Gantz's Party Must Reject Trump's 'Deal of the Century'

Yael Patir
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Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz.
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Yael Patir

For U.S. President Donald Trump, everything is a deal – there are no more proposals, agreements or processes, only deals. That’s also how we got “the deal of the century,” the promised deal whose name apparently derives from the long period of time it took to come into the world.

But after years of anticipation, the members of the U.S. administration are promising us that very soon it will arrive, even if the business logic behind it is deficient, since it will serve the interests of the Israeli right far more than those of the Palestinians.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 58Credit: Haaretz

Of course a good deal cannot omit the hottest concept of recent months, namely the annexation, and they are promising us that it will also be part of the tidings brought with the deal. A somewhat problematic part, it should be noted, in light of its dangerous consequences for the stability of the entire region.

The identity of the seller is a central part of any deal, and just as you wouldn’t want to buy a used car from someone who doesn’t really own it, we should treat deals proposed by the Trump administration in the same way. When talks about “the deal of the century” began, it was the early days of the Trump presidency, but time has passed – we have arrived at the last year of his term, with a president who, as of now, and with all the necessary reservations, is losing in most of the public opinion polls to most of the Democratic candidates.

That’s why “the deal of the century” won’t even be the deal of the year, since this may be Trump’s last one in the White House. A Democratic administration – and for that purpose, the identity of the president who will head it will make no difference – will oppose any unilateral annexation process. That is the opinion being heard today from all those running in the primaries and that is the opinion of all the branches of the Democratic Party.

Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz would do well if – instead of getting excited about deals that are no more than declarations whose only objective is mutual assistance between two corrupt leaders – he were to propose an alternative of rapprochement and a return to the negotiating table, in place of the right’s dangerous delusions of annexations. That is the proper alternative for the State of Israel, and that is the alternative that will also help Israel win over the Democratic Party and its leadership, which have a good chance of returning to the White House in less than a year from now.

The symbiosis between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be very pleasant for the Israeli right, but it is dangerous for the State of Israel. The fact that the Trump administration has in effect removed all the checks and restrictions when it comes to Israel enables Netanyahu to feel that he can abandon all diplomatic restraint – that he can annex, build and demolish too. But the day is not far off when Trump won’t be around and instead of him there will be another administration – for which pro-Israel means wanting to find a solution to the conflict rather than helping to kindle it.

Netanyahu has managed to burn almost all the bridges to the Democratic Party and its leaders. Therefore, the leaders of Kahol Lavan would do well to take upon themselves the role of the responsible adult. Instead of being dragged behind Netanyahu’s declarations of annexation (even if Trump supports them), they should present an ethical alternative that would be proper both for Israel’s future and the future of the friendship with the United States and its various administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

Yael Patir is the Israel director of J Street.