December 7, 2023

Throughout my 9 days of reporting lately in Israel and the West Financial institution, little did I do know that essentially the most revealing second would come within the closing hours of my go to. As I used to be packing to depart on Saturday night time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a information convention during which he indicated that Israel and america don’t have a shared imaginative and prescient of how Israel ought to full its conflict in Gaza or easy methods to convert any Israeli victory over Hamas into an enduring peace with the Palestinians.

With out such a shared technique, the Biden administration and the American individuals, significantly American Jews who help Israel, might want to make some fateful selections.

We must both change into captives of Netanyahu’s technique — which might take us all down with him — or articulate an American imaginative and prescient for the way the Gaza conflict should finish. That will require a Biden administration plan to create two states for 2 indigenous peoples dwelling within the areas of Gaza, the West Financial institution and Israel.

Sure, I’m speaking a couple of wartime peace plan that, if Israel agreed, might assist give Israel the time, legitimacy, allies and sources it must defeat Hamas — with out getting caught governing all of Gaza and all the West Financial institution without end, with no political horizon for the Palestinians.

And don’t have any phantasm, Netanyahu is providing just one imaginative and prescient proper now: Seven million Jews attempting to manipulate 5 million Palestinians in perpetuity — and that could be a prescription for catastrophe for Israel, America, Jews in all places and America’s reasonable Arab allies.

The Biden plan — are you sitting down? — might really use as certainly one of its beginning factors President Donald Trump’s proposal for a two-state resolution, as a result of Netanyahu embraced that in 2020, when he had a unique coalition. (Netanyahu and his ambassador in Washington virtually wrote the Trump plan.) Extra on that in a second.

Right here is why we’re at a juncture that calls for daring concepts, beginning this previous Saturday night time. Speaking in Hebrew in a information convention with Protection Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz, Netanyahu rejected U.S. and world considerations over the 1000’s of Palestinian lives already misplaced to the conflict to uproot Hamas from Gaza. Much more essential, he declared that Israel’s navy would stay in Gaza “so long as mandatory” to stop the Gaza Strip from ever once more getting used to launch assaults on Israeli civilians.

Gaza “can be demilitarized,” he said. “There can be no additional risk from the Gaza Strip on Israel, and to make sure that, for so long as mandatory, I.D.F. will management Gaza safety to stop terrorism from there,” he added, referring to the Israel Protection Forces.

These are reputable Israeli considerations, given the Hamas atrocities of Oct. 7, however Netanyahu additionally indicated that Israel would oppose the return of the Palestinian Authority — Israel’s associate within the Oslo peace course of that governs Palestinians within the West Financial institution — to Gaza after the conflict. The authority, Netanyahu mentioned, is “a civil authority that educates its kids to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, to remove the State of Israel … an authority that pays the households of murderers based mostly on the quantity they murdered … an authority whose chief nonetheless has not condemned the horrible bloodbath 30 days later.”

Bibi — who by no means provides the Palestinian Authority credit score for the way it works day-after-day with Israeli safety officers to dampen violence within the West Financial institution — supplied no suggestion of how and from the place another, reputable Palestinian governing authority able to work with Israel may emerge.

This was an in-your-face rebuke of the Biden administration place articulated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken final Wednesday. As The Times reported, Blinken declared throughout a gathering of overseas ministers in Tokyo that Gaza ought to be unified with the West Financial institution underneath the Palestinian Authority as soon as the conflict is over.

To retain America’s Arab and Western allies, Blinken mentioned that proper now — as we speak — we should articulate “affirmative components to get to a sustained peace.” And “these should embody the Palestinian individuals’s voices and aspirations on the heart of postcrisis governance in Gaza,” he mentioned. “It should embody Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Financial institution underneath the Palestinian Authority.”

My four-word translation of Blinken’s proposal to Israel: “Assist us assist you.”

Blinken, although, additionally supplied no particulars of how that may occur. The Biden group must flesh that out.

Why is Netanyahu attempting to destroy the Palestinian Authority as a governing choice for a postwar Gaza? As a result of he’s already campaigning to carry on to energy after the Gaza conflict is over, and he is aware of there can be an enormous surge of Israelis demanding he step down due to how he and his far-right cronies distracted and divided Israel and its navy by pursuing a judicial coup that Israeli intelligence sources advised Netanyahu was emboldening and tempting enemies comparable to Hamas and Hezbollah.

The one method Netanyahu can keep in energy is that if his far-right allies don’t abandon him, significantly Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Nationwide Safety Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. So to carry the help of the Jewish supremacists in his cupboard — a few of whom need Israel to erect settlements in Gaza as quickly as doable — Netanyahu has to declare now that the Palestinians may have no reputable, unbiased illustration in Gaza or the West Financial institution.

