Everyone knew that the Trump Administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan would be rejected out of hand by both wings of a very divided Palestinian leadership and would not lead to a peace agreement in the short term. However, it is nonetheless very welcome for at least two reasons.
Firstly, it constitutes a rethink of the stale, entrenched conventional wisdom on proposed parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, which have increasingly become out of date and unworkable – such as the view that it must be based on the pre-1967 armistice lines, unthinkable after Hamas’ takeover of Gaza and the risk that such a terror state could also emerge on the West Bank, so close to the heart of Israel.
By contrast, while not perfect, and requiring difficult concessions from both parties, the Trump plan offers a pragmatic realism in meeting Israel’s security needs while addressing key Palestinian aims, such as still providing the possibility of a Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem – along with the $50 billion economic plan to kickstart the Palestinian economy.
Secondly, the proposal sends a firm signal to the Palestinian leadership that time is not on their side, and their policy and long record of intransigence, rejection of compromise and, increasingly, a refusal to even negotiate, will have real, enduring costs in terms of long-term Palestinian interests.
Both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Benny Gantz have appropriately welcomed this proposal, and, encouragingly, there are promising signs within the Arab Sunni world that some key states may be at the very least prepared to give the plan a chance.
For these reasons and more, despite the real obstacles ahead, the plan constitutes a positive step towards exploring and encouraging what is needed – the eventual resumption of direct negotiations between the parties in the pursuit of genuine peace.
Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM
Executive Director, AIJAC