The Path to Peace: Middle East Peace Plan is Personal

Eli Richman ’20

On January 28, 2020, seventy five years and one day after the liberation of Auschwitz, President Trump put forth his long awaited Middle East peace plan in Washington alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  President Trump has been criticized for his policy, rhetoric, and demeanor by many around the world, and I, too, disagree with much of what he says and does. However, I genuinely think he has handled Israel extremely well.  From moving the embassy to Jerusalem, to pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, to now putting forth a comprehensive peace plan, he is finally the President who has created an ironclad relationship between our two countries that must be continued by future administrations.  The security of the Middle East depends on it, and so does the freedom of Jews around the world. 

This issue is deeply personal to my family and me as my grandmother’s aunt, a Holocaust survivor, fled Hungary for Israel after the death of her parents and six sisters at Auschwitz.  She started a family who still lives outside of Tel Aviv to this very day.  

The Holocaust brought a broken people to their biblical Promised Land.  Furthermore, from 1948 to the present, over 850,000 Sephardic Jews (Middle Eastern and North African) migrated elsewhere, many to Israel, largely as a result of persecution and expulsion. Israel was formed as a safe haven for the most oppressed people in human history, which is why they must remain secure and defend themselves at all costs.  

This plan should be seen as a tremendous step forward for Israel, Jews, and an opportunity for peace as well as a sovereign state of Palestine.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes back decades to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, and since then peace has ceased to exist between the two peoples.  Peace, however, is not an impossible undertaking. President Carter brokered one of the worlds greatest peace plans at Camp David between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, whose people were rivals for thousands of years and finally found peace with one another.  If that could be accomplished, there is hope for a solution to this never ending conflict.  

What I believe sets this plan a part from past plans is the support it has from surrounding Arab Muslim countries.  Representatives from The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman all sent representatives to the event in Washington.  Even Saudi Arabia and Egypt, some of the staunchest allies of the Palestinians, urged them to negotiate with Israel under American auspices.  This is somewhat akin to achieving bipartisan support in the United States Congress, which is a rare occurrence these days on most issues.  

For the first time in the conflicts history, Arab state’s aren’t echoing Palestinian sentiments nor are they presenting themselves as aggressive enemies of Israel.  The pressure on the Palestinians is mounting as countries finally seem to be unifying around Israel and the possibility of peace. This plan is not designed to oppress the Palestinians, but rather provide them land to create their own nation, with a capital city in East Jerusalem.  They are experiencing an 15% unemployment rate in the West Bank, and a frightening 47% rate in the Gaza Strip. Fifty billion dollars in economic aid over a ten year span has been promised by the United States, should they take the deal, which would seriously improve their collapsing economy and give the next generation an opportunity at success in the future.  

It should also be noted that the frontrunner to succeed Prime Minister Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, also backed the plan.  This indicates that it is a fallacy to think the next leader of Israel will be anymore lenient with Palestinian desires. 

 The Palestinians seek control over the capital of Israel, the holiest city in the world, Jerusalem.  But this will not be agreed to by the Israelis under any circumstances, under any administration, and it is time for them to give up on this unrealistic proposition.  The time has come for the Palestinians to accept the terms of the agreement as a baseline for negotiations. The leadership of the Palestinian National Authority, most notably Mahmoud Abbas, must unequivocally condemn the jihadist terror campaign being waged by Hamas and other organizations against Israeli children and their families, and work with the Israeli government to subdue this impending threat.  Until this happens, peace cannot be achieved in any way. 

On the other side, peace won’t be found unless the Israeli military remains subdued and in check to prevent conflict and further wrongdoing on their part, which they have committed plenty of.  The growing power of Prime Minister Netanyahu is also quite alarming, and could undermine the only successful democracy in the entire Middle East.  

With that being said, I have hope that an equitable plan will be agreed upon in the future.  Although this may be overly optimistic given past events, I hope young Israelis and young Palestinians will one day, in my lifetime, be able to dance together in peace through the streets of Jerusalem. 

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