Sure, I do know it’s exhausting to imagine, however Netanyahu is campaigning in the course of this conflict.

It’s time for President Biden to create a second of fact for everybody — for Netanyahu, for the Palestinians and their supporters, for Israel and its supporters and for AIPAC, the pro-Israel foyer. Biden must clarify that America is not going to be Netanyahu’s helpful fool. We’re going to lay down the ideas of a good peace plan for the morning after this conflict — one which displays our pursuits and that may even allow us to help Israel and reasonable Palestinians and win the help of reasonable Arabs for an financial reconstruction of Gaza after the conflict.

I can’t see any main financial help for the rebuilding of Gaza coming from Europe or from nations just like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia except Israel and a few reputable Palestinian authority are dedicated to the ideas of a peace framework to create two states for 2 peoples.

Biden must say: “Israel, we’re overlaying your flank militarily with our two plane carriers, financially with $14 billion in help and diplomatically on the U.N. The worth for that’s your acceptance of a peace framework based mostly on two states for 2 indigenous peoples in Gaza, the West Financial institution and pre-1967 Israel.” This plan relies on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which was additionally the cornerstone for negotiations within the peace plan put forward by Trump in 2020.

“Bibi, do you keep in mind what you mentioned about that Trump plan that gave Palestinians about 70 p.c of the West Financial institution for a state, plus an expanded Gaza Strip and a capital within the space of Jerusalem?” Biden might add. “Right here’s the Related Press story of Jan. 28, 2020, to remind you: ‘Netanyahu referred to as it a “historic breakthrough” equal in significance to the nation’s declaration of independence in 1948.’”

The Palestinian Authority foolishly rejected the Trump plan outright as an alternative of asking to make use of it as a place to begin. This can be a likelihood to make up for that mistake — or be uncovered as unserious.

In his precious new e book on the historical past of the peace course of, “(In)Sights: Peacemaking in the Oslo Process Thirty Years and Counting,” Gidi Grinstein, a member of Ehud Barak’s negotiating group at Camp David, argues that the Trump plan supplies a pure basis for a revived peace course of for a two-state resolution.

That isn’t solely as a result of Netanyahu already agreed to it, Grinstein advised me in an interview, even when the settler hard-liners in his cupboard didn’t and nonetheless wouldn’t. It’s additionally viable as a result of the Trump plan was really based mostly on the situation that peace was doable solely after Hamas was faraway from energy in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority might assume management of the Gaza Strip, which, the Trump plan argued, can be expanded by land carved from Israel’s Negev Desert.

Biden might additionally suggest that with the assistance of our reasonable Arab allies, such because the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain, we might provide you with a plan to overtake the Palestinian Authority, purge its schooling system of anti-Israel materials, improve its forces that work day by day with Israeli safety groups within the West Financial institution and section out its monetary help for Palestinian prisoners who harmed Israelis.

Is the Palestinian Authority as much as such a deal? Are progressive Palestinian supporters within the West who chant the eliminationist mantra “From the river to the ocean, Palestine can be free” up for it? Will Israel’s silent majority be if Hamas is defeated?

Let’s see what all of them actually stand for — or if they’ve a greater reply — as a result of neither goes to vanish. Biden must put all of them to the check.

I do know that a number of American Jewish leaders privately would love Biden to place ahead such a plan, however up to now just one, Ronald Lauder, a longtime Republican and the president of the World Jewish Congress, has had the braveness to name for it — in a Saudi newspaper, no much less, in an essay titled, “A Time for Peace and a Two-State Resolution.” As he defined, “Solely a two-state resolution would assure Israelis and Palestinians a life in dignity, security and with a greater perspective on the financial scenario, which might result in a sustainable future.”

Such a plan would defend America’s pursuits and clarify that we care about what’s finest for Israelis and Palestinians and our allies within the area, not what’s finest for Bibi’s political future — which a number of Israeli analysts advised me can be to pull out the conflict, so he couldn’t be ousted by mass demonstrations, or to pull us right into a battle with Iran in hopes that it might overshadow all his errors.

If a two-state plan was embraced by Israel, even with reservations, it might reinforce for the world that Israel sees its conflict in Gaza as certainly one of mandatory self-defense and a prelude to lasting peace. And if such a plan was embraced by the Palestinian Authority, even with reservations, that will reinforce that the authority intends to be the choice to Hamas in shaping an unbiased future for Palestinians alongside Israel — and that it’s going to not be a bystander to Hamas’s insanity or a sufferer of it.

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