Sovereignty or peace? Upon closer examination, it is not a matter of choosing one or the other. On the surface, it looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traded his commitment to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, as he promised during his election campaign a few months ago, for peace with the United Arab Emirates and, shortly, other Gulf nations.
Our core areas are largely composed of supporters of the communities in the territories. We all either have family or know people who reside in places like Efrat, Maale Adumim, and Ariel who have been there for decades. They are our parents, children, uncles, or aunts, and the last thing we want is to deny them the right to be legally incorporated and recognized as a sovereign part of Israel.
Today, the unsophisticated and unknowing news media reports in the simplest terms possible. The report was that Israel was about to finally annex those and other areas but was stopped in her tracks by people in the Trump administration like Jared Kushner, Avi Berkowitz, and Ambassador David Friedman.
Like so much else that is so reported by the fake-news media, the exact opposite is the actual truth. Securing normalized relations with a collection of Gulf States is obviously an opportunity that Israel cannot pass up. It seems that this might be particularly true when the price is suspending the move in the direction of sovereignty, which, for all practical purposes, already exists on the ground.
Sovereignty over the biblical land of Israel, or even parts won in a defensive war dating back to 1967, should not require the consent of the United States, or the UN, for that matter. However, if after all these years, Israel can have both sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and diplomatic relations with the Muslim countries in the Gulf, then clearly it is a win-win situation for all of us, but especially the state of Israel.
For decades, the Middle East has been a complicated chess match, and this latest news is no different. The thought process has been repeatedly explained by Mr. Netanyahu for many years. It became obvious, after trying for decades, that the path to Middle East peace was not to first settle the Israel–Palestinian issues and then expand so as to build relationships with other Arab countries in the region.
Netanyahu has referred to this approach to peace as proceeding outside-in as opposed to inside-out. The “inside” refers to the decades of on-and-off-again negotiations with Palestinian representatives. When Bibi saw that this approach was unworkable, his expressed hope was to turn the equation around and work on establishing economic and now diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates first, and hopefully others in the region very soon.
The “outside” aspect is that if countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman joined the UAE in striking up a connection and exchanging ambassadors, these outside countries would drag along the proverbial insiders — the Palestinians — who would have no choice but to enter into some kind of peaceful (and hopefully nonviolent) agreement with Israel.
It seems that this approach is the underlying foundation to the Trump Deal of the Century. By design, the anticipation has been that the Palestinians will reject the Trump deal and will also denigrate the UAE for their agreement. It is a little too early, as there is much more to accomplish, but the only way to succeed at this is if the Palestinians are brought through the process kicking and screaming.
Then there is the matter of suspending the sovereignty process. One of the fears associated with the suspension is that if the Democrats win the White House in November, sovereignty will most likely be off the table for years.
So the gamble here is a double-edged one. If Democrats get into office next year, it will be back to the tired old two-state-solution-and-independence-for-the-Palestinians track. All this progress we see currently unfolding will be reversed or, even worse, erased.
On the other end of the equation, and because the Gulf States are awash in cash, it will be impossible to undo the progress currently being made.
If the Palestinian objective was peace with Israel at any time over the last 40 years, peace would have been achieved a long time ago. Unfortunately, the Palestinian goal all along was to negotiate the disappearance of the Jewish state with assistance from Democrats in Congress and the Europeans. For the longest time, and actually until this very day, their impractical and impossible goal was Israel’s complete withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and the division of Jerusalem. As unrealistic as it sounds, that will be the Biden plan for the Middle East if he is successful in November.
Understandably, settler movements are feeling betrayed by the sudden announcement of the plan to suspend seeking sovereignty at the present time. After all, Bibi did make a promise — but then again, that is politics. If settler leaders were not heading up those movements, they also would agree that a peace agreement with the UAE and other Gulf States is a priority.
More than anything else at this time, Israel needs to be smart. Peace with the UAE as well as with the Sudan, Oman, and then with Bahrain, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia checkmates the Iranians, which is a priority of the Gulf States. It also leaves Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in a desperate limbo with no place to turn but reluctantly in the direction of peace as outlined by the Trump plan.
I know that we are on the threshold of Rosh Hashanah, but all these machinations are more of a reminder of Shabbos HaGadol just prior to Pesach. What gave that Shabbos its name was the fact that the Egyptian firstborns who were facing extinction rose up and revolted against Pharaoh and his government.
That is precisely what we might be watching unfold today: Israel’s enemies and perhaps past enemies rising up and fighting one another. After all, that is what the Torah instructs us to do: Remain silent and watch Divine forces take care of the rest.
The ultimate objective here is sovereignty in Judea and Samaria with the blessing of Israel’s new friends. Let’s watch it happen soon.
Contact Larry Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow 5TJT.com on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.