Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Trump’s indecision is sinking his own two-state solution


President Trump’s failure to release a detailed plan showing the specific borders of a Palestinian Arab State incorporating Gaza and about 70% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) - before he leaves office at midday on January 20, 2021—will sink the only two-state solution that has any possibility of being implemented in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

President-elect Biden seems set to support the failed two-state solution propagated by the United Nations for the last 25 years — which is unacceptable to Israel.

When releasing his comprehensive plan “Peace to Prosperity — A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” (“Peace Plan”) on January 28, 2020—Trump pointed out:

“For the first time in this conflict, President Trump has reached an understanding with Israel regarding a map setting forth borders for a two-state solution.
This Vision proposes a realistic two-state solution, offering a viable path to Palestinian statehood.
Israel has now agreed to terms for a future Palestinian State.”
Trump’s Peace Plan — unlike any other Presidential solution previously offered by his predecessors —was accompanied by the following conceptual plans showing his proposed two-state solution.

The final borders were to be determined in direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on January 28, 2020—Trump announced:
“We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that [Israeli] recognition can be immediately achieved.

We will also work to create a contiguous territory within the future Palestinian State for when the conditions for statehood are met, including the firm rejection of terrorism.”
Trump’s Peace Plan was rejected by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on February 5, 2020:
“They told me Trump wants to send me the deal of the century to read, I said I would not,” Abbas told the meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.

“Trump asked that I speak to him over the phone, so I said ‘no’, and that he wants to send me a letter, so I refused to receive it.”
On February 9, 2020 - US Ambassador to Israel—David Friedman—affirmed:
“The process [preparing a detailed map—ed] will not last very long, but we want to go through a process… We’re going to go through a mapping process to convert a map which is drawn of more than a million to one into something which really shows on the ground how the territory will be put together.

It’s not unduly difficult, but it’s also not simple, because there are a lot of judgment calls. We don’t want to do this piecemeal …

We want to do it once, holistically, in totality, and get it done right. We just want to get it done right. That’s not too much to ask. And that was the president’s message when he spoke about it the first time.”
On February 15, 2020 - the three US members of a joint US-Israel committee to join Israel’s three nominees in translating Trump’s conceptual plans into two defined territorial entities were announced (Mapping Committee).

Eleven months later the Mapping Committee’s map remains under tight wraps. No reasons have been given for the Committee’s failure to publish.

Failing to release the Committee’s detailed map before January 20 will see Trump’s two-state solution sink into political oblivion — leaving no defined borders for future Israel-PLO negotiations — should they ever be resumed.

President Trump’s opportunity to finally end the 100 years-old unresolved Jewish-Arab conflict will then have become just a footnote in history — joining the failed attempts of his Presidential predecessors.

Author’s note: The cartoon—commissioned exclusively by the author —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

Monday, January 4, 2021

Trump pulls off another miracle in the Middle East

President Trump appears to have been instrumental in pulling off yet another miracle in the Middle East with the announcement that Saudi Arabia would be reopening its airspace and land and sea border with Qatar.

The announcement — which comes on the eve of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on 5 January — is the catalyst that will see the resolution of a political dispute that led Saudi Arabia and its allies – Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt — to impose a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar in June 2017.

Qatar was then accused of having ties with Iran that were deemed too close.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will attend the GCC summit – having received a formal invitation from Saudi King Salman to the six-nation summit.

The Saudi News Agency has reported Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stating: 

 “that the upcoming GCC summit shall be a summit to close the ranks and unify the stance and to enhance the march of the good and prosperity, adding that we will translate through the summit,”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner had visited Saudi Arabia and Qatar last November in an attempt to secure such a reconciliation agreement.

One week earlier—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reported to have secretly met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia denied the meeting took place — but Israel didn’t.

