Knifing Netanyahu could sink release of Trump peace plan

November 27, 2019 by David Singer
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From most reports – Israel’s Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu – will soon be finished politically – forced to resign as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister to defend three indictments levelled against him by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.

The first indictment involves bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000 – the BezeqWalla Affair; the second – fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 – the Illegal Gifts Affair; and the third for fraud and breach of trust in Case 2000 – the Yediot Ahronot-Israel Hayom Affair.

One consequence of Netanyahu’s exit from politics – if it does happen – could see President Trump having second thoughts about releasing his long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated deal of the century to end the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict (deal) – which Trump had already promised to release after Israel’s next Government is formed.

A government without Netanyahu at the helm would pose a serious problem for Trump – who has forged a unique relationship of respect and mutual trust with Netanyahu that no other Israeli politician enjoys.

Trump is not in the business of seeing anything he proposes fail – especially this deal.

Trump does not want to join former Presidents Reagan, Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama – whose well-intentioned proposals to resolve the long-running Arab-Jewish conflict have ended up in the garbage bin of history.

Trump has carefully crafted the drip release of his deal over the last two years – possibly in close consultation with Netanyahu – to give Israel the best hope it has ever had of finally reaching agreement with purposeful Arab negotiators.  Trump’s failure so far to find such Arab negotiators has been a major factor in delaying the deal’s release.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has made it abundantly clear that it will not negotiate with Israel on Trump’s deal under any circumstances.

Egypt and Jordan – the only two Arab states to have signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994 – and the last two Arab States to have occupied Gaza and Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967 – still seem to be bucking at announcing their readiness to negotiate with Israel on Trump’s deal.

Trump will seemingly not release the final details of his deal unless he first receives Arab assurances to bona fide negotiate with Israel in translating those details into binding commitments to end the long-running conflict.

Trump will not release his deal only to find it is dead in the water because no Arab negotiators will sit down with Israel.

Trump is interested in winning – not losing before he even jumps out of the starting gate.

Trump will need to now be satisfied that any new Israeli Prime Minister possesses the same views as Netanyahu on the issues Trump has already identified as integral elements of his deal:

  • extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria,
  • declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s eternal capital
  • recognising Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights

Trump will now also need to be assured that any new Israeli Prime Minister will not call on Trump to renew America’s payments to UNRWA and UNESCO, to reopen the PLO Embassy in Washington or resume funding to the PLO.

Netanyahu’s uncertain political future – and the absence of Arab negotiators ready to stand up and be counted – could see Trump’s deal being put on the political backburner until Trump’s bid for re-election for another four years is known on 3 November 2020.

Knifing Netanyahu introduces yet another wild card that could sink the release of Trump’s deal – leaving the failed leadership of the PLO cheering and heaving huge sighs of relief.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and foundation member of the International Analysts Network

 Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog

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