“Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild, he’ll never need to deal another” (Leonard Cohen, Stranger Song, © 1967 Sony/ATV Music Publishing).
In 1987 Donald Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal” was number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list for 13 weeks. Some quotes:
- “I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: If you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.”
- “Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”
- “My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”
- “The worst of times often create the best opportunities to make good deals.”
The ultimate deal
Of all the deals that Donald Trump has made in his life, the prospect of establishing peace between Israel and the Arab-Islamic world would certainly rank way up there as ‘a big deal.’ In November 2016 Trump noted: “That’s the ultimate deal . . . As a deal maker, I’d like to do … the deal that can’t be made” (www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Trump-Israeli-Palestinian-peace-would-be-ultimate-deal-472404).
November 2017 saw the initial development of the deal (www.timesofisrael.com/no-trump-doesnt-call-mideast-plan-deal-of-the-century/). Senior advisor to the President Jared Kushner, chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt, deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, and Ambassador to Israel David Friedman worked on it. The first economic part of the plan “Peace to Prosperity” was released 22 June 2019 in Manama, Bahrain. The political part of the plan is to be released on Tuesday January 28, 2020 in Washington.
The economic plan (likened to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western European economies after World War II) proposes a $50 billion investment fund for 179 infrastructure and business projects, to be funded mostly by Arab states and wealthy private investors. Most of the money would be for the West Bank and Gaza, as well as $9 billion going to Egypt, $7 billion to Jordan, and $6.3 billion to Lebanon. The proposal (www.whitehouse.gov/peacetoprosperity/) includes:
- construction of a travel corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza
- vast expansion of border crossings
- upgrading cargo terminals and power plants
- infrastructure improvements to boost tourism
- re-building and modernizing Palestinian hospitals and health clinics
- improving the potable water supply and waste water treatment
- establishing a new Palestinian university in the global top 150.
- more than doubling the Palestinian GDP and cutting the poverty rate by 50%
- creating more than a million jobs, bringing down the unemployment from 31% down to single digits
- increasing female labor force participation rate from 20% to 35%
- reducing infant mortality from 18 to 9 per 1000 births and increasing average life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.
Palestinian leaders boycotted and immediately condemned the conference. Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren explains, “The word yes does not exist in the Palestinian vocabulary. They never said yes, not to the United Nations, not to the Brits and not to anyone else … Anyone who conditions the process on a Palestinian agreement condemns it to failure … The outline should be directed at the majority of the Israeli public and the majority of the Sunni Arab world” (www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/275144).
One month after Bahrain, in December 2017, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the Trump administration after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In May 2018 the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem. It also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority citing the PA’s refusal to take part in the administration’s peace initiative.
The birth of the political deal
On January 23, 2020 Vice-President Mike Pence invited PM Netanyahu and contender Benny Gantz to Washington for the presentation of the ‘deal of the century’ (www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-regarding-visit-prime-minister-benjamin-netanyahu-israel/) on Tuesday January 28.
Though the official presentation of the plan is under wraps, major aspects of the plan have been wrapped only in cellophane, and they have been leaked to the media over the past few months (www.swp-berlin.org/10.18449/2019C20/; www.inss.org.il/publication/path-trump-peace-plan-applying-israeli-law-settlements/). Here are those fuzzy-but-soon-to-be-clarified details:
- Israel will annex the Jordan Valley
- The majority of major Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (30% of the West Bank) will be annexed by Israel
- Other Jewish settlements will be evacuated
- The Western Wall will remain under Jewish control, the Temple Mount under Jordanian/PA administration
- Parts of Jerusalem outside the security barrier (East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods) will be incorporated into Palestinian Jerusalem
- A demilitarized Palestinian state will eventually be established on 70% of the West Bank
- No ‘right of return’ for Palestinian descendants of refugees not living in Israel
- Gaza must be demilitarized and come under PA control
- Israel will have military freedom of action in the Palestinian state and control of all borders
Three political concerns
Daniel Pipes, noted authority on Islam and the Middle East, raises three concerns about this plan (www.algemeiner.com/2019/04/11/anticipating-trumps-deal-of-the-century/):
- “First, the benefits to Israel are illusory. Its peace treaties with Egypt (signed 40 years ago) and Jordan (25 years ago) did not lead to significant trade, friendly diplomatic relations, or an increase in human contact. Rather, they intensified anti-Zionist sentiments among Egyptians and Jordanians while improving their governments’ arsenals.”