Mr. Netanyahu’s meeting with Mohammed bin Salman – reportedly in the seaside corner of northwest Saudi Arabia — coincided with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit. Yossi Cohen—the director of Israel’s spy agency Mossad — reportedly accompanied Netanyahu.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud had hinted a rapprochement with Qatar was very near when he told the MED 2020 Rome forum on 4 December 2020:
“We’ve made significant progress in the last few days, thanks to the continuing efforts of Kuwait but also thanks to strong support from President Trump and US administration towards bringing all parties closer”
The significance of such a looming reconciliation was summed up by al Khalej Today:

“an extraordinary Saudi movement has emerged in the direction of promoting the achievement of a reconciliation that has become within reach, as the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan, has already mentioned. A reconciliation in which Riyadh is happy, as it believes, as well as its ally Washington, that the Gulf reunification will constitute, if Israel is annexed to it, a united front in the face of Iran, which will stand as an impregnable barrier to any step that contradicts the policy of “maximum pressure”.

GCC Secretary General Nayef Mubarak Al Hajraf has welcomed the reopening of airspace and land and sea borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia:
“The step, which comes ahead of the 41st GCC summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, reflects the great interest and sincere efforts being made to ensure the success of the summit, which is held in light of extraordinary circumstances,”

 Kushner will reportedly be attending the signing ceremony to end the blockade of Qatar.

Anwar Gargash — UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs — describing the upcoming summit as “historic” – stated:
“We stand before a historic summit in Al-Ula, through which we restore our Gulf cohesion and ensure that security, stability and prosperity is our top priority. We have more work ahead and we are moving in the right direction,”
Could these developments herald more Arab states soon joining Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco in recognizing Israel?

President Trump keeps continuing to pull more rabbits out of the hat.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Morocco backing Trump Peace Plan can help end Arab-Jewish conflict

 [Published 29 December 2020]

Morocco’s Prime Minister, Saad-Eddine El Othmani, has cast a shadow over Morocco’s newly emerging diplomatic ties with Israel as his Government rejects President Trump’s peace plan providing for a demilitarized Palestinian Arab state in Gaza and 70% of Judea and Samaria (Peace Plan).

Following the White House announcement on December 11th that Trump had brokered an agreement between Israel and Morocco to make peace, normalize their relations, and resume full diplomatic relations—Othmani said that King Mohammed VI had phoned PLO President Mahmoud Abbas:
“to tell him that His Majesty’s position in support of the Palestinian cause remains unshakeable, and that Morocco places it at the same level of Sahara issue”
The Sahara issue Othmani referred to was the historic Proclamation signed by Trump on December 4, 2020:
“I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim that, the United States recognizes that the entire Western Sahara territory is part of the Kingdom of Morocco.”
In justifying his Proclamation — Trump stated:
“The United States affirms, as stated by previous Administrations, its support for Morocco’s autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory. Therefore, as of today, the United States recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory and reaffirms its support for Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal as the only basis for a just and lasting solution to the dispute over the Western Sahara territory. The United States believes that an independent Sahrawi State is not a realistic option for resolving the conflict and that genuine autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty is the only feasible solution”
Othmani - who heads the conservative Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) — after revealing the King’s phone call to Abbas — then lashed out at Trump’s Peace Plan, his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his recognition that Israel had legal rights to claim sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights:
“We also adopt this principle [in the government], with our constant emphasis on rejecting the Deal of the Century, and all violations of the Israeli occupation authorities, especially the recent attempts to Judaize Jerusalem,”
Supporting Trump’s two-state-solution as espoused in Trump’s Peace Plan is not inconsistent with supporting the “Palestinian cause”.

Othmani is no supporter of the Morocco-Israel peace deal as he made clear in August:
“We refuse any normalisation with the Zionist entity because this emboldens it to go further in breaching the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Othmani was clearly over-ruled by the King — as the pace of peace between Israel and Morocco quickens.

A three-person delegation landed in Israel this past Sunday to handle logistics ahead of reopening the Moroccan liaison office in Tel Aviv - which it has maintained for the past 20 years since Morocco cut official ties.

Israel had also retained its closed office in Morocco.

