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Is the Trump Plan good or Bad for Israel?

By Sondra Baras
June 9, 2020

There is an enormous buzz in Israel now surrounding annexation, or as it is often referred to, extending Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.  The dream that we carried with us for so long, the goal of so much of our activities in Judea and Samaria since 1967, is finally reaching a level of fruition that most of us never dreamed would ever happen in our lifetime.  And yet, just as we are facing this critical junction, there are voices of argument and dissension within the settlement movement itself.

I have often tried to put myself in the shoes of David Ben-Gurion, charged with making critical decisions in 1947 and again in 1948 that would affect the future of Israel for generations to come.  In 1947, the Jewish community of Israel was faced with the Partition Plan of the United Nations, which divided the Land of Israel into two states, an Arab and a Jewish one, leaving very small and isolated strips of land in the hands of the Jews, while handing vast stretches of land, including the strategic high-ground, to the Arabs.  The plan excluded all of Judea and Samaria from the Jewish state and designated Jerusalem as an international area governed by the United Nations.

Accepting this plan could have been interpreted as Jewish agreement to the exclusion of Jerusalem and the Biblical Heartland from the areas of land that we claimed as our historical birthright.   But David Ben-Gurion made a historic decision and accepted the plan on behalf of the Jewish people, while stating unequivocally that all of the Land of Israel rightfully belonged to the Jews, despite our inability to actualize that right at that time.

A few months later, Ben Gurion made another fateful decision.  The British were leaving Palestine on May 15th and Israel had to decide whether to establish the State of Israel in the area they were abandoning.  The Arabs had already begun their attack on Jews throughout the land, Jerusalem and Gush Etzion were under siege, and it was clear that the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, and Lebanese would invade the minute the British left.  There was enormous pressure on Ben Gurion to refrain from declaring a state, leaving room for a negotiated settlement that would enable Jews to continue living in Israel but without statehood.  The claim was that if they refrained from declaring a state, war could be averted.  The fear was that a vastly outnumbered and untrained non-army and air-force that was Israel at the time would be decimated in any military engagement.

But Ben Gurion made the critical decision and the State of Israel was established on May 14th, just hours before the British departed forever.  War broke out immediately, casualties were terrible and it was not at all clear that Israel would remain past the first days of its existence.  But a miracle happened and Israel survived.

It took time, but Israel grew steadily, stabilized its economy, and became a successful country.  And in 1967, as a result of the Six Day War, when Israel was attacked by Syria, Egypt and Jordan, Israel liberated the Biblical Heartland, Judea and Samaria.  Indeed, as Ben Gurion stated, we never gave up our claim to this land but we were never going to initiate a war to conquer it.

The Trump Plan as announced in January of this year, is not a perfect plan.  It does provide for Israeli annexation of the areas where there are Jewish communities.  It also provides a framework for territorial contiguity between most of these areas and pre-67 Israel.  However, it does recognize the idea of a Palestinian State, leaves 70% of the area as potential for a Palestinian State and some 15 Jewish communities which will be annexed to Israel have been isolated in conclaves in the heart of Palestinian territory.  The plan also redefines Palestinian statehood, however, so that it ensures continued Israeli security control over the entire Land of Israel west of the Jordan River, and conditions the establishment of such a state, with very limited powers, on the Palestinians meeting criteria that they are unlikely ever to meet.

Most of Israel welcomed this plan enthusiastically despite its obvious drawbacks.  Today, the leadership of Judea and Samaria is divided:  should we apply sovereignty over 30% of the area and achieve US recognition?  Will this application of sovereignty necessarily indicate that we agree with all aspects of the plan, including the freezing of construction in the 70% of the area reserved for the Palestinians?  But even more significantly, will extending sovereignty mean that we agree to the current conceptual map which cuts off vital community areas such as Shiloh and Hebron from Jerusalem, by transferring sections of Route 60 to the Palestinian Authority?  Should we apply sovereignty on the 1st of July, as Netanyahu promised?

