January 29, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Reject U.S. Peace Plan - Dov Lieber (Wall Street Journal)
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Trump administration's peace plan shortly after it was unveiled on Tuesday, saying, "We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct."
    PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told a cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Monday that the Palestinian leadership isn't grappling with the question of whether to engage with the peace plan, but to what lengths will they go to oppose it.

New Video: Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    What are Israel's defensible borders? The Jordan Valley and the mountains that dominate it create a steep 4,200-foot virtual wall opposite any force attacking from the east.
    Any future peace arrangement must include Israeli control over key parts of the West Bank mountain ridge, demilitarization of the West Bank, and continuing Israeli control of its air space.

Britain Urges Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Give Fair Consideration to U.S. Plan (Reuters)
    British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said Tuesday that the U.S. peace plan "is clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort. Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent."
    "We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations."
    See also Australia Welcomes U.S. Mideast Plan - Paul Osborne (News.com-Australia)
    See also Saudi Arabia Backs U.S.-Israel Efforts to Achieve Mideast Peace (Saudi Press Agency)
    See also Egypt Urges Israel, Palestinians to "Carefully Study" U.S. Peace Proposal (i24News)

Palestinians in West Bank Show Limited Reaction to U.S. Peace Plan - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Palestinian sources in Ramallah said the city's tradesmen have refused to engage in the trade strike that the PA sought to initiate, and the parents of schoolchildren have refused to involve their children in PA demonstrations.
    Hundreds of protesters, mostly PA civil servants, participated in supervised demonstrations.
    Palestinian security officials fear that Islamic Jihad and Hamas will take advantage of any turmoil to fire at IDF soldiers. Therefore, on Monday PA security forces conducted widespread arrests of possible troublemakers.

Never Again? What about Palestinian Anti-Semitism? - Adam Levick (Algemeiner)
    Western journalists fail to report on the endemic anti-Semitism within Palestinian society and the deleterious impact such anti-Jewish racism has on efforts at peace and coexistence.
    Palestinian Media Watch reported recently that Abbas' Fatah movement produced a new video about Jewish history in Europe (publicized on Fatah's Facebook page) claiming that Jews "led the project to enslave humanity" and that Jewish behavior led to European anti-Semitism.
    PA TV broadcast a cleric warning that the Jewish threat to humanity can be stopped only by exterminating all Jews.
    The lofty rhetoric of world leaders evoking the idea of "never again" - the moral imperative to never again allow Jew-hatred to go unchallenged because we now know where this leads - rings hollow if the principle of anti-anti-Semitism is not applied universally.
    The writer is managing editor of UK Media Watch, a CAMERA affiliate.

