Yesterday in a speech, Pres. Trump stated that Israel will have to pay a price in the peace plan that he is working on for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there. At the same time, John Bolton, his foreign policy adviser who is currently visiting Israel, stated emphatically that there is no quid pro quo for the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the move of the Embassy. Who shall we believe in this contradictory situation?
John Bolton is a great friend of Israel and can be trusted to speak the truth, by contrast Pres Trump is a politician who is under great pressure from various legal aspects and also is known for speaking in an impromptu and sometimes erratic manner. On the other hand he is often known for taking controversial stands in order to get his “deal.” Almost every President has been sympathetic to Israel, but has been prepared to pressure Israel to make concessions to the Arab side because they are more rigid and more numerous. Could it be that Trump is merely repeating that pattern.
In several glimpses at what might be in Trump’s plan, it has been reported that Israel is prepared to grant Gaza a port in Cyprus and an airfield near Eilat with a guaranteed connection to Qatar. But, they will have to be under Israeli supervision, so that no arms are smuggled in. A leader of the Fatah movement that controls the PA has stated that Hamas will not accept this, not only because Pres. Abbas of the PA has said that the Palestinians will not cooperate with any Trump plan, but also because Hamas will never do any deal with Israel.
Maybe in the end the Trump plan will be a non-starter, as has been the fate of previous plans (remember Pres. Bush’s much-touted “Road Map for Peace”). If it is, it will be because of the persistent intransigence of the Palestinians to make any peace deal with Israel. To do so would be in effect admitting that their claim to the whole of “Palestine” is unrealistic. In that case, whether or not Israel should pay a price for the US recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, will be moot. As PM Ben Gurion admitted, he prayed when the UN were voting for the partition plan for the Palestine Mandate that the Arabs would torpedo the deal, because then Israel would be free to act. So it has been and so it will ever be.