by adoption of the peace plan. In her Jerusalem Post article, Tovah Lazaroff noted Revivi’s ‘pragmatism: “Revivi broke early with the Yesha Council over the Trump peace plan, arguing that the historic opportunity for sovereignty is worth the compromises inherent in the plan. In support of the Trump plan, he has been uncharacteristically blunt and outspoken, including writing opinion pieces and actively engaging on Twitter. He is among those who believe that Israel can safely support the plan without worrying about the creation of a Palestinian state, because he believes that Palestinians will meet U.S. dictates for the creation of such a state. Revivi has likened the Trump plan to the 1947 UN partition plan. The issues inherent in that plan did not stop the Jewish leadership of the time from grasping that opportunity and, he argues, the settler leadership should take that same stand now”. Why Does the US Peace Plan put the PA in the “Hot Seat”? The PA leadership routine response of “no” to all previous offers of independence since 1936 has failed. Their lone mantra of using terrorism and political warfare to attempt to take the Palestine Mandate territories from “the river to the sea” has also failed. The Palestinian leadership has refused nine offers since 1936. The Clinton deal with former prime minister Ehud Barak in 2000 gave them some 94 percent of what they wanted, and it was still rejected. The current U.S. peace plan recognizes the Jewish legal rights east of 1967 lines in the Jewish People’s ancient, biblical heartland The plan provides a $50 billion development budget to build “a Hong Kong on the Mediterranean” and a “Macau” to enable a viable first world economy that will establish upper middle classes on the West Bank. It ends the money tree of donor aid that made the “Kleptocratic” Fatah leadership multi- and centi-millionaires. The PLO has deceived the American public with fake and cynical victimization grievances while incentivizing and financing terrorism to the tune of 350 million dollars of the PA budget in 2019. It is a moment of truth for the Palestinians. How United is Israel’s National Emergency Government? It is a broad-based government with Likud and the Gantz breakaway from Blue and White, the Labor Parties, and both ultra-orthodox religious parties. Yemina, which is presently in opposition, could enter later. Diker assesses the unity government is set up to last three to four years, with Netanyahu having the first rotation term of one and half years, with Gantz taking the second term. Diker senses the desire and commitment to political and economic stability in the Israeli polity after two failed elections and the ongoing COVID- 19 crisis The priorities of the government are the economy, health- the coronavirus pandemic, and security, meaning threats from Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and PIJ. On why Secretary of State Pompeo made a trip to Jerusalem. It was not about the peace plan. It was about pulling back from China’s major prospective infrastructure investments in Israel, over the COVID-19 deceptions that infuriated President Trump and Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Diker noted the awarding of Israel’s largest Sorek-2 desalinization project to an Israeli consortium rather than a Chinese water company. The pending awards for Haifa and Ashdod port and light rail contracts are also concerns. The message conveyed in the six-hour meeting with the new emergency government leaders was: “Back off, China.” Dan Diker can be reached at diker@jcpa.org. See his daily Twitter commentary @DanDiker84

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