Contrary to the promise of a “bigger and better deal,” the proposed Middle East Israeli-Palestinian peace plan by US President Donald Trump appears to be an exercise meant to benefit him and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the electoral battle. The p,an is likely to create problems rather than solve them and is mainly meant to bolster the fortunes of Trump and Netanyahu in the US and Israeli elections, respectively. Taking a sharp departure from decades of the American policy that advocates the creation of a Palestinian state with slight adjustments to the Israeli boundaries that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Trump’s Plan recognizes and legitimizes the Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory, which are regarded as illegal under international law.
The Plan Threatens The Two-State Solution
Trump’s plan is not only a threat to the idea of creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem, but the definition of the two-state solution also has put caveats on the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. As per the proposal, the Palestinian state could come into existence only after they built a government that satisfies both Israel and America. The US proposal also gives Israel the right to annex the Jordan Valley, a critical territory that includes around 30 percent of the West Bank. As expected the Palestinians urged world powers to reject Trump’s peace plan. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in a cabinet meeting said that Trump has released the plan because he is facing an impeachment trial over abuse of office and Netanyahu is battling corruption charges in a neck-and-neck election against Benny Gantz. As Shtayyeh said, “it cannot be termed as a Middle East peace plan.”
Why Did Trump Jettison The US Policy Of Creation Of A Palestinian State?
According to political observers, votebank politics is the reason behind Trump’s decision to jettison the American policy of sovereign Palestinian and Israeli states existing side by side. Eighty percent of the influential white Evangelical Christian Americans voting bloc who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 support the plan and Evangelical Christians were also significant financial backers of the Trump campaign in 2016.
According to the Evangelical Christians, God promised the Holy Land and Jerusalem solely to Jews, and their return to power across the whole territory will pave the way for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Evangelicals within the Trump administration, such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also have been advocating in support of Israel’s aspirations for imperialism as sketched in the new plan.
Why Was The Plan Released Now?
According to political observers, the timing of the plan is motivated more by the domestic politics of Israel and the United States than resolving the conflict. Netanyahu is facing trial on corruption charges and Trump is facing an impeachment trial. Netanyahu’s American supporters hope that the plan will dominate the campaign and energize his Likud base, since polls are showing continuing erosion of his right-wing bloc. Netanyahu will use the plan as his central platform in the general election to be held on March 2. Should Netanyahu win another term, he will fulfill—sooner or later—his lifelong desire to end Palestinian ambitions for statehood.
In any case, if Israel annexes large parts of the West Bank, it will be impossible for the Palestinians to establish a viable state. The two-state solution would finally be completely buried.
Trump hopes the proposal will present a rosy picture of his skills as a statesman, delivering “the deal of the century”. The USA wishes to encourage other Arab states to embrace the plan, and they, in return, would pressurize the Palestinians to accept it.
Regardless of the objective of the plan and the timing, political considerations or indeed ideological and religious motivations, it comes with huge risks. The plan, created under the supervision of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, falls short of the objective to resolve generations of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The proposed resolution strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than giving both sides’ equal concessions.
The fear is that a proposal that dashes the hope of a two-state solution might strengthen hard-liners across the region. Trump may go down in history not for developing a “bigger and better deal” but for burying the two-state solution as a path to peace.