”Donald Trump’s “peace plan” isn’t a plan for advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. It’s a plan for scuttling them.
The president released the long-awaited political framework of his “Peace to Prosperity” plan on Tuesday afternoon after a White House ceremony featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security — allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It’s a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.
“Trump can try to make this a Palestinian state by calling it a state. But it ain’t ever gonna whistle,” writes Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy.
Needless to say, the Palestinians cannot and will not agree to such humiliation, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already ruled it out.
“No, no, and no,” he has said. “Jerusalem is not for sale. All of our rights are not for sale or bartering.”
In fact, the Trump administration didn’t even have a role in writing the plan: It was put together primarily by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, in consultation with the Israeli government. The notion that this is a good-faith effort to make peace is laughable.
So if the “peace plan” isn’t a peace plan, then what is it?
First, it’s an effort to help Netanyahu, a staunch Trump ally, in advance of tightly contested March elections in Israel. The release of a plan so tilted to Israeli priorities helps the right-wing prime minister sell himself as the man best positioned to handle the vital US-Israel relationship. And it doesn’t seem like an accident that the plan was released on the same day that Israel’s attorney general formally indicted Netanyahu on bribery and corruption charges.
Second, and more insidiously, it is a plan to legitimize Israel’s ongoing effort to seize additional Palestinian land.
The United States, as Israel’s most important ally and the historic mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, helps define the parameters of what counts as an acceptable outcome.
As soon as the Palestinians have rejected the plan — and it took only minutes for them to do so — the Israelis can say, “Well, we tried, but they wouldn’t deal.” And they can proceed with settlement expansion and land grabs, moving Israel toward “not peace, but apartheid,” as B’Tselem, a leading Israeli human rights group, put it in a press release on the proposal.
The Trump vision is, in short, a truly Orwellian creation: a “peace plan” that actually is a plan to destroy the prospects for peace.’