Sitting in the White House’s East Room and hearing the “Vision of Peace” presented by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I reviewed in my mind Israel’s long path to get to this point.
Every research center has a political identity formed by the circumstances that its country faced as it undertook its most significant research projects.
Not long after the collapse of the Camp David and Taba talks between Israel and the Palestinians, we witnessed an intense effort to safeguard the negotiating record of those failed experiments through the use of think tanks.
At that time the Jerusalem Center brought together leading figures from the Israel Defense Forces and the diplomatic world to draft an alternative, which we presented to the Knesset and to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress. We also felt we needed a mantra to encapsulate our work. We therefore called our project “Defensible Borders for Israel,” which we contrasted with the legacy of the failed talks of the past. We borrowed the name from the founding fathers of Israel’s national security doctrine, namely, Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Rabin, and Moshe Dayan.
President Trump’s peace team consulted with many outside experts, but we felt we had a special role, which came to be expressed in some features of the Vision of Peace. Our work continued to be inspired by the idea that Israel had both a right and a need for defensible borders in the future. We could not accept the notion that Israel must inevitably withdraw to the 1967 line with perhaps some security enhancements that could be derived from international peacekeepers combined with high technology.
Our work affirmed that in any peace settlement, Israel must be able to defend itself by itself. Our work reached the highest levels of the administration of George W. Bush and now the administration of Donald J. Trump. Our multimedia presentation on Jerusalem was shown in the US Senate and in the office of Jason Greenblatt. The Trump Plan was conceived by a group of some of the smartest officials that have ever worked on this subject, but we feel we made some important contributions to many of the specifics that it contained.