• Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Does “The Deal Of The Century” Stand A Chance In Today’s Middle East?


Illustration: President Trump and Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) [CC0, Public Domain] via Flickr

U.S. President Trump’s peace plan for the Middle East, dubbed “The Deal of the Century,” demonstrates the U.S. will act independently in diplomatic actions rather than subordinating its interests to the whims of the U.N., Europe and the Third World.

The 'deal' proves that the U.S. is not trapped in the fallacy of moral equivalence and distorting neutrality, which misrepresent reality, undermining U.S. interests. The 'deal' may reveal that the U.S. has realized that the Palestinian issue is not a core cause of Middle East turbulence, is not a crown jewel of Arab regimes, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This 'deal' confirms that the U.S. recognizes Israel as a unique ally, a battle-tested laboratory for the U.S. armed forces and defense industries, and a force multiplier in the face of the threats posed by Islamic Sunni terrorism and Iran’s Ayatollahs’ ballistic, nuclear and terrorist capabilities.

All prior U.S. peace plans crashed against the rocks of the Middle East. Is the 'deal' consistent with the ruthlessly uncontrollable and unpredictable Middle East?

Will it Fly in the Middle East reality?

In pursuing the 'deal', one should be aware that Western values — including democracy, negotiation, adherence to agreements and peaceful coexistence — do not apply to the Arab/Muslim Middle East, which is characterized by the following 14-century-old intra-Muslim features: no intra-Muslim peaceful coexistence; unpredictability; instability; religious and ethnic fragmentation; violent intolerance; terrorism and subversion; Islam-driven goals and values (including the unacceptably of an “infidel” entity in the “abode of Islam”).

Middle East regimes are tenuous as are their policies and accords. Accords with the “infidel” are non-binding ceasefires (sulh, hudna) until the opportunity arises to overcome the “infidel.” “Believers” are advised to dissimulate (taqiyya) in order to mislead and overcome “infidels.”

In the Middle East where on words one does not pay custom, realistic policies and accords should be based on the bad/worst case scenario — not on a Western-driven good/best case scenario.

Most of the Middle East is not driven by a desire to improve standards of living, but by religious/ideological visions. Concession, appeasement and gestures to rogue elements have added fuel — not water — to the fire of aggression and terrorism.

Ensuring national security in the tectonic Middle East, requires extra precaution and tangible security, which would withstand future violation of agreements and volcanic eruptions.

A Demilitarized Palestinian State?

The assumption that a Palestinian state could be effectively demilitarized and de-terrorized should be assessed against the track record of the Palestinians. Thus, the 1993 Oslo Accord and the 2005 Gaza Disengagement were supposed to demilitarize and de-terrorize the Palestinians in return for dramatically enhanced political and economic benefits. Instead, both events intensified terrorism in a dramatic manner.

A direct correlation exists between the degree of Palestinian sovereignty and the level of Palestinian terrorism. For example, in 1968-70, Jordan provided the Palestinians with an unprecedented platform of operation. Consequently, they triggered a civil war, attempting to topple the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime. During the 1970's, they initiated a series of civil wars in Lebanon. In August 1990, the Palestinians collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of their host country (Kuwait), which triggered the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars.

The Middle East erratic reality, on the one hand, and the assumption that a Palestinian entity could be demilitarized and de-terrorized, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron. The Palestinians have been agitated by the existence — not the size — of the Jewish State, as documented by the Palestinian education curriculum and the 1959 and 1964 covenants of the Fatah and PLO, which supersede the Palestinian Authority. They call for the “liberation” of the pre-1967 area of Israel.

Arabs shower the Palestinians with generous talk, but no effective walk, due to their terrorist track record in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. In October 1994, Jordan’s military commanders advised their Israeli counterparts: “That which the Palestinians sign in the morning they tend to violate by the evening.” They added that a “...Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime east of the River.”

Egypt echoed Jordan’s concerns. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said: “Jordan’s King Hussein does not want a Palestinian state; Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not concerned about the Palestinians….”, echoing the statement of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981): “Do I want a Palestinian state? Why should I want another Soviet base and another member of the Rejectionist Front?”

What Should Israel’s Policy Be?

Israel must maintain independent national security action. A unilateral application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and additional parts of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, would reinforce Israel’s posture of deterrence. It would, therefore, enhance Israel’s position as a major force-multiplier for the U.S. and the most reliable “life insurance agent” of all pro-U.S. Arab regimes, who face the lethal threats of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Such a step does not have to be part of a package, which includes a Palestinian state, as shown in the following examples:

Historically, in 1948/49, Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, unilaterally applied sovereignty to West Jerusalem and large parts of the Negev and the Galilee, in spite of U.S. and global opposition. Ben Gurion’s defiance established the foundation for the most capable, reliable and systematic strategic ally of the U.S.

In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel’s Prime Minister Eshkol united the city of Jerusalem, notwithstanding rough U.S. and global opposition.

In December 1981, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin asserted the Israeli law in the Golan Heights despite brutal pressure by the U.S., including the suspension of a major strategic pact. Begin’s decisive action bolstered the national security of the pro-U.S. Hashemite regime of Jordan, which was lethally threatened by the pro-USSR Syria.

In June 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, notwithstanding brutal U.S. opposition. Begin’s unilateral action spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in January 1991. ​

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is the director of The Ettinger Report: Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.

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בס"ד

...הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם! (ישעיה  מ:ט)

...Raise your voice with strength, herald of Jerusalem; raise it, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your G-d!"

(Isaiah 40:9)

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