Last week White House Special Adviser Jared Kushner led an Israeli-US delegation to Morocco when both countries committed to reopening these offices within two weeks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has invited Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to visit Israel —reportedly telling him — quoting from the film Casablanca.
“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,”
It certainly will be if the King:
  • endorses Trump’s Peace Plan,
  • calls on Abbas to begin negotiations with Israel on Trump’s plan and
  • disassociates himself unreservedly from Othmani’s inflammatory anti-Israel views
Trump’s Peace Plan — with Morocco’s backing — can help end the 100 years-old unresolved Arab-Jewish conflict.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Trashing Trump’s two-state solution would be the height of folly

 [Published 23 December 2020]

A departing President’s ability to make decisions seeking to impact his successor’s future actions —even as he is vacating the White House in the last weeks of his Presidency — was dramatically illustrated on December 23, 2016 when America failed to veto Security Council Resolution 2334.

Then Secretary of State — John Kerry —  explained why the Obama-Biden administration had taken that decision on the eve of handing over to the Trump-Pence administration:
“In the end, we could not in good conscience protect the most extreme elements of the settler movement as it tries to destroy the two-state solution. We could not in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred and violence. It is not in U.S. interest to help anyone on either side create a unitary state. And we may not be able to stop them, but we cannot be expected to defend them. And it is certainly not the role of any country to vote against its own policies.

That is why we decided not to block the UN resolution that makes clear both sides have to take steps to save the two-state solution while there is still time. And we did not take this decision lightly.”
Kerry painstakingly pointed out that America had nothing to do with drafting Resolution 2334:
"The United States did not draft or originate this resolution, nor did we put it forward. It was drafted by Egypt—it was drafted and I think introduced by Egypt, which is one of Israel’s closest friends in the region, in coordination with the Palestinians and others… In the end, we did not agree with every word in this resolution. There are important issues that are not sufficiently addressed or even addressed at all. But we could not in good conscience veto a resolution that condemns violence and incitement and reiterates what has been for a long time the overwhelming consensus and international view on settlements and calls for the parties to start taking constructive steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground."
Abstaining on — rather than vetoing — Resolution 2334 — when it did not address or sufficiently address important issues — was irresponsible.

Kerry showed how out of touch the outgoing Obama-Biden administration was with President-elect Trump’s intentions:
“President Obama and I know that the incoming administration has signaled that they may take a different path, and even suggested breaking from the longstanding U.S. policies on settlements, Jerusalem, and the possibility of a two-state solution. That is for them to decide. That’s how we work. But we cannot—in good conscience—do nothing, and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away… This is a time to stand up for what is right. We have long known what two states living side by side in peace and security looks like. We should not be afraid to say so.”
Kerry specifically recounted Israel’s former Prime Minister Peres telling him:
“The original mandate gave the Palestinians 48 percent, now it’s down to 22 percent. I think 78 percent is enough for us.”
Revisionist rubbish: The original mandate gave the Arabs 78% — now Jordan. The Jews were promised a national home in the remaining 22% — now down to 17% — now Israel. The remaining 5% comprises Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

Trump’s Peace Plan provides a detailed and comprehensive two-state solution:
  • Israel: with its current borders extended to include 30% of Judea and Samaria
  • A demilitarised Palestinian Arab State: comprising Gaza and 70% of Judea and Samaria.
Trashing Trump’s Plan going forward would be the height of folly.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Israel says hi to Morocco, Bhutan, Dubai and bye bye to Ashrawi

 [Published 16 December 2020]

Another momentous week has seen President Trump broker diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco — whilst Bhutan and Israel established diplomatic ties and Israel’s first commercial flight to Dubai occurred.

It is also the week in which long serving member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee — Hanan Ashrawi — chose to resign.

Ashrawi was clearly miffed at the way her intended resignation was treated:
“I met with President Mahmoud Abbas on November 24, 2020 and we had a candid and amicable discussion in which I informed him of my decision to resign from the Executive Committee, effective the end of the year.

I sent the resignation in writing on November 26, 2020, with the agreement that it will not be publicly disclosed until all necessary arrangements are concluded.

Regrettably, news of my resignation was leaked from “senior sources” in a misleading and irresponsible manner that lead to conjecture and rumours.”
Ashrawi was having no truck with Abbas’s belated attempt to pacify her:
“I refrained from making any comments until I communicated with President Abbas on Tuesday, December 8, and agreed to the disclosure of my resignation and publication of the letter.

The President responded that evening with a notation on my letter deferring the decision to the Palestine Central Council.

While I appreciate and respect the President’s position, I reaffirm my resignation and consider it to be in effect. ”
The reasons for Ashrawi’s resignation were unambiguous:
“I believe it is time to carry out the required reform and to activate the PLO in a manner that restores its standing and role, including by respecting the mandate of the Executive Committee rather than its marginalization and exclusion from decision-making.

The Palestinian political system needs renewal and reinvigoration with the inclusion of youth, women, and additional qualified professionals.”
Certainly — the tired old faces on the Executive Committee — and the PLO’s outdated policies — need rejuvenation.

Abbas’s continuing refusal to negotiate with Israel on Trump’s "deal of the century”— offering the PLO a demilitarized state in Gaza and 70% of Judea and Samaria — is fast becoming another lost opportunity — as a fourth Arab state — Morocco — joins the United Arab Emirates, Bahrein and Sudan in calling for an end to the 100 years old unresolved Arab-Jewish conflict.

The PLO — emboldened by its belief that Trump has lost the elections — will not come to the negotiating table to finalise Trump’s proposals with Israel — preferring to cling to decades-old claims— still supported by Biden, the United Nations and European Union — demanding Gaza and 100% of Judea and Samaria.

Trump — as a result — seems set to give Israel the go-ahead — at a time of Israel’s choosing — to extend Israeli sovereignty in the 30% of Judea and Samaria specifically designated for Israel in Trump’s plan.

Trump has also recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara — rejecting the status quo and driving toward what Trump considers the only serious, credible, and realistic solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

Trump declared:
“The United States believes that Morocco’s autonomy plan is the only realistic option to achieve a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable solution to the dispute over Western Sahara…

… This recognition leaves room for a negotiated solution and the United States remains committed to working with Morocco, the Polisario, and all involved regional and international actors to support the necessary work ahead and create a more peaceful and prosperous region.”
Trump’s circuit- breaking proposals for Judea and Samaria — and now Western Sahara — assures Trump a place in history no other American President has managed to achieve.

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Trump will not let UN, PLO and Biden bury his Peace Plan

 [Published 30 November 2020]

The Trump-haters are circling Trump’s life raft promising a comprehensive Middle East peace — but Trump can repel their determined efforts to sink it if he is not nominated as President when the Electoral College votes on December 14th.

United Nations Secretary-General Guterres is not remotely interested in pursuing Trump’s Peace to Prosperity Vision— which calls for Israeli sovereignty to be extended to about 30% of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) — with an independent demilitarized Palestinian Arab State being established in the remaining 70% and Gaza (Peace Plan).

Guterres remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis resolving the conflict:
“in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements in pursuit of the vision of two states.”
Guterres will be exhorting international support for UNSC Resolution 2334 — which Obama and Biden shamefully failed to veto on December 23, 2016 — abstaining instead — as they were departing the White House.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) seemingly does not have any interest in Trump’s Peace Plan — a PLO official recently declaring:

“We have received many positive messages from the Biden team in the past few days. We are looking forward to opening a new page with the Biden administration after the damage caused by the Trump administration.”

The PLO refused to negotiate with Israel on Trump’s Peace Plan even before its details were published last January. Biden also seems certain to trash Trump’s Peace Plan if elected America’s next President.

The Times of Israel reports:
“According to Israeli political sources, Biden’s team intends to reinstate negotiations between Israel and the PLO on the basis of the long-mordant Oslo accords. The sources claim Biden is even taking Oslo mediator Dennis Ross out of cold storage for that purpose. Ross’s longtime deputy Aaron David Miller penned an op-ed in Canada’s National Post this week where he argued that President Trump has been bad for Israel and good for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Another Biden favourite presently in cold storage — failed negotiator Martin Indyk — wrote this week:
“The first priority is to repair the damage wrought by the Trump administration. Trump’s “deal” should be taken off the table when he departs the White House. Relations should be restored with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, which were severed in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. U.S. aid to projects that provide vital support to the Palestinian people should be revived. The U.S. Embassy should stay in Jerusalem, Israel’s designated capital, but Biden should declare that he also recognizes that Palestinians aspire to have the capital of their state in East Jerusalem”
Replacing negotiations on Trump’s detailed territorial plan of proposed subdivision with failed negotiations that have gone nowhere over the last 25 years is a recipe for disaster.

Trump’s options for progressing his Peace Plan and thwarting its detractors could include:
  • Releasing the map that has been prepared by the joint American-Israel Mapping Committee showing the precise areas set aside for Israel and a Palestinian Arab state
  • Declaring Israel is entitled to extend sovereignty in the Israel-designated area of the map at any time Israel deems appropriate
  • Asserting that if the area designated for a Palestinian Arab state on the map is not accepted—then that area should remain as an Arab enclave to be administered by Hamas and the PLO as presently exists—or administered by Jordan and Egypt as the last sovereign Arab States to occupy Gaza and Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967.
Trump — being Trump — is not going to let his Peace Plan be buried by the UN, PLO and Biden.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2020

PLO could soon be negotiating with Israel on Trump peace plan

 [Published 20 November 2020]

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) could soon be negotiating with Israel on President Trump’s peace plan — after suddenly announcing on November 17th that it would resume its relationship with Israel as existed before May 19th.

PLO head—Mahmoud Abbas—had broken off all contacts with Israel since May — when declaring:
“The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones. The Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine.”
Abbas’s decision came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told the Israeli Knesset just a few days earlier:
“It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism. These territories [Judea and Samaria (West Bank)—ed.] are where the Jewish nation was born and grew”
President Trump’s Middle East plan — released in January — had endorsed Israeli sovereignty on 30 percent of Judea and Samaria in a departure from long-standing U.S. policy.

America’s Ambassador to Israel — David Friedman — had made clear on 6 May that Israel could not act unilaterally without negotiating with the PLO:
“The expectation is that the prime minister will agree to negotiate, and if the Palestinians show up, he will negotiate in good faith based on this plan.”
Friedman however warned:
“If the Palestinians refuse to show up, I’m not sure what else the prime minister can do. But I think there ought to be an unequivocal communication to the Palestinians that they are invited to negotiate in good faith on the president’s vision.”
Netanyahu gave that commitment on June 29:
“I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century trying to destroy Israel. They should embrace Trump’s vision. They should sit down and negotiate in good faith. They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Israel is prepared for such negotiations. I am prepared for such a negotiation. And I’m sure that many Arab states in our region are hoping we enter such negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Alternate Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz also urged Abbas to reconsider his refusal to negotiate:
“and not miss another opportunity for positive change, for peace and for prosperity.”
Netanyahu added that the Trump Peace Plan:
“is anchored in a foundation of truth” and “makes clear that the Jewish people have a valid, legal, historic and moral claim to Judea and Samaria, and it supports Israel’s sovereignty over the Jewish communities there.”
Abbas has remained unmoved by these urgings — until now.

Instead — Abbas has witnessed the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan normalize their relations with Israel — with Israel holding off any action to unilaterally extend Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas has also seen Trump fighting against the odds to become America’s next President.

If Abbas was ever to secure Gaza and 70% of Judea and Samaria offered by Trump for a demilitarized Palestinian Arab State — he had to act now — and he has.

60 days are left for the commencement and finalisation of negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

Should negotiations not occur or fail — an independent Palestinian Arab state — promised between Jordan and Israel for the first time in recorded history — will end up in the graveyard of failed Middle East diplomatic initiatives.

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.