On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the Saudis have come to Mahmoud Abbas with a peace plan, and told him he must either accept it or resign. The report was admittedly based on off-the record comments and second-hand information; none of the interested parties has confirmed it publicly. If the information is correct, the plan involves Egypt ceding territory from the Sinai Peninsula to create an expanded and completely Palestinian state in Gaza, to which would be added noncontiguous territory in the West Bank over which the new state would exercise limited sovereignty. The settlements would remain in place and the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis would become the Palestinian capital. Caroline Glick comments:
The fact is that the alleged Saudi peace plan represents a radical break with all of the peace plans presented by the Arabs, the Europeans, and the U.S. over the past 40 years. [It] is the first peace plan that foresees two viable states living in peace. All the other plans were based on transforming Israel into a non-viable state with a non-viable Palestinian state in its heartland.
While the Times report cites Western sources claiming that Egypt has rejected the prospect of merging Gaza with the northern Sinai under Palestinian sovereignty, there is no reason to assume that the option is dead. To the contrary, in the aftermath of last week’s massacre of 305 Muslim worshipers in a mosque in the northern Sinai, it is arguably more relevant now than at any previous time.
The mosque massacre makes clear that the Egyptian regime is incapable of defeating the Islamic State (IS) insurgency in Sinai on its own. Egypt’s incapacity is as much a function of economic priorities as military capabilities. . . . [I]n the absence of significant economic support for developing the Sinai, it is hard to see an end to the insurgency.
If the Europeans, Americans, and Arab League member states chose to develop the northern Sinai for a Palestinian state with half the enthusiasm they have devoted to building a non-viable Palestinian state in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria that would render Israel indefensible and enfeebled, the Palestinians would have a viable, developed state in short order. And the Egyptians in turn would have the international support they need . . . to defeat IS completely and to rebuild their national economy.
The New York Times article may or may not be an accurate portrayal of a real plan presented by the actual crown prince of Saudi Arabia. But if it isn’t his plan, it should be, . . . because it is the first peace plan anyone has ever put forward that makes sense. Not only does it secure the future of both Israel and the Palestinians, it enables Arab states like Saudi Arabia to work openly with Israel to defeat their joint Iranian enemy, while ensuring that Israel can survive and remain a credible ally to its Arab neighbors for decades to come.