Trump’s “Deal of The Century”: Major Flaws Awaiting A New Government in Israel


By Gilead Sher, Gideon Biger


Once the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided, all of the geopolitical challenges that the Middle East faces will resurface, amplified. Hence, whatever its composition, the new Israeli government will undoubtedly face serious flaws in, among other things, the territorial dimensions of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” — namely, the drawing of borders, the enclaves, the territorial exchanges and the annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

The deal offers a provision that people and communities, Jews and Arabs alike, will not be evacuated from their homes. It entails highly entangled and complex borders, ensuring that most of the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank and another approximately 150 smaller settlements will be territorially connected to Israel. This is a sharp turn from the agreed-upon notion of annexing only a one-digit West Bank percentage to Israel, i.e., the large “settlement blocs” adjacent to the June 1967 lines. Annexation of these blocs that house approximately 75% of the settlers’ community — against Israeli land swaps — was tacitly agreed upon in previous rounds of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and explicitly reflected in the respective visions of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Conversely, Trump’s plan creates a winding and complicated friction area due to the division of the future Palestinian state into six disconnected “cantons,” a series of enclaves connected by routes and vulnerable boundaries.

Trump’s deal will leave out 15 settlements that could not be attached to the main Israeli territory under any boundary line. These enclaves are supposed to remain within the Palestinian state once established. All that would link them to Israel will be roads that pass through the territories of the Palestinian state.

The idea of enclaves, in a permanent agreement only, was raised by us more than six years ago in the article “Jewish Enclaves in a Palestinian State in Permanent Status,” published by the Institute for National Security Studies. At the time, we suggested that large Israeli settlements located deep within the Palestinian Authority territory could be possibly converted into enclaves.

Under the “Deal of the Century,” all the settlements that we proposed for consideration as enclaves will be physically connected to Israel by a winding, problematic, dangerous and very complex borderline. Instead, Trump’s team proposes to create enclaves from relatively small settlements, totaling about 15,000 residents.

Our theoretical enclave proposal for a long-term peace arrangement presented in the 2013 research paper was recapped by the National Security Council in Israel, and subsequently landed on the desk of Trump’s peace team. However, it has become almost unrecognizable.

 

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