- Policy Analysis
- Fikra Forum
Among the Maps: President Trump's Vision vs. an Israeli Proposal
Carmel Dangor of the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation published a leaked Israeli proposal for annexation in late June, which shows the difference between President Trump's vision and a subsequently developed Israeli map. This new Israeli map shows a very different concept than the Trump map. While Israel would get 30% of the West Bank in both proposals, the Israeli map focuses on Israel annexing all settlements and outposts (eliminating the enclaves in President Trump’s map) with room for expansion and reducing the number of Palestinians in Israeli territory, at the expense of maintaining areas important for Israel’s security.
Without any public acknowledgment, there are indications that Prime Minister Netanyahu has authorized his most senior subordinates to relay to the Trump White House in recent months a new map that ensures all of the Israeli settlements will be in Israel. The new map creates fresh speculation about why the White House has been so insistent on Netanyahu’s reaffirmation of the Trump Plan. It is seen as Netanyahu expressing dissatisfaction with the Trump Peace Plan and responding to the Israeli right’s desire to modify the contours of a Palestinian entity even further. The map is also bound to be interpreted as fragmenting a Palestinian entity beyond what was envisioned by the Trump Peace Plan, even if there is off-set West Bank land for the Palestinians to maintain the territorial ratio in the Trump plan.
The White House toiled for more than two years on its Peace Plan, which was presented in January 2020 along with two maps. As soon as the plan was introduced, the maps caught the attention of the world, though they were published on the size of a letter page and labeled as conceptual maps only. However, when Prime Minister Netanyahu began to discuss his intention to pursue annexation, the conceptual maps were immediately enlarged and used as the basis for determining Prime Minister Netanyahu's idea of the scope of annexation.
On June 30, 2020, journalist Carmel Dangor of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Authority published a leaked map that Israel allegedly offered to the Americans, prepared in response to Trump's map immediately after the publication of the American plan. Various proposals were submitted to the Israeli team led by the Director General of the Prime Minister's Office and with the participation of Minister Yariv Levin, Meir Ben Shabbat, Chief of the National Security Staff, and Ron Dermer, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States—this map is believed to their final product. In the absence of any additional maps released by the IDF or the Israeli Civil Administration, it can be assumed that this map is a consensus of the various elements of the Israeli government.
The concept behind the territorial aspects of President Trump's Plan’s is two states living in peace with economic and security cooperation and deep economic and political ties with Jordan and Egypt. Israel is given sovereignty over regions seen as important for its security: the Jordan Valley, the Jerusalem corridor, and the area that controls Israel's urban and economic center, namely Gush Dan and Ben Gurion International Airport. In total area, Israel receives 30% of the West Bank (according to Israel's account), including 115 of the 130 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and 97% of the settlers living there. 15 small Israeli settlements with 13,300 settlers (less than 3%) would remain in the territory designated for the Palestinian state, but would be under Israeli control and have free access to Israel. The Trump plan offers Palestinians a state in 70% of the West Bank, in addition to the Gaza Strip and 15% of swap territory from Israel in areas adjacent to the West Bank and the Western Negev. In places where the Palestinian and Israeli portions of the West Bank meet, a "road interchange" is planned that would allow for unlimited traffic. The Palestinian area includes 97% of Palestinian residents of the West Bank and all residents of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and in the territory annexed to Israel would be granted civil residential rights in Israel and could be citizens of the Palestinian state.
The recently leaked Israeli map presents a completely different concept, which seems skewed towards the preferences of the right-wing settler movement. While it maintains the ratio of
30% of the West Bank for Israel and 70% for Palestinians, the composition of the territory diverges. The map includes all 130 settlements in territory annexed to Israel along with all Israeli outposts, also leaving room for their expansion. This map also includes less than 1% of Palestinians in the territory annexed to Israel.
In order to change the demographic makeup of the territory allocated to Israel, the map drastically reduces Israeli control over the security zones around Gush Dan, Ben Gurion Airport, and the Jerusalem corridor. This is because the security areas north of the Jerusalem Corridor and to the west of Road 446 are where many Palestinians live. The map also shows that the Jordan Valley and the northern shore of the Dead Sea are narrower in order to increase the potential area for the expansion of settlements. Special emphasis is given to Israeli sovereignty over all the main roads in the West Bank that serve Israeli settlements, without the possibility of connecting Palestinian traffic between their various villages, towns, and districts on the existing roads.
In fact, this map prevents the existence of an independent, viable Palestinian state. On the one hand, the map almost completely reduces the number of Palestinians in Israeli territory and Israelis in Palestinian territory, but it divides the Palestinian territory and requires Palestinians to pass through Israeli territory or use connecting roads. The map presents a short-term plan that prevents the existence of a sovereign, viable Palestinian state and reduces Israel's national security interests in favor of strengthening the settlements and perpetuating Palestinian dependence on Israel in terms of freedom of movement.
What happened to explain how Netanyahu’s enthusiastic acceptance of the Trump plan in January led to the creation of an Israeli map that abides by very different principles? There are two important considerations. First, it is safe to assume that the Israeli team prepared for negotiations with the American side and that this map was a maximalist starting point that would allow for restructuring during negotiations. Second, while the prime minister is loyal to the American concept, the political developments and the fierce opposition of his base may have led to the creation of the Israeli map. Settler leaders, particularly those representing areas beyond the security barrier, were opposed to annexation because it would allow the existence of a Palestinian state in the future.
The possibility that Israel will pursue annexation over extensive territory seems less likely in light of the controversy over the maps and the focus on the COVID-19 crisis. That being said, the new Israeli map helps explain the issues that stalled the debate and reveals the gulf between the Israeli and American positions, despite the outward agreement on the Plan.
At the last minute: The news of a normalization deal and a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel and the freezing of Israel's annexation program encourage peace-seekers. Through an exit of honor, the US administration managed to maintain the "Deal of the Century" as a Two-Nation Stats solution and allow the Israeli prime minister to freeze the annexation plan.