President Trump announced last week the latest of a series of proposals to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If it fails, President Trump will join a long list of failed peace negotiators. This comes as we approach the centennials of the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, which established Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
Trump’s plan is overly optimistic. He is neither Rabin, Sadat, Roosevelt, Carter or Olmert, whose land for peace plan backfired with Hamas using Gaza to launch attacks on Israel. It ignores the history of violence in Hebron and Safed against the old Yishuv and the modern state. However, considering the blood shed in those two towns would reopen old wounds and ignite irredentist sentiments that have killed prior peace deals, perhaps ignoring history is prudent and will enable this plan to succeed. In spite of this attempt to minimize irredentism, the plan recognizes that previous attempts to trade land for peace have ended in disaster and has made the statehood of Palestine conditional on demilitarization, disavowal of BDS and collaboration with their neighbors.
Furthermore, this plan corrects several issues in the previous plans. Firstly, it acknowledges that both sides have legitimate historical claims to the land and requires recognition of both Israel and Palestine. For example, this plan recognizes the 1949 exile of Mizrachi Jews from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen that accompanied the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948. This plan argues for a dissolution of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. It will be replaced with integration of the Palestinian diaspora into their host countries, as Israel has done with Russian refuseniks and the Mizrachi of 1949 and the evacuation of Yemen.
To reaffirm the Israeli connection to land, it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. To justify this proper decision, Trump cites Passover siddurim and Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Furthermore, to deny the government of a country is housed in its capital is outrageous. The Knesset has met in west Jerusalem since the end of the war of independence. Would any other nation allow foreign nations to name their economic center rather than political center as the capital? Finally, Trump cites the benevolence of mutual worship permitted by the Israeli government in justifying this position.
To demonstrate the mutual legitimate claims, this plan grants the Palestinian state a capital in the Jerusalem suburbs. It also grants them access to tourist revenue in the city of Gold, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
Furthermore, it allows for the development of Palestine through a 50 billion investment in the Palestinian authority. It acknowledges that population transfer would impose undue hardships and proposes infrastructure to connect the enclaves. These economic investments and E.U. style connections would strengthen the peace as the E.U. did in Europe. However a Palestinian-Israeli combined force would be better than the proposed hegemony of the Israeli Defense Forces over the entire airspace, especially as the ties of service together in the armed forces would solidify the peace beyond purely economic incentives.
Despite preserving Israeli sovereignty and establishing a state for both people with a Marshal-style economic plan, this plan has several flaws. Firstly, while it explicitly calls out Palestinian actions, it only implicitly condemns Israel for the isolated cases of Israelis engaging in similar behavior.
The actors in the deal have been here before many times without achieving a peace agreement. Abbas rejects this deal out of hand, partially out of opposition to Trump, a desire for Jerusalem and a desire for a contiguous state. This is despite this plan offering statehood, economic aid, assistance for the Palestinian diaspora and access to Jerusalem. Why let hope for the perfect deal prevent peace?
Abbas feels he can wait out this proposal to obtain a better proposal if he rejects this one. He obtains such confidence from statements by Democratic presidential candidacies and Trump’s cancellation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran Deal . When Trump and Congressional Republicans hinted that such a deal would not be binding to a future United States government, they instigated an erosion of American soft power as belligerent actors feel that they can merely wait for more sympathetic administrations to acquire better deals.
Such hope is unfounded as all relevant Israeli parties in the upcoming election support the peace plan. While Yisrael Beitanu leader Avigdor Lieberman criticizes the timing of the release, the plan follows his 2004 proposal and the platform of his party. A refusal of an imperfect deal by Abbas may lead hardliners in the Netanyahu government to claim that Arabs desire the destruction of Israel, not statehood and peace. Those hardliners would then call for further annexation and restrictions in the West Bank and make life worse for Palestinians in the region. Furthermore, this plan would nominally aid the Palestinian diaspora, which would not occur without this plan. This plan aids the diaspora, establishes statehood and economic assistance and recognizes the Palestinian cause without endangering Israelis.
I doubt another Likkud government will offer as generous a plan between irredentists in the party, the last decade of constant bombardment from Gaza and the century of rejectionism. As with the JCPOA, the Oslo treaty of 1999, the 2002 Arab plan for Israeli-Palestinian and the Uganda plan of the Sixth Zionist Congress killed by the Russian delegation, this is an imperfect plan respecting the human rights of those involved is better than continual rejectionism.
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Jacob Ningen is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.