Every Picture Tells a Story: Have Israel and the US Advanced Peace?

After 26 years of seeking a normal place in the Middle East, Israel struck two normalization agreements in a single day with the help of the United States. The Wall Street Journal broadcast the news while The New York Times hid it in the shadows.

Cover page of The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2020

Featured prominently on the WSJ cover page in a large color photo were leaders of three foreign countries surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump standing on the balcony of the White House. With smiles and waves, the four gentlemen conveyed the new warm feelings they had for each other, with the imprint of the presidential seal.

The caption was just as positive: “SEALED: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani and the United Arab Emirate’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan wave from the White House balcony after the signing ceremony Tuesday. The pact is seen as the foundation for a broader alignment against Iran in the region.” The top of the picture had a bold header “Israel, Two Gulf States Sign Peace Deal at White House”

A moment for celebration with each other and the whole world.

The New York Times had a very different view of the two pacts.

Cover of the New York Times, September 16, 2020

The Times also gave the story a large photo – but it was impossible to make out any of the individuals or even if the photo was in color, as it showed the backs of the four men in a dark room.

In contrast to the WSJ picture of people standing together, the Times showed a disjointed group. The Journal showed global leaders happily standing before the world while the Times made it appear that the four men were reluctantly engaged in a farce.

The caption of the NYT picture was a short single line: “President Trump hosted the Prime Minister of Israel and the foreign ministers of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.” None of the foreign leaders had their names mentioned – perhaps not a surprise as their faces were not shown either. The caption did not even mention that Trump hosted these world leaders TO SIGN A NORMALIZATION AGREEMENT, the first Israel signed with an Arab country in 26 years!

The New York Times could not give the historic agreements – nor the leaders it despises in Trump and Netanyahu – the limelight. It belittled the milestone and the men.

But in reality, the pictures laid bare the disgraceful anti-Trump, anti-Israel and anti-peace bias of The New York Times.


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The Best Palestinian Response to the Trump Initiative is Welcoming Jews to Palestine

US President Donald Trump put forward a new Middle East Framework called “Peace to Prosperity” (P2P). It was the first Middle East framework offered since the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 (API). The API was, not surprisingly, heavily biased towards the Palestinian Arabs’ demands and not Israeli security. It did not advance peace but rather ushered wars from Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, a war from Lebanon in 2006 and a “stabbing intifada” from the West Bank in 2015.

Unlike the API, Trump’s P2P plan was focused on Israel’s security (and Palestinians’ prosperity), and the Palestinian Authority considered it a non-starter before they even saw it. The acting-President of the PA Mahmoud Abbas has refused to even entertain discussing it.

That is a mistake.

The underlying issue of Israel’s security manifests itself in the plan in a few ways, most notably, that all Palestinian border crossings must be managed by Israel and that a future State of Palestine must be demilitarized. If the PA were to refuse to accept those two principles, there is indeed nothing to discuss regarding any of the other key items for Palestinians such as land, refugees and Jerusalem.

However, if Abbas accedes to those two Israeli security points, he will likely be able to gain much on the other issues that matter to him and to the Palestinians.

Consider the land.

The P2P plan has Israel assuming sections of the West Bank including the entirety of the Jordan Valley. It leaves the Palestinian territory as a patchwork of parcels, with the towns in which Jews reside being annexed by Israel dotted, in between.

However, the Palestinians might be able to obtain almost the entirety of the West Bank if it grants Palestinian citizenship to all of the inhabitants of the Jewish towns. This action would be much like the Jewish State’s in 1948 when it granted Israeli citizenship to all of the Arabs. The Jews would make up a much smaller percentage of Palestine than Arabs’ in Israel today.

As the border would be controlled by Israel, only a sliver of land between Palestine and Jordan would be required to be Israeli instead of the whole Jordan Valley, much like the plan assumes Israel having a thin sliver of land buffering Palestinian territory in the Negev and Egypt. The net result would be the Palestinians gaining almost the entirety of the West Bank other than a sliver along the Jordan River.

