This article originally appeared in Israel Hayom on January 28, 2020.
Fate has sent Israel a rare set of circumstances that is unlikely to come our way again. The “deal of the century” really is a once-in-a-century opportunity, and Israel must seize it.
In October 1937, David Ben-Gurion wrote to his son Amos: “A partial Jewish state is not an end but a beginning … a powerful lever in our efforts to redeem the land in its entirety.”
US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which could potentially rip the Israeli nation’s ancient homeland in two, is also not the end, but rather the beginning.
Israel is facing a Ben-Gurion-style monumental decision: Some 73 years after the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, providence has sent the State of Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a rare set of circumstances that is unlikely to come our way again. The “deal of the century” really is a once-in-a-century opportunity, and Israel must seize it.
The full details of Trump’s peace plan will be revealed soon enough, but if what we know about it so far is true – 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 greater Israel – than we must say yes to Trump’s plan.
In 1947, too, the partition plan tore the land of Israel in two, leaving the Western and central Galilee, the eastern part of the Negev, including Beersheba, and even Jaffa (as an enclave) within the borders of the proposed Arab state.
In 2020, too, Trump’s plan will tear Judea and Samaria, the heart of our homeland, apart, and leaves about 70% to a future Palestinian entity. But what time and Arab rejectionism did in the past, time and Palestinian rejectionism will do in the future.
Embracing Trump’s plan at this time is just the beginning, even if parts of it are a bitter pill to swallow.
If we look at it through the Ben-Gurion mindset, it is clear that the Palestinians will not give up on “full statehood” and on east Jerusalem; they will not disarm Hamas, and they will continue not to miss every opportunity to miss every opportunity.
The Palestinians will provide Israel with enough cause to “continue our efforts to redeem the land in its entirety,” and to stick by the principles of Zionism that call for maintaining our allegiance to our historic homeland – not only by virtue of the theoretical right but by virtue of the practical building of the country along the 1967 borders, set following the liberation of Judean and Samaria.
Netanyahu’s test will be in the realization of the decision to apply sovereignty to all communities here and now, even before the March 2 elections.
This will also be a test for Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, as he will have to decide which is more important to him: His morbid addiction to the “anything but Bibi” concept, or seizing a historical opportunity.
If, indeed, “Israel comes first” for Lieberman ally the be party, they Yisrael Beytenu’s head will have to support the Trump outline.
Anyone who still hurts for the destruction of the communities in Gush Katif over the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005; and anyone who has nightmares about the possibility that a similar fate might befall dozens of communities and thousands of Israelis across Judea and Samaria – has to support the “deal of the century.”
But after all of that, let’s take a moment to consider one thing: Jerusalem.
Reports about what the plan holds for the Israeli capital have been inconsistent, but if, God forbid, Israel is required to divide the city again or relinquish its status on the Temple Mount, then we will have to devise a way to exclude Jerusalem from the plan. This may even cause Israel to rethink its position about the plan as a whole and address the issue again vis-à-vis Washington.