The New Saudi Peace Plan Might Be No More Than a Rumor. But It’s a Good Idea

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.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Sinai Peninsula, Two-State Solution

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin