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Trump's radical message to Israel

The American president shocked many with his willingness to abandon the two-state paradigm. But that wasn’t the radical part of his message to Netanyahu and Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, February 15, 2017. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.” Ever since President Donald Trump uttered that surprising sentence at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Wednesday, commentators and politicians alike have been trying to analyze and understand what exactly he meant and what it might mean.

In Israel, Thursday morning’s headlines focused on the first part of the sentence. It was the first time in many years that an American president raised the idea of an alternative to the two-state solution — and not as a warning but rather as a possibility. The two-state solution, after all, is the only solution that has been accepted by the international community, and at least formally, by most Israelis and Palestinians.

From and Israeli perspective, however, the radical part of Trump’s message was in the second sentence.

The current Israeli political discourse, after all, tends to have one common denominator. In one corner you have the retired generals who advocate a unilateral “separation” from the Palestinians. Then you have the far-right and the likes of Naftali Bennett promoting various iterations of unilateral annexation. Netanyahu simply wants to maintain a lopsided status quo. All of those share a common point of departure: maintaining Jewish supremacy in Israel-Palestine, but more importantly, preserving Israel’s exclusive right to decide and define the resolution of the Palestinian conflict.

In Trump’s view, at least according to what he said Wednesday night (which, as we know, does not necessarily have any relation to his views Thursday morning), the desired outcome to the conflict is one that is acceptable to both sides. That doesn’t mean withdrawing to the borders Israelis want on Israeli terms. It doesn’t mean unilaterally annexing parts of the West Bank. It means an agreement.

I don’t have any illusions about Donald Trump. I am not counting on a misogynistic, racist real estate mogul to save us from ourselves. We cannot pin our hopes on anyone coming to save us. But the fact that even the United States president, on whom the Israeli Right has pinned its hopes, stated that any agreement must be acceptable to both sides is worth praising. This is an approach that, unfortunately, has been missing from the political discourse in Israel, and Trump is right to try and bring it back to center stage.

The discussion over one state or two states is an important one. But today we must admit that we live in one giant state that has been ruled by Israel for the past 50 years, or at the very least two states, with Gaza and Area A of the West Bank surrounded by Israel. However you look at it, the present situation is designed to maintain Jewish supremacy across the land, while Palestinians in different areas live under a different regimes (inside Israel, in East Jerusalem, in Areas A, B and C, and in Gaza), without allowing Palestinians a stake in determining their own fate.

If we adopt the spirit of Trump’s words, then the most important question of all is that of partnership, consent, and the equal right for all inhabitants of this small land to make decisions about our future. And with all due respect to the wonderful budding relationship and chemistry between the two leaders, that is the last thing Netanyahu is interested in.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. AJew

      In a recent poll conducted in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, it is apparent that neither side supports the one state solution. The exception was amongst Israeli citizens who are of Arab descent. Quite a few of them support the idea for obvious reasons. In the one state solution, Arabs citizens would be catapulted from a minority status to either a slight majority or into rough parity. As one of the Arab MPs crowed, I would become the next prime minister.

      Nuff said. Let’s lay that crazy idea to rest. Now the next question: how can a two state solution come about when the pin up boy “peace maker” Abbas (Abu Mazen) refuses to sit down and negotiate a peace deal without setting preconditions that he expects Israel to meet while not displaying any willingness to even looking like making compromises of his own?

      And all that while ignoring the fact that an intransigent and very influential Hamas is lurking not so much in the background but very much in the foreground. How is peace possible in such an environment? That is the sixty four dollar question?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Haggai gets it exactly right. But you know Israel’s own president wants one state and he has rare honesty about it.

      http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.771963

      Once again, the real opposition leader emerges as the only politician who speaks the truth around here. Reuven Rivlin is tearing the mask off the Israeli right wing’s face.
      When the right’s screamers cry annexation, the state president tells them there’s only one annexation – the kind that grants full, equal civil rights to all the annexed area’s residents. …
      More honest than Isaac Herzog and more decent than Yair Lapid – they have nothing to offer – Rivlin offers an alternative. We always knew he was in favor of annexation.
      On Tuesday he explained what he means when he says “no” – “no” to Herzog, Lapid and the two-state proclaimers; “no” to Netanyahu, Bennett, Ariel and the rest of the pseudo-annexation supporters – Rivlin means a state of all its citizens….

