This news shows how strange International Relations has become. Donald Trump, currently on trial in the Senate for withholding approved funds from the Ukraine in an attempt to get the Ukranian authorities to dig up dirt on his possible opponent Joe Biden, and Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, have announced the bigliest most bestest peace plan for the Middle East ever.
It is that great they did not even talk to the Palestinian leadership before releasing it. Obviously they thought its sheer quality will make it irresistible to the Palestinian people.
So what does the plan propose? The Guardian has some of the details:
In a series of sometimes contradictory statements, Trump said the plan would:
Establish Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital, but with a potential Palestinian capital in eastern sections of the city.
Recognise Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory as part of the country.
Offer the future possibility for a Palestinian statehood that would “more that double Palestinian territory”, without specifying what territory he was referring to.
Lead to “1m” new jobs for Palestinians and triple its GDP.
In his comments, Netanyahu went further, saying Trump’s plan recognised Israeli sovereignty over other large areas of Palestinian territory and would seek to fully disarm the militant group Hamas.
“It’s a great plan for Israel, it’s a great plan for peace,” he said. Critically, Netanyahu said the “status quo” of Israeli control over the Palestinian territories would remain in place until a deal was reach, which he anticipated would take years.
He added to Trump: “You have been the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.”
The plan comes with this map. A cursory look at it shows significant addition of land adjacent to the Egyptian border to Palestinian land.
But the area is all desert.
The conditions are all important. The partition of Jerusalem has always been a deal breaker. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem was the biggest middle finger to the Palestinians that Trump could have given. And allowing Israel to continue to control Jerusalem will mean that Palestine will never agree with what is being proposed.
The map is also disingenuous. Recognising illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land makes the map more or less useless. There are a number of Israeli enclave communities in the West Bank area which will remain.
The new jobs and triple the GDP rhetoric is typical of Trump. He probably thinks it can be achieved by giving a tax break.
We have had the rhetoric of a two state solution for a while. But the situation that was not acceptable in 2000 has worsened. Expecting Palestine to agree to continuous illegal land occupation over the past two decades that have since passed will not work.
Palestinian commentators have rubbished the proposal. From the Guardian:
Khaled Elgindy, a former peace negotiator and adviser to the Palestinian leadership in the 2000s, said the intent was not to end conflict but to legitimise Israel’s occupation.
“It’s a plan that has nothing to do with peace. It’s not about two states,” he said. “It’s about completely changing the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to move away from ending the occupation, to move away from two sovereign states. It’s consecrating the status quo. It’s really about normalising Israeli occupation on a permanent basis.”
Elgindy compared the Palestinian state envisaged in the plan to the nominally independent black homelands of apartheid South Africa, known as bantustans, but said it has been years in the making.
“It’s too easy to say Trump killed the peace process and the two-state solution. It was pretty much dead when he got here. He’s just now trying to bury it,” he said.
And the Palestinian Prime Minister has similarly rubbished the proposal:
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh on Monday urged international powers to boycott US President Donald Trump´s “peace plan” which they see as biased towards Israel.
“This a plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu from prison. It is not a Middle East peace plan,” Shtayyeh told a cabinet meeting. “This plan gives Israel sovereignty over Palestinian territory,” he said.