Microsoft Virtual Health Assistant Developed in Israel - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    The Microsoft Healthcare bot, a virtual medical assistant powered by artificial intelligence launched by Microsoft last year and used by healthcare providers and labs in the U.S., was developed by the Microsoft team in Israel.
    The bot "aims to allow patients to get more information about what they should be doing, what is the next step. I have this symptom, what should I do, how urgent is it?," said Hadas Bitran, who heads the Microsoft Healthcare team in Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Releases U.S. Mideast Peace Plan
    President Donald Trump released the U.S. Mideast peace plan on Tuesday. The White House statement said, "This vision is just the first step and provides the basis for historic progress toward peace....If the Palestinians have concerns with this vision, they should bring them forth in the context of good-faith negotiations with the Israelis and help make progress for the region. Mere opposition to this vision is simply a declaration of support for the hopeless status quo that is the product of decades of stale thinking."
        "The vision aims to achieve mutual recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the future State of Palestine as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, with equal civil rights for all citizens within each state. The vision creates a path for the Palestinian people to realize their legitimate aspirations for independence, self-governance, and national dignity. Under this vision, neither Palestinians nor Israelis will be uprooted from their homes."
        "The vision fully addresses Israel's security requirements, does not ask Israel to take additional security risks, and enables Israel to defend itself by itself against any threats. The vision provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River."  (White House)
        See also Text: Peace to Prosperity - A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People (White House)
        See also Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu on U.S. Peace Plan (White House)
  • U.S. Peace Plan Offers the Palestinians a State and a Capital in Jerusalem - David M. Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner
    The Mideast peace plan offers the Palestinians a state, while establishing a permanent eastern border for Israel along the Jordan River, recognized by the U.S.  Prime Minister Netanyahu said the plan recognizes Israel's need for a buffer along the Jordan River, giving it strategic depth against enemies to the east and the ability to prevent the smuggling of weapons to the Palestinians.
        The Palestinian capital would be in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods cut off by the Israeli security barrier. The plan also contemplates land swaps giving the Palestinians parts of what is now Israel including some areas of Israel that are heavily populated by Arab citizens.
        Israelis say the Palestinian response to previous American peace proposals has either been negative or nonexistent. Dore Gold, a longtime Netanyahu adviser who said he had been consulted by the Trump team, said the plan is "a kind of declaration that the old paradigm had failed and that something new was needed." Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, said Israelis would prefer a bilaterally negotiated agreement, "but when the neighbors are not coming to the table, what's the alternative?"  (New York Times)
  • Kushner: An Amazing Opportunity for the Palestinians
    White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that the U.S. Mideast plan "is the first time that Israel has ever agreed to a Palestinian state and it's the first time Israel has agreed to a map, so this is an amazing opportunity for the Palestinian leadership. If they truly want to create a good opportunity for their people, they'd be wise to pursue it."  (Al Jazeera)
        See also Kushner: U.S. Plan Will Double the Size of the PA - Omri Nahmias
    Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday that the Palestinians "have a perfect track record of missing opportunities. If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking at the international community in the face saying they're the victim, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them. If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent." Kushner stressed that the plan will double the size of the territory the Palestinians have now.
        Kushner told Al-Arabiya that the Palestinians are not going to get a state "by doing a day of rage. All doing a day of rage shows is that they're not ready to have a state. That's not what people with states do." "Whole-hearted rejections will show the world that they are not interested in peace, they have never been interested in peace and, quite frankly, in the Palestinian areas you have a lot of people that are very vested in the status quo."  (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: U.S. Plan Offers a Realistic Path to a Durable Peace
    At the presentation of the U.S. peace plan at the White House on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Trump: "This is a historic day...because on this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel's sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage. And on this day, you too have chartered a brilliant future for Israelis, Palestinians and the region by presenting a realistic path to a durable peace."
        "So many well-intentioned plans...failed because they did not strike the right balance between Israel's vital security and national interests and the Palestinians' aspirations for self-determination....I have agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan....I look forward to working with you to achieve a peace that will protect Israel's security, provide the Palestinians with dignity and their own national life, and improve Israel's relations with the Arab world."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Facing Monumental Decisions - Nadav Shragai
    The "deal of the century" really is a once-in-a-century opportunity, and Israel must seize it. If Jerusalem, even without the Arab neighborhoods beyond the security fence, remains ours; if the Temple Mount is left under Israeli sovereignty; if all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria fall under Israeli rule; and if the settlement enterprise in historical lands, the cradle of the Israeli nation, will have territorial continuity and become part of Israel - than we must say yes to Trump's plan. (Israel Hayom)
  • A Pathway for a Palestinian State - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. peace plan provides a pathway for a Palestinian state. The Palestinians may reject it because it does not give them 100% of what they want, but with Israel accepting the plan, its argument will be, "Don't say Israel is not willing to do anything for the Palestinians or give them anything, because we are willing."
        One senior American official said the plan is important because it lays out conditions for a Palestinian state. Under the plan, the Palestinians, to get a state down the line, must disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad, must stop paying terrorists and inciting terrorism, must end corruption, must respect human rights, and must grant religious freedom and allow a free press.
        That is important because up until now there has been a tendency to give the Palestinians a free pass regarding the type of state that will be created. These milestones for a state will drive every future discussion about a Palestinian state.
        What will be significant is that Israel made an offer for a state, and the Palestinians turned it down. This will highlight for the U.S. public and the international community that Jerusalem wants peace, that it is willing to cede territory to achieve that peace, and that the Palestinians are the ones not willing to accept it. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Peace Plan Is Fair and Just - Eugene Kontorovich
    The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan unveiled Tuesday is an important and well-crafted effort that would benefit both sides. Critics are already indicting the plan for not meeting all Palestinian demands. But the plan also does not meet all Israeli demands. It is a compromise, requiring concessions from both sides.
        The Palestinians are perhaps the only national independence movement in the modern era that has ever rejected a genuine offer of internationally recognized statehood, even if it falls short of all the territory they had sought. Hundreds of groups seek statehood, and some - like the Kurds - seem to deserve it. But almost none get it.
        For Palestinian leaders to reject such an offer of statehood from a U.S. administration best poised to deliver it - along with $50 billion in promised international investment in a new Palestinian state - shows that the Palestinians and their allies still see undermining Israel as their primary goal.
        In 1947, as Britain was preparing to end its colonial rule, Jewish leaders were willing to accept a discontinuous, vulnerable state with no part of Jerusalem. This is evidence that those who truly need a state jump on even the most imperfect opportunities.
        The U.S. plan also crucially inverts the paradigm in which the Palestinians keep getting offered more for saying "no." In the new plan, if the Palestinians do not agree to the peace deal - and do not meet minimal conditions - Israel can proceed to secure its interests without them.
        The writer, a professor and director of the Center for International Law in the Middle East at George Mason University Law School, is also a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. (Fox News)
  • Where Once There Was Fury, Palestinian Issue Now Stirs Up Apathy - Martin Chulov
    For much of the last 70 years the cause of Palestine stirred the Arab street. Wars were fought and lost in their name. By the time Iran became the preoccupation of the U.S. and its allies in the region, the Palestinians were cast into the unfamiliar role of playing second fiddle. The unveiling of the U.S. Middle East peace plan has generated neither enthusiasm nor anger - only apathy.
        Ambassadors from Oman, Bahrain and the UAE were present when Trump unveiled the plan in the White House, marking a very public endorsement. Riyadh, which once drew much of its regional clout from defending the Palestinians, was mute. The Palestinians had become a burden, financially and politically, and were no longer worth the investment, the Saudi crown prince had concluded. There were bigger fish to fry in Iran, after all, and Israel could help them do that. (Guardian-UK)
  • Palestinians Must Wake Up to New Reality in Mideast - John Podhoretz
    Twice in 2000 and once in 2008, Israel offered Palestinians a state in exchange for a declaration of peace. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory of Gaza and left it to the Gazans to rule themselves. The Palestinians met both the offers and the withdrawal with multiple wars, thus giving the lie to the fantasy that all you need to achieve peace is an outstretched hand.
        Now the U.S. proposes a plan that takes account of Israel's security needs and Palestinian aspirations for sovereignty and statehood. What's different here is that the U.S. is no longer demanding that Israel place itself in existential jeopardy by giving up vital security territory alongside the Jordan River - or that it unilaterally surrender part of Jerusalem, just to be nice.
        Nor does it make the preposterous demand that the Jewish state cede the towns and neighborhoods they have built over the past 53 years to help the Palestinians make the West Bank effectively Jew-free. It says that no Palestinians and no Israelis will be uprooted from their homes. (New York Post)