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        Ok Benny. Whatever. Just relax. No need to jump up and down every time I post something. I was talking about what most ordinary Israelis and Arabs want based on the poll that I read and anecdotally. Ok?

        As for what YOU claim what various Israeli leaders really want, that ain’t necessarily so either. But I won’t argue with you because you are not someone who listens to reason.

        In any case. Ultimately what will happen is what voters want. The ballot box is the ultimate decision maker. We don’t live in a dictatorship.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          I was responding to Haggai’s article not you. No need to jump up and down every time I post something.But now that you did, allow me to graciously inquire…

          “Ultimately what will happen is what voters want” presumes that these will be Israeli voters and not the millions of Palestinians you control but who cannot vote in your elections. Thanks for illustrating Haggai’s point. As Haggai explains:

          “All of those share a common point of departure: maintaining Jewish supremacy in Israel-Palestine, but more importantly, preserving Israel’s exclusive right to decide and define the resolution of the Palestinian conflict… [But] the desired outcome to the conflict is one that is acceptable to both sides. That doesn’t mean withdrawing to the borders Israelis want on Israeli terms. It doesn’t mean unilaterally annexing parts of the West Bank. It means an agreement…. the most important question of all is that of partnership, consent, and the equal right for all inhabitants of this small land to make decisions about our future. And with all due respect to the wonderful budding relationship and chemistry between the two leaders, that is the last thing Netanyahu is interested in.”

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Ok Benny, I get it. You are scandalised that West Bank Arabs cannot have the option of voting for a one state solution. In other words, they won’t have the option of over-riding what we (who want a 2 state solution) want.

            Please accept my sympathies but not my or most Israeli’s apologies. We won’t apologise for deciding who becomes Israeli or doesn’t. It is our choice, not theirs. You don’t like it, Benny? Then you can lump it. And I am being nice to you.

            By the way, I am speaking on behalf of Israelis who favor the two state solution, which is most of us. The ones who favor the one state solution (a minority of us) of course would automatically vote for West Bank Arabs who wish to be Israeli citizens to become Israeli citizens. Whether those Israelis realise it or not. Or want to admit it or not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You don’t get it. You can’t resolve any of your glaring hypocrisies and moral and strategic incoherences. Both Haggai Matar and Israeli president Rivlin can.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Thank you Benny. When I’ll need your advice about my morals, I’ll call you ok?

            In the meanwhile, my morals are driven at least to some extent by the same drivers which drive most human beings. Self preservation. I am sorry that it upsets you, but I feel that the one state solution will not advance the cause of my self preservation no matter what others say. And I don’t care who they are. I am not like you Benny. I am not sheep who is led by what others say. I actually have my own opinions which I am capable of defending myself instead of producing endless links to so called gurus and yogis and leaders to refer to and crow: “see, they say so too …” that is YOUR schtick, Benny-leh, not mine.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh sorry don’t let me keep you from your Vitezi Rend medal wearer lecture series. Deep stuff. You have the complete set on DVD?

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Vitezi rend, smitezi rend. Even you don’t know what irrelevancies you are babbling about Benny-leh 🤔

            Reply to Comment
          • carmen

            “Thank you Benny. When I’ll need your advice about my morals, I’ll call you ok?”

            That’s the first step baby, admitting you’ll need advice.

            Reply to Comment
        • Joshua Fisher

          “No need to jump up and down every time I post something.”

          Funny, coming from a stalking troll who kumps up and down everytime Benny says something.
          #KognitiveDisonnanz

          Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      Gosh, what can be done?
      American citizens can demand of their government that if Israel takes over one more damned square yard of land east of the Green Line it will suspend military aid. The U.S. can’t force a solution on the two parties but it can make sure that the stronger of the two doesn’t make it impossible.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        Go for it then, Bruce, some other Jew. You are not a Jew, Bruce, you are just pretending to be one, for effect. Propaganda purposes.

        Imagine that. In one hundred out of one hundred posts of this man who wants to pose to be Jewish, this Bruce guy says that 6 million Israeli Jews are always wrong and the enemies of those 6 million Jews, the Arabs, are always right. Not even once would Bruce be caught taking the side of Jews and be critical of even one teeny weeny thing in which the enemies of Jews are wrong. How is that possible? For us to be wrong in everything but everything that we do or don’t do while “the noble Arabs” are always right? According to Bruce at least.

