Amid headlines from the usual suspects about President Trump 'criticizing Israeli settlements' (including the leftist press in Israel) the truth is that Trump's policies and Israel's new law could lead to real peace.
What President Trump actually said was that the creation of new settlements was not helpful when it came to “the process of reaching peace.”
With a meeting coming up between the president and Israeli PM Netanyahu, someone he's been on friendly terms with for years, it's obvious that the Donald is laying the groundwork for a serious attempt at a deal. In an interview with Israel Hayom, President Trump had some revealing things to say.
After praising PM Netanyahu, voicing his expectation of an excellent future relationship with Israel and harshly criticizing the Iran deal, the conversation turned to Jerusalem and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Actually President Trump has said nothing negative about building and expanding existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Nor will he. In fact when he was asked whether he was going to condemn Israeli announcements of building in existing Jewish communities like the previous administration, he responded “No, I don't want to condemn Israel. Israel has had a long history of condemnation and difficulty. And I don't want to be condemning Israel. I understand Israel very well, and I respect Israel a lot, and they have been through a lot. I would like to see peace and beyond that. And I think that peace for Israel would be a good thing for the Israeli people, not just a good thing, a great thing.” …
” They [ new settlements] don't help the process. I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we'll see. ”
That hardly qualifies as 'criticizing settlements.' It's simply a self-evident statement and an attempt at prepping the ground with an appearance of neutrality pending any coming negotiations. And President Trump also had this to say about relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem:
Q: How soon will you decide on the issue of relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?
“Well, I want Israel to be reasonable with respect to peace. I want to see peace happen. It should happen. After all these years. … Maybe there is even a chance for a bigger peace than just Israel and the Palestinians. I would like to see a level of reasonableness of both parties, and I think we have a good chance of doing that.”
Q: And the embassy?
“I am thinking about the embassy, I am studying the embassy [issue], and we will see what happens. The embassy is not an easy decision. It has obviously been out there for many, many years, and nobody has wanted to make that decision. I'm thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens.”
Q: You always speak about making good deals. Don't the Palestinians have to make concessions as well?
“Yeah. They do. Absolutely. It has to be good for everybody. No deal is good if it is not good for everybody, and we are in that process, and we will see what happens. People have been in that process for many decades, and it has been going a long for a long time. So many people think it cannot be made. I have very smart people that … say a deal can't be made. I disagree with them. I think a deal should be made, and it can be made,” he concluded.
What President Trump is doing here is straight out of 'The Art Of The Deal.' He is deliberately positioning himself so that the U.S. can appear as a reasonable arbiter. With the Israelis, whom he knows are the far more reasonable party, he's holding out certain carrots; an embassy in Jerusalem, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capitol as well as recognition of Jewish communities and their right to natural growth in Judea and Samaria. There's also the promise of demanding real life meaningful concessions from the Arabs whom call themselves 'Palestinians' as part of any deal as opposed to just taking Abbas's word for it. He's even holding out the promise of formal relations between Israel and the other Arab states. While those relationships exist in reality, especially with Saudis Arabia and the Gulf States, they're clandestine. And Trump's disdainful mention of the Iran deal maybe points to something big in the future. Nothing unites like a common enemy.
With the 'Palestinians', Trump's using the stick.
Some fake news articles from the usual sources have mentioned that 'officials' are reaching out to the Arabs whom call themselves 'Palestinians' ot reassure them nothing's changed. It's news to their leaders, who are literally going berserk. President Trump not only froze $21 million Obama gifted to 'Palestine' indefinitely, he's also defunding UN bodies who recognize 'Palestine' like UNESCO. And the U.S. just blocked a UN appointment for former 'Palestinian' PM Salem Fayyad. In contrast, Trump selected as U.S. Ambassador to Israel none other than David Friedman, who supports moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as well as the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
What Trump is doing with the 'Palestinians' is the equivalent of training a puppy. He's letting them know there are consequences for their incitement, violence and intransigence and that if they want to receive certain privileges like anything resembling statehood they had better behave appropriately.
This is something they have never have had to deal with before, and it might actually result in peace if they get the message. The Donald is just setting up the climate for a shot at making a deal, and if Abbas wants anything at all he's going to have to be willing to come to the table with real concessions that mean something or wind up with NOTHING.
Don't be surprised if Abbas ends up with demilitarized autonomy in Area A and perhaps some of Area B when and if a deal gets made…exactly what they were supposed to get under Oslo, rather than 'statehood.'
Another piece of the puzzle has to do with so new legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset.
Israel's newly passed Regulation Law, legalizes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that were unknowingly built on land that may have been privately owned by Arabs or where the inhabitants had permission from the Israeli government to do so.
The law provides for a legal settlement to owners of private land who can prove their claims of 125% of the land's assessed value or the equivalent of 20 years rent on the raw land.
Basically, this is eminent domain, similar to laws in many other countries that allow private land to be acquired for public benefit. In many cases, title would have transferred by adverse possession (open use of the land for a statutory period without an objection from the owners) without compensation being required. Again, most countries have this kind of law, so the Israeli government is actually being more lenient in passing this law then they need to be.
This is direct defiance to the UN's bigoted Resolution 2334, which sought to impose a ridiculous settlement with no regards to Israel or to previous agreements whatsoever.
You'd never know it listening to the UN squawk, but in actual fact, the Regulation Law changes very little. All of the Israeli communities and almost all of the Israeli population live in Area C, which was always under Israeli sovereignty according to Oslo and was always supposed to be retained by Israel in any peace settlement, at least until Barack Hussein Obama came along. The governing authority, in some cases the Israeli government and in other cases the IDF is already permitted to acquire privately owned land for public benefit just as governments in most countries do.
What the new Regulation Law does is simply this; in places where Israelis built settlements on privately held Palestinian property without knowing it was privately owned or received the government’s consent for building there, the Israeli government is now required to impose eminent domain and compensate the owners as described above, either 125% of the land's assessed value or the equivalent of 20 years rent on the raw land. As opposed to evicting people whom may have lived on the land for decades.
While Israel's Supreme Court might challenge this law, there's a decent chance it won't. Israel Supreme Court is far more to the Left than the Israeli government or even the majority of most Israelis, because of the bizarre way the justices are chosen…they pick their own successors. There's currently legislation pending to change that, and since a thumbs down on the Regulation Law might be an incentive to the Knesset approving this legislation on how Supreme Court justices are chosen, the Court may choose simply to not address it.
The 'Palestinians' saw Resolution 2334 as a victory, giving them everything they wanted while giving up nothing. Trump's actions and the Israeli Regulation Law are showing them how wrong they were. The 'Palestinians' are now being shown in no uncertain terms that they had better be prepared to make real concession and actually negotiate in good faith for once if they want anything at all. Whether they take that opportunity is anyone's guess, and I personally doubt they will. But if they actually do, than Trump's polices and Israel's new law could actually lead to real peace.