- “Second, despite the Palestinians gaining real and irreversible benefits (money, territory, legitimacy), they with certainty will continue their century-old pattern of rejecting Israel through campaigns of delegitimization and violence, as has been the case since the first Palestinian-Israeli agreement in 1993.”
- “Third, should Israelis complain to Trump about that delegitimization and violence, he will likely respond with annoyance: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is now ‘off the table’ and they should move on. Should they persist, his predictable rage will damage not just Israel but also the anti-Iran campaign and anti-Islamist efforts in general. In short, the reported plan repeats the great miscalculation of traditional Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy by asking too little of Arabs and too much of Israelis.”
Palestinian Islamists are not that ‘into’ peace
Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a January 22 2020 tweet that Trump’s proposal is “the fraud of the century.” Arafat’s Fatah recently accused Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh of siding with Trump and Netanyahu, of being a promotor for the “deal of the century” (https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2059836/fatah-says-haniyeh%E2%80%99s-tour-aimed-promoting-%E2%80%98deal-century%E2%80%99)
The main Arab power blocks in the West Bank and Gaza see the weakening and destruction of the Jewish state as a long term realistic goal. Whether the worldview is jihadi (Gaza’s Hamas and Islamic Jihad) or Fatah/PLO in the West Bank, all Palestinian sides officially declare their deep hostility to any and all U.S. proposals. If Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah/PLO do not accept the plan, then one cannot speak about two sides to this deal. Europe and Russia are opposed to American influence and strategies here as well.
In June 2019 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he “was not in any way confident that the process would lead to a successful conclusion” (www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Pompeo-opens-up-about-Trump-peace-plan-in-closed-door-meeting-591415). In light of this statement, it might be helpful to remember two other quotes from “The Art of the Deal:”
- “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead. The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have. Leverage is having something the other guy wants. Or better yet, needs. Or best of all, simply can’t do without. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case . . .”
- “In the end, you’re measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish”
Change you can’t believe in
The upcoming U.S. elections reveal deep cracks in the American body politic. In days past President Obama made and implemented his policies unilaterally – “with a pen and a phone.” President Trump has moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem with the same pen and phone. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro recently stated:
- “I think Israeli citizens should take into account that in less than a year there could be a new, Democratic administration – if not in a year then in five years. Trump won’t be president forever. It is important to know that any Democratic candidate will oppose this plan and that no Democratic president will be bound by it . . . A new administration will be committed to the two-state solution – the traditional, historic position of the United States . . . If Trump is encouraging Israel to take unilateral steps such as annexing the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs, that guarantees there will be a clash with a Democratic administration in less than a year. I don’t think this is a positive thing for the relations between the countries, and I advise against immediate actions that future administrations will oppose” (www.timesofisrael.com/no-future-democratic-president-will-accept-trump-plan-says-former-us-envoy/).
President Obama’s deputy spokesman Mark Toner, said much the same in his Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC November 10, 2016: “Since Israel’s founding, the administrations of both parties have maintained a consistent policy here and that is recognizing no state as having sovereignty over Jerusalem. And we remain committed to this long-standing policy – we, the Obama Administration” (https://2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2016/11/264237.htm).
Dividing Jerusalem from God’s perspective
One of the clearest passages dealing with the return of Messiah Yeshua describes how He will judge all nations based on their actions regarding the Jewish integrity of Jerusalem:
“For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem – I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and they have divided up My land” (Joel 3:1-2)
President Trump has done more for the security and the protection of the Jewish people than any other U.S. President bar none. But it is important to remember that the Bible trumps the perspectives of even the best U.S. President. Daniel Pipes wryly notes, “So far, Trump has been ‘the most pro-Israel president ever,’ but as the Bible reminds us, ‘put not your trust in princes’” (Psalm 118:9).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for revelation to come to President Trump and PM Bibi Netanyahu about God’s perspective on dividing Jerusalem
- Pray for an infusion of divine courage for all decision makers here
- Pray for the frustration of all terrorist plans against the Jewish people and their state
- Pray for the spirit of grace and supplications to be poured out on the Jewish people
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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