Why the Palestinians Will Reject the U.S. Peace Deal - Lt.-Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch (JNS)
  • The Palestinian rejection of the U.S. peace deal will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with their consistently expressed demands regarding any future peace deal. Cumulatively, these demands require the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Any suggested peace deal that does not meet these demands will be rejected by the Palestinians.
  • The Palestinian Authority was created as a function of the 1993 Oslo agreement. While the Palestinians were happy to assume the control and jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza afforded to them by the accords, they had no intention whatsoever to negotiate any settlement regarding the other issues.
  • The PLO/PA stance on Jerusalem is that the city is holy Islamic territory that no earthly body has the right to forfeit to non-Islamic rule. Any peace deal that suggests leaving any part of Jerusalem under non-PA/Islamic jurisdiction will be rejected.
  • Moreover, any peace accord that does not ensure the dismantling of every "settlement," including multiple neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and the expulsion of every Israeli from those areas, will be rejected.
  • Any peace plan must ensure the right of every Palestinian refugee to return to the area in which he, or most likely his father/grandfather, lived in 1948. There are 5,545,540 Palestinian "refugees" registered with UNRWA. The PLO/PA understand that the influx of these refugees would signal the end of the democratic Jewish state.
  • For years the Palestinians have consistently expressed their demands regarding any potential peace plan. Any peace plan, offered by any person, at any time, that does not capitulate, in full, to the PLO/PA's demands, will be rejected. The PLO/PA are still living in 1947 and still reject the very existence of Israel. No appeasing of them, short of offering the destruction of Israel, will ever suffice.

    The writer, Head of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.