Donald Trump’s Indifference Regarding the Two-State Solution Makes Peace More Likely

Feb. 17 2017

After their meeting yesterday, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a joint press conference, at which the former made clear that the U.S. has no a-priori commitment to the two-state solution. “I like the [solution] that both parties like,” said the president. “I can live with either [one state or two].” Jonathan Tobin comments:

His statement was typically Trumpian in that it displayed either his ignorance or his lack of interest in the details, but it’s clear that the president wasn’t supporting either the one-state or the two-state option. Instead, he was endorsing a diplomatic principle that is just as important: the U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace. . . .

But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas-Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.

In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel—which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.

Read more at National Review

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Two-State Solution, US-Israel relations

Reviving the Peace Process Brings Great Costs and Little Potential for Success

June 26 2017

Now that President Trump has sent envoys to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, it seems clear that he will try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which he has declared to be “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” Even those less sanguine argue that there is little harm in trying. Not so, writes Elliott Abrams:

To begin with, it is always harmful for the United States to fail—and for a president to fail. Influence in the world is hard to measure, but when a president devotes himself . . . to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the United States are diminished. . . .

What’s more, the United States has been championing the “peace process” now for about 30 years. . . . On the Palestinian side many view the “peace process” as a formula for sustaining the occupation. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance and worse: when they demand a stop to official Palestinian glorification of terrorism, they hear, “Don’t rock the boat now, negotiations may start.”

A further reason to be wary of another big peace effort is the opportunity cost. When each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. . . .

During the George W. Bush administration, those of us on the American side often demanded concessions from Israel to “set the tone for talks” or to “get things moving in the talks.” These steps often gave Abbas symbolic victories, but they rarely contributed to state-building. For example, we were more concerned with getting Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners—who may have committed acts of violence—than we were about getting Israel to remove checkpoints or barriers that prevented Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and thereby made both normal life and economic activity harder. How returning convicted criminals to the streets contributed to building a Palestinian state was never explained.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process