On February 26, 2019, the Citizens Commission on National Security (CCNS) held its first major event, a symposium titled “The U.S.-Israeli Alliance and Its National Security Implications,” featuring Alan Dershowitz and an all-star line-up of experts from the worlds of military, law, politics, intelligence, Congress, diplomacy and think tanks. It was held in a TV studio in downtown Washington DC, and aired live in its entirety on JBS-TV, the Jewish Broadcasting Service. The symposium consisted of three panels, and an interview with Dershowitz.
Today we continue with the release of Part 2, the second panel of the symposium. This panel, moderated by Rabbi Mark Golub, the CEO and founder of JBS-TV, is titled “A New Peace Plan Emerges.” The panelists and their topics are as follows:
Steve Frank: Is the Anticipated U.S. Peace Proposal Good for Israel or the U.S.?
Yoram Ettinger: Would a Palestinian state advance or undermine US national security?
Cliff May: Why No Peace Plan Can Bring Peace Now
About Panel 2, “A New Peace Plan Emerges”
Featuring a second all-star panel, speakers at the Citizens’ Commission on National Security symposium on the “U.S.-Israeli Alliance and Its National Security Implications” discussed the prospects for the success of the Trump administration’s upcoming Israeli-Palestinian peace overture.
Despite repeated attempts by Israelis to foster peace through a “two-state solution,” these efforts have been met with violence, intifadas—and accusations of brutality, abuse, and occupation. Steve Frank, a former Department of Justice official, argues that Arabs have been waging wars of “annihilation” despite multiple peace talks and that Palestinians have effectively turned Gaza into a “terrorist camp.”
Little is publicly known about specifics of the Trump peace plan, except that it will likely be rolled out in April after Israeli elections, according to The Times of Israel. The Palestinians have already rejected it as biased, it reports. “What we do know [about the Trump plan] only is this: this is not going to be parameters, this is not going to be a roadmap,” commented Cliff May, founder of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, on the panel. “It’s a comprehensive plan,” he said. “It’s going to be more than 50 pages long. It’s going to attempt to deal with every single issue and set out what it sees as a fair settlement and a fair compromise on these issues, and make offers to the Palestinians for a much better life that they would get if they would accept that.”
However, the idea that Hamas, a Palestinian terror organization which strongly opposes Israel’s existence, would suddenly shift gears and support peace seems unthinkable. Some hope that Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian National Authority, might support such an agreement. May argued that this is unlikely, because terror organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, would see “an agreement with Israel on any basis that leaves Israel alive, standing, that doesn’t exterminate it, that doesn’t wipe it out as a Jewish state, that doesn’t at least make that eminently clear. They will see it as a betrayal and as a crime.” He said that the aging Abbas is also concerned with his legacy.
The panelists remained skeptical about potential peace. However, the Palestinians could act with “sophistication.” In one case the Palestinians might accept an advantageous offer featuring concessions from Israel while requiring meaningless promises that they do not intend to keep, said May. In fact, May said, the Middle East has a paradigm which ignores the possibility of win-win situations—and believes that only one side can win in a conflict.
Peace in name only could threaten Israel’s national security. “And my conclusion has been long ago that a Palestinian state would severely, severely undermine the stability of the area, and therefore very vital American national security interests,” said Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli diplomat. Frank, who also serves on the board of The Lawfare Project, said that peace has been rejected time and again. “After the 1967 war, Israel expressed an interest to the Arabs and the Palestinians that it would like to talk about giving back the territory that it won in the 1967 war, and it was met by the famous three ‘Nos’ in cartoon,” he said. “The Arabs met there and said no peace, no negotiations, no discussions, no state with the state of Israel.”
“So, what I can say to you very briefly is that Arabs have had at least seven offers for their own state and they’ve rejected each and every one of them,” said Frank. Yet, he comments, his experience is that Israelis still hold out hope.