The willingness to accept Jewish citizens into Palestine might also open a window for Israel to accept many Arab refugees into Israel, rather than just giving them compensation as mapped under the P2P plan. A new Arab spirit of coexistence might stimulate Israel to take as many as 50,000 Arab refugees per year for a number of years, with the balance receiving compensation and settling in a new Palestinian State.

The capital of a Palestinian State could also become more dynamic, with Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem becoming parts of a Palestinian capital.

In short, Palestinians can gain a lot on all of their key negotiating points by working off of the Trump peace initiative if they endorse coexistence and welcome Jews into a new state. In contrast, the current path of continued demonization of Israel and the denial of Jewish history and rights will only further cement the stagnation for Palestinians in regards to both peace and prosperity.

Palestinians should call the Israeli bluff, and see if hundreds of thousands of Jews are willing to live as a minority in Palestine. If the Israelis balk, then the BDS movement will likely advance globally. However, if the Israelis endorse the principle, Israel will be blocked from annexing any land (pro-Arab), while United Nations Resolution 2334 will be deemed moot and the global BDS movement will come to an end (pro-Israel).


Related First One Through articles:

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Taking it Straight to the People: Obama and Kushner

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Is Trump Seeing Mid-East Countries to Combat Religious Extremism, or Visiting Religious Sites to Promote Coexistence?

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Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

Palestineism is Toxic Racism

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

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Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

The current leader of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a well-polished man named King Abdullah II, who has reigned since the passing of his father in 1999. In recent years, he has aggressively sought to claim “special” rights in the holy sites of Jerusalem, well beyond his reach.

King Abdullah II of Jordan

In May 2017, King Abdullah II addressed the United States President Donald Trump and said:

“the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian Holy Sites is an unbreakable, historical responsibility and an honour to undertake on behalf of the Arab and Muslim nations.”

There were several problems with his claim:

  • Jordan has no custodianship over Christian sites
  • Jordan does not have exclusive custodianship
  • Jordan’s actions underscore that it is not “responsible” as it’s words are very “breakable”
  • Jordan’s basis for custodianship relates to its funds and efforts regarding improvements to the site, which Israel has in abundance regarding the Old City of Jerusalem, (which Jordan opts to ignore)
  • Jordan negotiated those custodian rights with Israel, yet has undermined Israel’s authority in Jerusalem

Here are some details.

Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem

In July 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement. Within that treaty was language that related to Jordan’s role at Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem (Article 9.2):

“In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”

There was no mention of any Christian sites.

Jordan’s Non-Exclusive Role

The Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty gave Jordan special rights for: 1) Muslim holy sites for 2) Arab and Muslim Nations. However, the treaty gave Jordan nothing as it related to 1) Jewish holy sites, for 2) the rest of the non-Arab and non-Muslim world.

While the al Aqsa Mosque that sits at the southern tip of the Temple Mount is an exclusively Islamic site, the rest of the Temple Mount – including the location of the Dome of the Rock – are Jewish holy sites. Jordan has no special rights over such Jewish holy sites and nor any authority over non-Arab and non-Muslim visitors.

Jordan’s Abrogation of Key Components of the Israel Peace Treaty

Jordan has violated the underlying spirit of the peace treaty with Israel in various manners. In August 2017 the Jordanian Foreign Minister and the Waqf were critical of the 1,000 Jews that went onto the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av saying “This is unprecedented, unacceptable and should stop.” But they have no rights to prohibit any Jew from ascending to the Temple Mount. Article 9.1 of the treaty underscored the point:

“Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.”

Additionally, King Abdullah’s July 2017 statement that Israel was trying to “Judaize” Judaism’s holiest space was an abrogation of Article 9.3 of the peace treaty which stated:

“The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Jordan’s statements and actions were in direct violation of every sentiment of the peace treaty executed by his father and the Jewish State, as he sought to undermine Jewish history and rights on the Temple Mount.

