The Deal Of The Century
I just returned from a historic event in the East Room of the White House where President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a new peace plan.
The room was electric, filled with Christian and Jewish leaders, as well as key administration officials who worked on the plan, including Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador David Friedman.
There were also several ambassadors from Arab nations in the audience, a hopeful sign that others in the region are eager to work with Israel and the United States to advance peace in the Middle East.
The president received more than a dozen standing ovations, and Prime Minister Netanyahu received nearly as many as they outlined their vision for lasting peace. This is not a "pie in the sky" deal. Nor does it force Israel to do anything that will hurt its security. Here are some of the key elements of the Trump plan:
- Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel. This is essential from Israel's stand point, and something that Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel and I worked very hard to guarantee.
- The Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
- Hamas must be disarmed, and the Palestinians must reject terrorism.
- The so-called "refugee problem" will be settled outside the boundaries of Israel.
- Israel will suspend construction in disputed territories for four years to give both sides time to implement various aspects of the deal.
- The president pledged $50 billion of investment to provide hope and economic opportunity to the Palestinian people.
Trump spoke directly to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, saying, "If you choose the path of peace, America will be there to help you every step of the way."
Netanyahu praised Trump as "the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House." He hailed the Trump peace plan as "a realistic path to a durable peace," that recognizes Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other strategic areas of Judea and Samaria.
The prime minister vowed, "If the Palestinians are genuinely prepared to make peace with the Jewish state. . . Israel will be prepared to negotiate peace right away."
The Real Problem
Almost every American president and Israeli prime minister has tried and failed to negotiate a lasting peace between Israelis and the Palestinians. The problem is not Israel or the United States.
The real obstacle to peace is the refusal of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and others to recognize the right of Israel to exist at all. Their so-called "leaders" have rejected every peace deal ever offered to them. They have to want peace with Israel.
As I noted above, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed the hope that the Palestinian leadership would not be stupid and reject this deal out of hand. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Abbas has already done just that.
Another major problem is that the Palestinian people are themselves divided between Abbas and his Fatah Party in the West Bank and Hamas, which rules Gaza. It's not at all clear who speaks for the Palestinian people.
The 84 year-old Abbas is now in the 15th year of his four-year term of office and is expected to step down sometime this year. Polls show that Hamas, a terrorist organization funded by Iran and dedicated to Israel's destruction, could easily prevail in a new election.
How do you compromise with an opponent who wants you dead? Nonetheless, Prime Minister Netanyahu has once again joined with President Trump to try to find a way forward.
Dershowitz vs. The Democrats
Yesterday, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz dismantled the Democrats' impeachment arguments. He argued that the two articles of impeachment do not rest on identifiable crimes, much less impeachable offenses. I'll spare you his historical lecture and summarize his main points.
Democrats are attempting to impeach President Trump for "Obstruction of Congress" because he refused to comply with many of their demands during the course of their impeachment investigation.
But what they see as "Obstruction of Congress," others see as "Separation of Powers." If defending the authority of the executive branch is a crime, then the founders were criminals. But the left probably believes that anyway.
When disputes arise over the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches, they go to the courts to decide the issue. But if it's a crime for a president to resist Congress when it overreaches, then every president is going to be impeached.
The president is also being impeached for "Abuse of Power." But that charge is what critics always say about their opponents. Even George Washington, the most admired of our founders, was accused of abusing his power.
Professor Dershowitz went on to cite 20 presidents, from Washington to Obama, who were accused of abuse of power. For example:
- Thomas Jefferson dramatically expanded the size of the country through the Louisiana Purchase without congressional authorization.
- Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War.
- Franklin Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans during World War II due to concerns about national security.
Ultimately, Donald Trump is being impeached because he defeated Hillary Clinton, which the left considers a "high crime." He's also being impeached because he is doing what he said he would do.
He's putting the interests of the country first with trade deals and immigration policies that put American workers first. He's defending the sanctity of life and religious liberty by breaking the left's stranglehold over our courts. Those are Trump's "crimes," which our political elites cannot tolerate.
Sadly, there is a group of Republicans who still think the New York Times is a legitimate news outlet. They should forget about John Bolton's book. As Professor Dershowitz made clear, there is no impeachable crime here regardless of what is or is not in Bolton's book.
By the way, Fred Fleitz, Bolton's former chief of staff, published an excellent opinion piece yesterday calling on Bolton to withdraw his book until after the 2020 election.
Fleitz argues, rightly in my opinion, that high-level officials should not cash-in on their service with "tell-all" books that threaten to expose the private advice and communications between presidents and their advisers. Sadly, that's how the Swamp operates.
At today's White House announcement for the Middle East peace plan, many of John Bolton's old friends were angry and disappointed in his conduct since he left the administration. More than once, I heard the rhetorical question, "What in the world is wrong with Bolton?!"
Speaking Of The Swamp. . .
Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi exposed the potential corruption of Hunter Biden's sweetheart deal with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which she described as "nepotistic at best, nefarious at worst."
She defended President Trump's decision to raise Burisma and the Bidens with Ukraine's president because the media had raised the issue in 2014, because Chris Heinz, Hunter's business partner, raised concerns about it and because Obama State Department officials raised concerns about it.
Bondi's presentation made it clear that the president was looking to address past issues of corruption rather than exploiting his office to influence the next election.