Originally published January 30, 2020
After the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan in the Middle East, numerous Senate Democrats took time out of their busy schedule to lecture him about Middle East politics. The letter they wrote is historically ignorant and dangerous, which is compounded by the fact that it was signed by three leading current presidential candidates; Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
“Dear President Trump,” the letter begins, “We write to express our profound concern regarding your decision to release a one-sided Israeli-Palestinian plan forged without any Palestinian involvement or support.”
Right off the bat, Senate Democrats ignore the fact that the Palestinians have been invited to the negotiations on numerous occasions. The most prominent one was June 2019, when there was a U.S.-led peace conference in Bahrain that was boycotted by the Palestinians. They thought that a boycott would stop the conference, but Jared Kushner, the point-man for the Trump administration in this process, pushed forward.
Trump’s peace plan would ultimately give the Palestinians a state, as well as funds to help get that state up and running. The 1947 U.N. partition plan, which the Arab world outright rejected in choosing instead to declare all-out war on the nascent Jewish state, did not include $50 billion. In fact, the world mostly stood by and watched while the Jewish state was attacked from every direction.
Senate Democrats’ letter espouses significant falsehoods, claiming that this plan “paves the way for full or partial Israeli annexation of the West Bank.” But there has never been much support for a call to fully annex Judea and Samaria, as that would include giving citizenship to millions of Palestinian-Arabs — many of whom call for the destruction of the state of Israel.
Senate Democrats also, un-ironically, claim that this plan “undermine[s] existing U.S. policy regarding the unilateral annexation of Crimea, eastern Ukraine.” In case the Democrats forgot, Russia invaded Crimea when the Obama administration withheld crucial military aid to the Ukranians. That was not a defensive war; it was an attack by Russia. Comparing that act with Israel winning territory in the 1967 Six-Day War, which was a defensive war, is patently insane. Additionally, Russia immediately annexed Crimea, whereas Israel limited its annexation to the city of Jerusalem — the eternal capital of the Jewish nation. Contrast that to 1948, when Jordan took over that same territory, annexed it, and left the Palestinian people in refugee camps to linger and suffer until Israel militarily defeated Jordan in 1967’s defensive conflict.
Senate Democrats also conveniently ignore the last 73 years of history when they claim that “this proposal violates the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.” The Palestinians could have asserted their right to self-determination any time from 1947 through today. They can declare a state and nobody will mind. In fact, many Israelis would welcome it. In 2000, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to Yasser Arafat the Gaza Strip, 95% of the West Bank, 5% of Israel, half of Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount), and Israeli citizenship for 50,000 Palestinians. Arafat walked away without a counteroffer and instead launched the Second Intifada. Democrats ignore that the Palestinians could have exercised their “right to self-determination.” Instead, they are choosing to stay as they are.
The Democrats complain about the proposed borders, referring to it as a “disconnected series of Palestinian islets.” They claim that this “would betray the vision of a sovereign Palestinian state.” Again, Palestinians could have had a say in this process. They chose not to. Additionally, the only “vision” that the Palestinians have of a Palestinian state is one that encompasses all of Israel and does not include any Jews.
The Democrats then have the audacity to accuse President Trump of interfering in the upcoming Israeli election, claiming that the timing “raises disturbing questions about [Trump’s] intention to intervene in the Israeli election process.” This accusation is audacious for multiple reasons. First, the Democratic Party at-large is currently in the middle of an impeachment of President Trump that Democrats themselves claim is intended to prevent him from winning re-election. Second, this is the third Israeli election in the last year, so this wouldn’t affect much of anything. Third, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s chief political rival, endorsed this plan and is bringing it up for a parliamentary vote. Finally, it is ironic that Senate Democrats are accusing Trump of interfering with Israeli elections when Obama did that in 2015 — and nobody cared.
Democrats continue their letter with their old and tiresome “President Trump isn’t a normal president” routine. “Your administration has already reversed decades of bipartisan U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it reads. “Previous presidents of both parties successfully maintained the respect of both Israelis and Palestinians for the United States’ role as a credible player in difficult negotiations.” But policies that haven’t worked for 50 years should be changed. Democrats think that if they try the same thing over and over — that “thing” being caving to terrorists — there will be different results. That is the definition of insanity. Trump’s only change from the standard “two-state solution” is that it recognizes the fact that Israel is the only actor that actually wants peace.
The Democrats are making the same mistakes with the Palestinians that they did with the Iranians: The assumption that everyone wants the same thing. They do not. Palestinian leadership wants to destroy Israel. Democrats either don’t know that, or simply don’t care.
Moshe Hill is a political analyst and a Chovevei Zion Fellow. His work can be found on aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and on Twitter @TheMoHill.