Applying Israeli Sovereignty to Parts of Judea and Samaria according to the U.S. Peace Plan - Implications

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser - Until Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Jerusalem on May 13, the Americans said that the decision to apply Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, including the timing and details, was in Israel's hands. However, in the wake of the visit, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told Israeli journalists, "We really think this should be part of a peace process where Palestinians should have a say." For Israel this would mean a very significant change, since an important component of the U.S. peace plan was the removal of the Palestinians' veto over altering the reality on the ground. It seems there are differing approaches on the issue within the U.S. government. While the Israeli sovereignty move will incense the Palestinians, it is likely that the Palestinian Authority, which the Palestinians consider the most important achievement of their national movement, will continue to exist and will maintain a certain level of security cooperation with Israel in order to prevent the strengthening of its political enemies, particularly Hamas. In any case, Israel does not intend to rule the Palestinians or apply its sovereignty to the Palestinian-populated parts of Judea and Samaria, nor, of course, to Gaza. So any alleged threat to Israel's Jewish and democratic identity is completely baseless. The U.S. peace plan offers a realistic approach and understands that the false Palestinian narrative is the main obstacle to peace. This narrative asserts that there is no Jewish people, the Jews had no history of sovereignty in the Land of Israel, the Zionists are intolerable creatures, Zionism is the handiwork of colonialism, and until the injustice of the Jewish state's existence is fully rectified, the Palestinians must fight Zionism and refuse to come to terms with the Jewish nation-state's existence. The application of Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria is not an obstacle to a two-state solution but an opportunity. Making that move requires the Israeli prime minister to accept the U.S. peace plan - which includes a future Palestinian state - as a basis for negotiations. Precisely because the plan is comfortable for Israel, and because of Israel's trust in the Trump administration, Israel will be prepared to accept the principle of a Palestinian state, under certain conditions, as an aspect of a settlement. Extending Israel's sovereignty to the Jordan Valley will not have immediate security benefit compared with the prevailing status quo. It may even have some negative impact, but in the long run it will send a clear message that Israel is determined to have this area, which is critical for its security, as its eastern border. If the U.S. supports Israel's unilateral implementation of sovereignty under the peace plan, according to the conditions it laid down for Israel, and if Israel does not exploit the current set of circumstances to apply its law/sovereignty in keeping with the plan, it could be regretted for generations. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.

2020-05-21 00:00:00

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