There is much debate about whether Israel should carry out its plan to extend its sovereignty over the communities of Judea and Samaria, in the portion of the West Bank under its full control — or whether to wait for Palestinians to agree.
In truth, there is no other option. After three decades of trying to negotiate, it is clear that the Palestinian leadership has no interest in an agreement. Israel has to draw its own borders according to its security needs and let the Palestinians be.
When the Oslo Peace Accords were signed on the White House lawn in 1993, many were hopeful that negotiations could lead to a compromise. But Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remained committed to terrorism. He never accepted Israel’s right to exist and used the agreement to continue his war — and to enrich himself at the expense of his people. It is true that there were Israeli extremists, too: one assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin after a peace rally in late 1995.
But the Israeli people demonstrated, time and again, that they were prepared to make sacrifices for peace. They tried to negotiate throughout the 1990s, and withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005, leaving it for the Palestinians to govern.
In return, Palestinian terror groups escalated the conflict. They sent suicide bombers into Israeli cities and launched rockets at Israeli civilians. They dug tunnels, with child labor, to infiltrate Israel and to carry out kidnapping missions.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden — who was a key player in the previous administration’s Middle East policy — tried to pressure Israel to make concessions. The Palestinians still refused to negotiate for eight years.
Only two things have helped to decrease conflict. One is Israel’s security barrier, which Palestinians call the “wall.” It keeps out suicide bombers. The other is Israel’s missile defense system, Iron Dome. It intercepts Palestinian rockets.
There is no one with whom to negotiate on the Palestinian side. President Mahmoud Abbas is a corrupt tyrant who has lost popular support. He continues to give money to jailed terrorists and the families of dead terrorists. He has no vision.
In Gaza, the Hamas terror organization rules with an iron fist. But it is quiet lately, partly because its Iranian patrons are running out of money, thanks to U.S. sanctions. Most ordinary Palestinians simply want to live quietly, and to work.
In the past, the idea of a second unilateral withdrawal — this time, from parts of the West Bank — was a non-starter for Israelis. It would have meant uprooting Jewish communities, and because the Gaza “disengagement” brought terror.
But thanks to President Donald Trump, who has convinced many Sunni Arab states to support his plan, Israel does not have to uproot its population or give up the Jordan River Valley region near the border. It can keep terror out of the area.
There is no other approach that can work. The Palestinian leadership does not want to negotiate anything that does not involve ending Israel’s existence, either through weakening its borders or through flooding the country with “refugees.”
Trump’s plan gives the Palestinians a more constructive option. They can achieve statehood, and $50 billion in aid, if they simply recognize Israel and renounce terror. If they decline, Israel can draw whatever boundaries it wants, or none.
Time is running out. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to leave office late next year. President Trump may lose re-election, and be replaced by an Obama-Biden team determined to get tough on Israel and appease Iran.
The sovereignty plan is not just the best deal that Israel will ever get from an American administration. It is also the only deal that can work. Failing to move forward now could doom Israelis and Palestinians to generations of further conflict.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.