The Deceit of the Jordanians and Palestinians

On March 31, 2013, King Abdullah II signed a treaty with the acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas about Jordan’s role regarding the holy sites in Jerusalem. In that treaty, the parties asserted that the entirety of the Temple Mount was exclusively an Islamic site, and had no ties to other religions:

“Recalling the unique religious importance, to all Muslims, of Al Masjid Al Aqsa with its 144 dunums [the land size of the Temple Mount], which include the Qibli Mosque of Al Aqsa, the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock and all its mosques, buildings, walls, courtyards, attached areas over and beneath the ground and the Waqf properties tied-up to Al Masjid Al Aqsa, to its environs or to its pilgrims (hereinafter referred to as “Al Haram Al Sharif”);”

How do either the Jordanians or Palestinians believe that they are promoting “religious understanding, … tolerance and peace,” when they publicly step on Jewish history and faith?

It is also interesting to note that the Jordanian agreement with the PA also never discussed any Jordanian role with Christian holy sites.

“Historical responsibility” of Jordan and Israel

To this day, Jordan continues to state that the very presence of Israel in Jerusalem is a threat to Arabs and Muslim holy sites, and refuses to acknowledge that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount have been anchored in Jewish history for over 3000 years.

Consider language on King Abdullah’s website called  “Custodianship over Holy Sites.

“The Hashemites have stood up against Zionist claims to Jerusalem, which pose a direct threat to the Arab city and its cultural heritage.”

How does Abdullah make such a statement while also acknowledging Israel’s role in Jerusalem in its peace treaty? Is Jordan’s treaty with Israel only based on Israel’s de facto existence and presence in Jerusalem? If Jordan believes that Israel has no role or place in Jerusalem, why have sections in the peace treaty specifically discussing Jerusalem?

The website goes on to discuss the long history of Jordan in fixing up various parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Muslim holy sites:

“His Majesty’s attention was not limited to Islamic holy sites; he personally helped put out a fire that nearly destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1949. All throughout his reign (1921-1951), King Abdullah I was the guardian and custodian of Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.”

The “investments” made by Jordan in the Old City of Jerusalem, pale in comparison to the investments made by the government of Israel since it reunited the city in June 1967. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in city improvements. By such measure alone, Israel’s rights throughout the city trumps any claim by Jordanians or Palestinians.

Whose “Illegal Occupation”

In July 2017, Jordan was effective in pushing forward a UNESCO decision that condemned Israel’s excavations in the Old City such as the City of David, and recommitted to the claim that Jerusalem’s Old City walls were in “danger.” The Jordanian embassy added that “The resolution stated that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and in particular, the “basic law” on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith…. He also said that the decision, which Jordan presented jointly with Palestine through the Arab group at the committee, emphasised that all Israeli procedures and violations in East Jerusalem are null and void under the international law.”

It is a strange hypocrisy that Jordan claims that Israel’s annexation and role in the Old City of Jerusalem is illegal and not recognized by the international community, when Jordan’s annexation of the eastern half of Jerusalem and the “West Bank” in 1950 was itself not recognized by any country (other than itself, the UK and Pakistan).


The King of Jordan claims that his country has a special role in the Old City of Jerusalem and that he advances peace even though:

  • Jordan’s “special role” does nothing to undermine the rights of Jews at its holiest site
  • Jordan’s investment in Jerusalem pales next to Israel’s investment
  • Jordan’s annexation of the Old City of Jerusalem was less legal than Israel’s annexation of the eastern part of the city in1980

The King of Jordan is eloquent but deceitful. He shrouds himself in words of peace as he stirs up a religious war at Judaism’s holy site.

Abdullah has begged both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for some special status in the Jerusalem’s Old City, and each party has agreed to give him some role as a neutered and neutral party. But as Abdullah stretches the meaning of his role and undermines the essence of the peace treaty, it is time for Israel to reconsider Jordan’s role and reassert the Jewish State’s rights and responsibilities at Judaism’s holiest spot.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Time for King Abdullah of Jordan to Denounce the Mourabitoun

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

The Waqf and the Temple Mount

The UN’s #Alternative Facts about the 1967 Six Day War

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

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