At the end of the meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that no draft or timetable of the U.S. peace plan had been presented to him. “We didn’t talk about the Palestinians for more than a quarter of the meeting,” bragged Netanyahu, as though he were announcing a brilliant diplomatic achievement, rather than an additional link in the chain of his diplomatic failures.
The Israeli public is supposed to accept as self-evident that Netanyahu couldn’t have dreamed of a friendlier president and more generous gestures. What didn’t Trump do for him? He treats Netanyahu and his wife like royalty, and the State of Israel like an empire; he respects his opinion (“President Trump and I see eye-to-eye on the dangers emanating from the region”); Trump sent his ambassador Nikki Haley to fight for Israel in the United Nations; he gives the two-state solution only lip service; and if all that isn’t enough, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, announced the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and even declared that he may attend the opening ceremonies on the State of Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
But the problem of the State of Israel is not one of image, something that can be solved by rebranding the prime minister, Israel or the West Bank.
The problem of the State of Israel is that for 50 years it has been keeping over 2.5 million Palestinians (not including Gaza) under military control, and instead of doing everything in its power to separate from them peacefully, it is only deepening control over them by means of a slow takeover of their land, while building on areas of their would-be future state. The State of Israel’s problem is that in the territories beyond the Green Line that it is holding onto by force, it is on the spectrum between occupation and apartheid.
“If the Palestinians don’t come to the negotiating table, there won’t be a peace agreement, and that could be possible,” said Trump with Netanyahu sitting next to him, chuckling happily. But Israel is just as much in need of a solution as are the Palestinians. And therefore, if Trump were concerned about the good of the State of Israel, he would force it and the Palestinians to negotiate until diplomatic white smoke emerges, and to sign a fair agreement for dividing the land.
If Trump were a true friend, he would spread out a map and help the sides draw a border line between them, including in Jerusalem. If he were a true friend, he would demand that Israel evacuate the settlements and recognize a Palestinian state alongside it. In doing so he would respect the Palestinians’ right to self determination, as well as the formative Zionist idea of establishing a national home for the Jewish people.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now