President Donald Trump’s peace plan is clearly tilted in favor of Israel, but offers rewards to both sides. In a parallel universe, it could have been the basis for a promising Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. But in the real world, almost no one is interested in implementing the plan, or in peace.
For Israel, the benefits of the plan are obvious. It gets to keep virtually all its settlements and the whole of Jerusalem, while minimizing Palestinian land claims. However, the initiative also calls on Israel to accept the creation of Palestine in most of the West Bank.
Israel’s ideological Right has no desire to embrace the full plan, or to embark on peace talks. It only wants to capitalize on the profits, while forgetting all the rest. And so, prominent rightists are calling for immediate annexation of settlements while rejecting any notion of a Palestinian state.
Israel’s Left is upset that its own vision for a peace deal has become obsolete. Rather than encouraging dialogue, leftist politicians are busy slamming the plan and explaining why it would never work. The far Left, and at least one Arab Knesset member, say that the proposal promotes apartheid.
The Palestinian Angle
Meanwhile, the Deal of the Century is less generous to the Palestinians than past plans. However, the Palestinian side is clinging to hypothetical notions while possessing few actual assets. Previous offers to hand over most of the West Bank or divide Jerusalem were always contingent on terms that the Palestinians never accepted.
As such, President Trump’s parameters offer the Palestinians some tangible goods. The most prominent is a Palestinian state in some 70% of the West Bank, including a map that outlines future borders. This will come with a billion-dollar aid package and massive job creation schemes.
In essence, the Palestinians have the opportunity to build one of the region’s wealthiest countries. Moreover, this future state could be largely immune from the troubles of the Middle East by virtue of resting under Israel’s protective wing.
Alas, there is no chance that President Abbas or any other Palestinian leader will accept the plan’s terms. For the Palestinians, this is a matter of honor and of adhering to their core principles as much as it is about any practical concerns.
New Middle East
Then there are the Gulf states, which will likely press the Palestinians while limiting their criticism of Israel. This stems from changing geopolitical realities and the decline of the Palestinian issue in the Arab world.
By now, most Arab states are more interested in cooperating with Israel than in resolving the Palestinian problem. The one exception is Jordan, which fears that any unrest in the Palestinian theater could threaten its own stability.
Overall, President Trump’s proposal is largely a theoretical concept with few practical implications as far as peace is concerned. However, the plan reflects the emergence of a new Middle East that is different than the vision offered by past peacemakers. The coming weeks and months will be interesting, and very possibly turbulent.