‘I don’t think it will go anywhere,” Middle East Forum director Gregg Roman said bluntly.
The public speaker and activist was referring to US President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated peace plan, where Trump has vowed to try to clinch the “ultimate deal.”
While Jared Kushner and Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, were in the region last week to test the waters regarding how the Palestinians would react to such a plan, Roman and other experts believe it is a blueprint that is doomed to fail.
“I wish the president the best in his peace push, but I think it’s a non-starter, considering the miserable leadership the Palestinians have on their side – whether it be the plutocratic and corrupt Fatah or the genocidal Islamist Hamas,” he said.
What Roman would like to see is the president adopting the Middle East Forum’s approach to peace. Its Israel Victory Project, an initiative launched by the think tank last year, encourages a change in approach when discussing the conflict. The program advocates for Israel to acknowledge that it has won every single showdown with the Palestinians and act accordingly.
“The premise is that it is too late to talk about final status issues. You have to win the war and the Palestinians have to recognize their defeat prior to any negotiations, and we’re not there yet. They’ve been fighting the same war for 100 years and they’ve lost every time,” Roman said.
“We know Trump wants to achieve the deal of the century and make history, but if it doesn’t work out and the Palestinians continue with their tactics of embarrassing his administration and embarrassing their own people, leading them on a road to nowhere,” then adopting IVP seems like the next natural step.
“Our idea has support in Congress and the Israeli government across party lines.
Maybe when Trump sees that the peace process is not working out so well, he’ll consider buying into this idea.”
In the past year alone, the organization has managed to shore up bi-partisan support for the initiative in the US House of Representatives, with 32 members and multi-party support, and in the Knesset, with 26 members. Roman attributes much of this newfound support to the changing climate both in Washington and Jerusalem that favors Trump’s unsympathetic approach to Palestinian leadership.
“In another time, in the Clinton, Bush or Obama years, we would not have had such an opportune moment to promote such an idea. But now, it seems as though the Israelis are priming themselves to prepare their society and the US is preparing its policy options in the wake of the Palestinian refusal to recognize or negotiate with Israel,” he said.
“I think this is the first administration that has voiced an effort to support its ally, Israel, regardless of the impact it will have on the Palestinians,” he observed, pointing to huge diplomatic moves like relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem, suspension of US aid to the PA, cutting UNRWA funding and withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council as ways in which the paradigm has begun to shift.
“It’s not business as usual,” Roman said.
The premise of the Israel Victory Project and its mission will be discussed at two events next week. At the Knesset on Tuesday, a special discussion will be held with Israel Victory Caucus chairs MK Avraham Neguise, MK Oded Forer and MK Elazar Stern where they will discuss “25 Years Since Oslo: Time for New Thinking.”
On Wednesday evening, a similar discussion will be held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. It will be open to the public. Prof. Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, and MK Gideon Sa’ar will lead the panel, featuring Neguise, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and former Labor MK Einat Wilf.
“Once the Palestinians move from rejectionism to recognition, we can help the Israeli public recognize that the Oslo peace rubric is not one that is working,” he said. “It’s not Israel’s goal to have the Palestinians suffer; it’s Israel’s goal to try to morph Palestinian society from being based on hating their Jewish neighbors – to help them develop a political reality that is not based on resistance.”
As for the Begin Center lecture, Roman hopes that those in the audience will see how much ground the IVP has covered in such a short time.
“I hope they understand that we took an idea that was a kernel of a notion last year that has now developed into a fullfledged movement with events that draw thousands of attendees both here and in the United States,” he said.
“There is a change in the way Israel is thinking about the issue – there is some polling that we will share. There are research proposals already presented to the government. There really is a little bit of victory for everyone.”
To register for the Begin Center event: IVP@meforum.org or 052-862-7034.
This article was written in cooperation with the Middle East Forum.