What It Will Take for Israel's Right to Support the Trump Peace Plan | Opinion

President Donald Trump's proposed plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians contains elements that we find difficult to swallow, but overall it is an objectively wise and fair model for proceeding in our relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA). It offers Israel the immediate opportunity to end the unacceptable situation where our communities are held hostage to Palestinian intransigence, and it puts an end to the racist view that peace must be built upon the ethnic cleansing of Jews. It offers the Palestinians a unique opportunity for prosperity under terms acceptable to most Israelis.

But as with any deal, the devil is in the details—and their enforcement. The Oslo Accords taught us this lesson the hard way. It had many fine commitments that the Palestinians were required to keep—such as ensuring free access at Jewish holy sites, ending support for violence and not attempting to determine final status outside of direct negotiations. Today, those holy sites are effectively off limits for Jews, the PA has gotten itself declared as a state in international bodies (where it pursues prosecutions of Israelis) and, of course, the PA continues to pay for the murder of Jews.

Yet none of this has had any international consequences for the Palestinians—or reduced demands on Israel. The Palestinians are allowed to claim the benefits of Oslo (and more) without actually upholding it. This cannot happen again. So for the Trump administration's peace vision to have our support, three absolute conditions must be met—especially given that Israel's commitments are not for six months, but for four years.

First, the U.S. must make absolutely clear which actions or inactions constitute a breach of the Palestinians' obligations under the vision—and the consequences of these breaches. It must have a clear, unified statement of what violates the Palestinian obligations during the negotiation phase and what constitutes a Palestinian failure to meet the criteria for U.S. recognition. Importantly, it must clearly lay out the consequences of such failures. It cannot be that the Palestinians fail to meet their negotiation-stage obligations but a future U.S. administration insists Israel overlook or excuse such breaches.

The obligations for Israel are quite clear. For example, Israel commits to go far beyond what was required in Oslo and not build at all in 50 percent of what Oslo dubbed "Area C." But even though Area C is already under Israeli jurisdiction, the plan does not make clear that the Palestinians cannot build there and that any such Palestinian building would negate Israel's parallel obligations. This is crucial because the PA has for years been waging an open campaign to take over this territory with illegal building.

The Trump vision also requires that during negotiations, the Palestinians end all proceedings against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC). But at the Palestinians' instigation, the ICC may already be rapidly moving towards opening up an investigation of Israelis. At that point, the PA will claim that it is beyond their power to stop. The U.S. must make clear that it would be bad faith for the Palestinians to allow an ICC investigation to move forward, only to then insist on direct negotiations.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Second, the U.S. must be prepared to issue an explicit memorandum of understanding assuring Israel that its being bound by the memorandum's obligations depends upon the Palestinians keeping their own obligations. And it must commit to not recognizing a Palestinian state—and to preventing others from recognizing such a state—before all of the conditions outlined in the plan are satisfied to both American and Israeli satisfaction.

Finally, we recall how Oslo turned many Jewish communities into non-viable islands that effectively came under Palestinian siege. We are grateful for the Trump administration's commitment to the basic principle of decency that Jews will not be required to leave their homes in any peace deal. But the map that will soon be issued, outlining U.S. recognition of Israel's extension of civil law, must anchor this principle in reality. We will, under no circumstances, agree to a map that creates untenable islands; all Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, whether or not they are arbitrarily deemed to be in "enclaves," must include sufficient land reserves to remain viable. And Israel must retain full control of all roads connecting these towns to major transportation arteries.

Israel has never had a friend like Donald Trump. But it cannot guarantee that of his successors. His bold peace vision creates new possibilities that we believe should be pursued—but not at any price.

Naftali Bennett is Israel's minister of defense.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.​​​​​