Union for Reform Judaism president Rabbi Rick Jacobs said that his organization cannot support President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process.” (“Reform Jews at Biennial take on issues of equality at home, in Israel,” Dec. 15).
What is a comprehensive peace plan? The sad history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that more than once, well-wishing leaders have proposed rather “comprehensive peace plans.”
President Bill Clinton devised the Oslo Accord; Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared, facing an intifada, that “we must fight terrorism as if there’s no peace process and work to achieve peace as if there’s no terror,” and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert prepared comprehensive maps delineating Jerusalem into two capitals of two states.
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepared a peace plan that addressed most, if not all, of the “red lines” of Israel and of the Palestinians. None of those experienced statesmen succeeded, and the neophyte Jared Kushner has a plan?
What went wrong? A comprehensive answer will require a book, or a long pamphlet. In this limited space I will examine one aspect, the role of the leaders on both sides, Chairman Yasser Arafat, President Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. None were “negotiating” in good faith.
Yasser Arafat was basking in the glory of world-class “freedom fighter.” Only he could address the U.N. General Assembly wearing military fatigues and a gun holster! Aid money was pouring in, a significant portion of which ended in his personal Swiss bank accounts. Why would he give up such an intoxicating status to become the prime minister of a failing state?
Mahmud Abbas is not that glamorous but was elected to a four-year term as president in 2005. Netanyahu publicly supported a two-state solution in June 2009 in his famous Bar Ilan speech, but he made no real effort to advance the concept.
Ever since, Netanyahu has fearlessly guarded his prime minister position. He has been held hostage by the religious right and by the Settlers Party, which consider the two-state solution an affront to God’s promise to His Chosen People.
A comprehensive plan will not bring peace. Peace will be realized when the real powers on both sides are ready to negotiate a true, lasting settlement.