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Op-Ed: An Open Letter To Donald Trump Regarding Israel

December 30, 2016

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President-Elect Trump,

Like many of us, I am sure you watched or are well aware of Secretary of State Kerry’s speech today. From your recent tweets on the Obama Administration’s approach to Israel I assume, like me, you are probably not impressed.

For an administration that has practiced a policy of leading from behind, they are sure trying to get out in front on this. For an administration that prides itself on being pragmatic – “one who overcomes ideology, transcends partisanship, and focuses on the practical and doable” – they seem to be proposing an impractical and undoable solution for Israel vis-à-vis their backing of two-state solution. We will set aside for the time being the fact that the general situation is not new and that the “most extreme right-wing government in Israeli history” Secretary Kerry spoke of has been in place since Prime Minister Netanyahu formed the current coalition in May 2015 after his March 2015 victory or if we are getting technical then we could say since the addition of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu in June of this year.


Regardless, what Secretary Kerry presented to the world today was yet another serving of the false binary that the current situation will be resolved peacefully by the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, or it will continue in conflict if no additional state comprising a majority Arab population is created.

Those are the options. Now pick one.

But, other viable solutions exist.

In the immediate response to the overwhelming victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel was faced with a number of questions about what to do with the territory and the people it found itself in control of. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was in charge of administration in the territories and as such, he made the decisions to allow the waqf continued administrative authority on the Temple Mount and to institute the Open Bridges Policy between the banks of the Jordan River. Additionally, Dayan proposed a solution to administering the new territories: “functional compromise.”

Dayan’s functional compromise, as stated by Joseph Nevo on page 112 in his 2006 book, King Hussein and the Evolution of Jordan’s Perception of a Political Settlement with Israel, 1967-1988, would “separate sovereignty over the land of the West Bank from the sovereignty over its population. Such a division would leave the territories in Israeli hands while its population enjoyed Jordanian citizenship, and voted for Parliament in Amman.” This option is largely off the table now since The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan relinquished its claim to Judea and Samaria in 1988. While the Jordanian aspect of the proposal is not currently workable it does provide an alternative starting point for considering other options outside of the traditional one we are told are the only ones.

Another proposal is Dr. Mordechai Kedar’s “Eight State Solution.” While other Arab states fail, namely Iraq and Syria, because of their Sykes-Picot borders, Dr. Kedar acknowledges and works within Arab social norms by basing the solution on the tribal inclination of Arab society to create seven city-states confederated into an emirate. This would allow Arab self-governance and ensure Israeli security as the strength would rest with the city states and not the confederated emirate.

Another option is what Caroline Glick advocates in her 2014 book The Israel Solution. I cannot do Mrs. Glick justice in a mere paragraph, so I won’t attempt to. A good summary can be found here. What I can say is she addresses misconceptions, uses empirical data, and presents a compelling case for doing what so many, including Secretary Kerry earlier today, say is impossible: one democratic Jewish state which includes Judea and Samaria.


I am sure you have people more intelligent and with far better resumes than I advising you. I hope you, or one of them, come across this, and if you determine it is our place to try to implement a solution you consider breaking the false-binary we are often presented with when considering Israel centered Middle East peace proposals.

Kenneth Depew is a retired Army NCO and served as an Infantryman and Human Intelligence Collector. He is an alumnus of Tel Aviv University (MA Security and Diplomacy ’16) and the University of St. Thomas (BA Political Science ’13). He served on Senator Cruz’s 2012 campaign staff and senate staff.