My response to this is a resounding yes.  Provided that Netanyahu does not accept the conceptual map as reflecting the final status, but leaves it open to negotiation.

We don’t know if Trump will continue in office after the November elections.  It is clear that a Democratic US president will try to recognize a Palestinian State.  But prior recognition of Israeli annexation is binding on any future American administration.  And it will set a vital precedent for European and other national policies.

In any case, this is far from the end of the story.  The Trump plan gives the Palestinians 4 years to come to the table.  They have already squandered half a year of that timetable.  They have cut off all conversation with the US and have threatened violence should Israel annex any part of Judea and Samaria.  It is likely that those 4 years will pass and the Palestinians will remain intransigent.  And that will pave the way for Israel to continue further unilateral actions to tighten our hold on the area.

For the first time since 1967, a major world power has recognized Israel’s right to Judea and Samaria.  We dare not miss this opportunity to assert our rights, rights that should have been asserted more than 50 years ago.  Israel squandered a valuable opportunity to annex the area in 1967 when the world was still stunned by its surprise victory.  We waited 53 years for another opportunity. If we squander this one, we may never have another one.  At least not in our lifetime.  Every choice has its risks but we dare not miss this opportunity to declare for all the world to hear, in a legal way — this Land is ours

18 thoughts on “Is the Trump Plan good or Bad for Israel?”

  1. I am a Christian who loves Eretz Yisrael and her people. I believe the children of Yisrael have a divine G-d-given right to ALL the land including all of the west bank, Gaza and ALL of Jerusalem at a MINIMUM! I believe G-d will bring it to pass.

  2. As Abba Eban often said: “The Palestinians never miss a chance to miss an opportunity” or perhaps it’s vice-versa. I agree totally with you Sondra. The PA wants a state without the Jewish people. Mankind is so naive in believing it’s possible to negotiate a peaceful deal. Let’s pray that Messiah comes soon, and meanwhile take hold of what is legally yours. San Remo Conference 1920,

  3. Sondra, I’m so much thankful for your helpful comment for this critical decision. It’s so clear and said in so short time, bringing the situation on the point. It helps me to bring a clear statement to people here in Switzerland who don’t see the fact, that Judea and Samaria is Jewish land. Thanks a lot. Lisa

  4. Excellent summary and clear statement of position by a very smart and knowledgeable direct participant.
    My comments:
    Since it is likely that 4 years will pass without meaningful or any serious effort by the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith with Israel for their own state and because it is far more likely that they will never accept the mandatorily required security measures Israel needs and that the Trump Plan specifies, WHY THEN NOT TRUMPET YOUR DESIRE FOR THE BIRTH OF A PALESTINIAN STATE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THOSE CONDITIONS?
    2. Would not doing so advantage Israel in the eyes of the world and deflate any perceived legitimacy of organizations such as BDS?
    3 Would doing do improve Israel’s standing on America’s campuses and with those who support US organizations such as JStreet and APN?
    4. What supports Sondra’s assertion that President Biden { which seems HIGHLY likely} will not be able to reverse Trump’s stance on Annexation? — without meaning that he will or should.
    4. Doesn’t Annexation now significantly reduce the chances for fruitful negotiations by a Biden administration to achieve a better outcome for Judea and Samaria and also the Palestinians ? Of course there is good reason to believe the Palestinians will never transition to being reasonable or pragmatic, but many smart people{probably Dennis Ross and David Makovsky} want to give that a chance to happen—-and also thereby avoid more conflict and instability in the whole area.

    NOTE: please email me a copy of my comments. Thank you. Joseph Shalant

  5. Hi Sondra. Thanks so much for this, a really clear and concise explanation.
    I have written to our Foreign Office to express my dismay at the stance taken by the UK Government. Awaiting a reply!! Take care. Sue

  6. Ahmein – unequivocally! Thank you for stating this so well. I intend to use your article when others are on one foot and then the other about whether this it was a good plan or not. Or whether it is good for Israel or not… I agree that we must not hesitate and forfeit the best opportunity we’ve had to move forward since we missed our sense of direction for our future in ’67…

  7. Sondra,
    Thank you so much for this update.
    Charles and I are praying and looking forward, upward and onward! Shalom

  8. All of the land west of the Jordan plus the Golan Heights belong to Israel. No other state allowed. If the arabs don’t like that they can move to Jordan or any other Muslim country that will take them.

