OP-ED BY US AMBASSADOR RICHARD GRENELL
When Konrad Adenauer became Chancellor of Germany four years after VE Day, Germans were at their lowest point in history. They lived in desperate poverty. Their country was partitioned and occupied. Their economy and livelihoods were destroyed. Millions of refugees struggled to return to their homes, or took part in population exchanges as post-war borders were redrawn.
As Chancellor, Adenauer did not give Germans hope of reversing the outcome of the war. He did not offer them victimhood or resistance to the Allied forces. Instead, within two months of taking office, Adenauer signed the 1949 Petersberg Agreement, giving up control of the Ruhr and Saar regions to the Allies and acceding to partition.
What Adenauer knew he was getting in return was sovereignty for the new Federal Republic of Germany, and previously unthinkable partnerships with Germany’s former enemies. His ambition was to make the Federal Republic of Germany a stronghold of democracy, stability, and credibility through honest reconciliation with its neighbors. Bolstered by U.S. support in the form of NATO and the Marshall Plan, and deep economic cooperation with its ancient enemy in France, the Federal Republic of Germany went from occupied pariah to coequal member of the international community.
The results speak for themselves. The Germany of today is Konrad Adenauer’s Germany, one of the most prosperous, stable, and admirable democracies in the world.
The same year Adenauer signed the Petersberg Agreement, another war came to an end. Known in Israel as the War of Independence, and among Palestinians as the Nakba, the war had begun one day after the Palestinian leadership and Arab states rejected UN Resolution 181, the first ever two-state solution of the international community. With Israel victorious over the Arab League and Egyptian and Palestinian forces, the 1949 Armistice Agreement solidified the State of Israel.
Seven decades later, the Palestinian people are still waiting for the kind of leadership that will exchange compromise for sovereignty, and reconciliation for prosperity.
Instead of gaining the economic and security benefits of a final peace, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority offer only the hopelessness of eternal struggle. Rather than gain independence and dignity through a negotiated settlement, Palestinian leaders still reject the outcome of every event since 1949. For the last seven decades, the major factions of Palestinian leadership have cynically justified endless conflict by pretending to advance a cause they know to be futile—the reversal of their neighbor’s existence.
The impact of their leadership is clear. While Israel today is stronger than it’s ever been, Palestinians are governed either by a financially starved terrorist organization in Gaza, or by a corrupt government in the West Bank. Neither government effectively addresses the conflict itself or the daily concerns of ordinary people. With cooperation increasing between Israel and its erstwhile Sunni enemies, and international headlines dominated by Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Libya, the cause of Palestinian statehood is likewise a weaker focus of global concern than it once was.
With the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday of a new U.S.-led peace plan, the United States is putting the cause of Palestinian statehood back at the fore of international attention.
At the core of President Trump’s plan is a map for two states with significant territorial expansion for Palestinians, whose authorities will work with the U.S. and Israel to assume more security responsibility over time and phase out Israel’s security footprint. With the choice to return to the new Palestinian state, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country, Palestinians’ refugee status will no longer be perpetuated by the corrupt and secretive United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Under the plan called Vision for Peace, Israel and the future Palestinian state will be connected by modern transportation links to enable the free movement of goods and services. The plan also outlines the development of a Palestinian airport and seaport, including the use and management of facilities at Haifa and Ashdod. Underwriting these connections will be a $50 billion economic package from the United States, designed to help the Palestinian state create over 1 million jobs, double its GDP, reduce unemployment below 10 percent, and reduce the poverty rate below 50 percent.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and opposition leader LTG Benjamin Gantz recently traveled to Washington to endorse the Vision for Peace, the first time an Israeli government and opposition leader have both endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state.
But no amount of support from the U.S., Israel, Europe, or Arab states will be enough without courageous Palestinian leadership. What Palestinians deserve is a leader who will not keep them forever frozen in 1949, but who will grasp the opportunity to reconcile with their neighbor, and make the State of Palestine a prosperous and stable democracy.
*Richard Grenell is the US Ambassador to Germany