N ormally, when one country defeats another in war, the victor dictates the terms of surrender.

Not in Israel’s case.

Over seven decades of warfare and four major conflicts, once the battle ends, Israel has always found itself on the defensive, fending off dozens of initiatives for it to make painful concessions to the parties it vanquished.

Now that the Trump administration seems intent on pursuing a peace plan like the two-state solution, a group calling itself the “Israel Victory Caucus” has formed with one goal in mind: to state Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East forthrightly and unapologetically and to compel the Palestinian Authority (and perhaps the Arab states) to acknowledge that reality in any future peace deal.

In collaboration with the Middle East Forum (MEF), a think tank founded in 1990 to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, the caucus will be co-chaired by two congressmen, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH).

“The Palestinians have never been faced with the prospect of unconditional surrender,” said MEF director Gregg Roman, director at the Middle East Forum, in an interview with Mishpacha. Noting the Palestinians are totally dependent on foreign aid for their survival, Roman said the PA should face a fateful choice, to continue to reject Israel and live in dire financial straits, or accept Israel under conditions of limited autonomy with a chance of working toward a two-state solution one day. “This isn’t about use of force,” Roman said.” The only way it can happen is if they will accept Israel. So this is an ultimatum that needs to be offered to the Palestinian leadership.”

For the most part, the launch, which took place at the Rayburn House Office Building, was clearly pro-Israel, with cream cheese and bagels serving as the main fare. But that didn’t stop some Palestinian supporters from crashing the party. Two women from the pro-Palestinian group Code Pink entered the room, shouting anti-Israel slogans. One of the organizers immediately understood what was happening and called out: “you are not welcome here, and we would like you to leave.”

They did, but not before one woman unfurled a flag with the slogan “Free Palestine” and shouting: “Palestinians deserve equal rights.”

Given the frequency of incidents like this all over the world, it’s clear that the caucus won’t compel the Palestinians to roll over and play dead, but Rep. Johnson told Mishpacha he was not discouraged.

“Step number one is to try it, because nothing else has worked,” Johnson said. “Acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and then start a conversation from there. This is the incentive.”

Asked if he was concerned about reports that President Trump would actively pursue the two-state solution on his upcoming visit to Israel, Rep. Johnson said: “I haven’t heard the president say that. I don’t support the two-state solution because I know what I heard directly from the mouths of the Palestinian Authority. For them, two states are not the end, it’s the means to an end. So I will oppose that under the Trump administration as I opposed it under Obama administration.”

A parallel caucus in set to launch in the Knesset in July. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 658)