        It’s the occupation, stupid, he always responds. But his Arab pin up boy, the so called peace maker, Abbas/Abu Mazen refused to negotiate without setting preconditions, for 8 long years, with the blessings of that other pin up boy, Obama. How is making peace possible then? And how can the occupation end without a peace deal?

        Then of course Bruce invents slogans to bash 6 million Jews over the head with, about “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Mocking us with it even though I proved to him that around the 1850s, when the Jews of Europe started returning here, the land was virtually empty (350,000 people where about 12 million people live now and there is still room for more). At every turn, this Bruce, the pretend Jew, makes it obvious that he is 100% with the enemies of 6 million Jews and 100% against 6 million Jews. What kind of a Jewish person would behave like that, Bruce?

        Do the world a favor. Stop pretending to be Jewish. Own up to who you are. At the least, you hate the 6 million Jews who live here in Israel and you have no problems in seeing harm come to us. Hey you are not alone. There are others like you. We can take your hatred. Why the pretence?

        Ok Benny, oh spokesperson of all Jew haters (another Jew hater) jump in and speak for Bruce, coz of course he can’t or won’t speak for himself when pinned down. Of course I don’t really want to hear from
        you, Benny, but I know, I just know, you will butt in. You always do. Sigh.

        Reply to Comment
        • Joshua Fisher

          Your live is more one of the boring ones, if your only thing is stalking liberals on 972mag. Does mummy know what you do in your lonely basement?

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Just one comment: Incredibly obnoxious, overly-emotional, wearisome and impenetrable, and indicative of all your deep, deep confusions.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Benny the judge about who is confused. What a laugh.

            Aaaaaand just as I predicted, he couldn’t resist butting in. What a joker.

            Hey Bruuuuuce, please thank Benny-leh. He has got your back. Pity no one has Benny’s back. He regularly makes a fool out of himself and he runs like a rabbit from questions like:

            1. Whe Abbas refuses to negotiate (for the last 8 years) without setting preconditions?

            2. How can there be peace without negotiations?

            3. How can the occupation end without a peace deal?

            Benny just shrugs his shoulders and claims that negotiating is a non issue and the questions are irrelevant.

            Go figure.

            Reply to Comment
    4. GKJames

      That may be a far too generous interpretation of the president’s comment. First, it presupposes that it has a factual foundation when there is scant evidence that the president has a clue. Second, context matters. To say whatever “both parties want” is inane on its face given the asymmetric realities. Finally, his rhetoric during the campaign and after the election has been consistent: he’s a much better friend of Israel than Obama ever was. It doesn’t take genius to recognize — as every leading Likudnik did — that what the president has provided is a green light for further expropriation and eventual annexation. To say to Netanyahu, “I’d like you to hold off on settlements for a little bit” is long way from “It means an agreement.”

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mark

      The only view I have found with Trump so far is that HE likes the solution Israelis and Palestinians both like. I can sign up for that.

      The two-state option was an easy, agreed option for the international community. Bad luck it hasn’t moved forward. Facing the reality of a one-state solution and how it might work through for both sides might just be what’s needed.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Reuven Kaminer

      עפות באוויר הצעות ידועות יותר והצעות ידועות פחות: מדינה אחת, שתי מדינות, פדרציה, קונפדרציה וכו’.
      לדעתי אין סיבה כלשהי לדון בעמדות השונות לגבי עתיד המאבק של הפלסטינים להגדרה עצמית. כל דיון בנושא זה יהיה עקר לחלוטין עד אשר יוכל רוב הציבור הפלסטיני לנקוט עמדה לגבי הצעה קונקרטית שנועדה לבטל את הכיבוש. הרבה חברים טובים דנים בנוסחאות יפות אך עדיף בעיני לרכז את כל האנרגיה למאבק נגד הכיבוש והכובשים.

      Reply to Comment
      • AJew

        מעופף הצעות האוויר? להיאבק נגד הכיבוש והכובש? למה לא לשבת ולעשות שלום?

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          !תפסיק לבלבל את הראש

          Reply to Comment
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