  9. In lock down I have managed to read many books on the history of Israel. The one at the moment is Israel A history. by Martin Gilbert. I have also read The Source by James A Michener. If you have the time please read them These totally explains Israel, The Jews and unfortunately the treatment by the so called West, particularly Europe which it is still doing. Bless Israel in this time of implementing Trump’s peace plan. Judea and Samaria needs to be retained for the Jews.

  10. Israel is mistaken to talk of “annexation”. Israel cannot “annex” what is already by San Remo legally her’s. The term is “extend Israeli domestic law” – Judean & Samarian Jewish villages or towns.
    Boker tov,
    Gary Clover

  11. Sondra,Thank you for your clear,and brave explanation on this issue.My prayers to God Almighty to make His plans come to pass within our lifetime.

  12. Yes, how can Israel “annex” what is already hers, signed and sealed in the “aged ink” of San Remo? Thank you Sondra for your profound insight and reasoning re.Israel’s potential annexation of Judea and Samaria.The eyes of Almighty God our Father are watching over the “Apple of His Eye “: Miracles In Israel: Hand of God Diverts Incoming Missile…….” as per internet.Now let us ponder: Zechariah Chapter 2:1-13. Indeed,13 “….our Lord has roused himself from his holy dwelling”.

  13. Let us also ponder: Zechariah 8:1-23,taking care to note verse 2, “…I (Almighty God) am jealous for her(Zion) with great wrath.” Therefore, would it not be prudent to consider verse 23, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’ ”

    Isaiah 6:1-3″In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.Above him stood the seraphim;each had six wings:with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his his feet, and with two he flew.And one called to another and said:”Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

    Revelation 4:8 As the four living creatures never cease to sing: “….Holy,holy,holy,is the Lord God Almighty,who was and is and is to come”!” Amen.

  14. Dear Sondra
    I totally agree with you to move forward while the window has been given to reclaim 30% more of Judea & Samaria
    Our prayers are with you and all who have sacrificed so
    much to realize your dream. It may be your dream, but it’s
    G-d’s desire for you as he along with the patriarchs and
    matriarchs Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, Sarah, Rebeca, Leah
    & Rachel are longing for the day that the complete dream
    of Eretz Israel will become a jubilant reality.

    Rev. Rudy Fidel

  15. Malachi 1:1-5 “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord.
    Yet I loved Jacob” verse 2. “And your eyes shall see, and you
    shall say, The Lord will be magnified from the border of Israel.” verse 5.

  16. Sondra, may I please ask why there are quite a few rabbis opposing Israel applying sovereignty? Why do they insist that Trump’s plan will divide up Israel’s land?

  17. Yes, there has been serious debate within the settler community as to whether to embrace the Trump plan or to reject it. While we are all united on the need to apply Israel sovereignty to 30% of Judea and Samaria, encompassing all Jewish communities in the area, there is debate as to whether moving forward on this implies or even clearly states that we also accept a Palestinian State. I believe that the terms of a Palestinian State as set forth in the Trump plan do not really amount to a state but more to an autonomy and furthermore, the criteria that the Palestinians need to comply with mean that even that minimal sort of state will never happen. But others believe that if you welcome the Trump plan, you are by definition applauding a Palestinian State. The problem is more complicated because no one knows what is actually being said by the Americans right now. The information we get is based on rumors and contradictory. So we don’t know if the Americans are demanding concessions in exchange for recognizing sovereignty. None of us are in favor of concessions. The whole Trump plan was so unique because it did not demand any Israeli concessions. If that is changing then, in my opinion, Israel has to call the US on this and point out that they are reneging on their own plan.

    I hope this helps to clarify the issue. Thank you for caring.

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