Like his predecessors, President Trump aspires to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and his administration is reportedly working on a proposal for renewed negotiations. Peter Berkowitz argues that the White House—not to mention the Israelis and Palestinians themselves—can achieve the most by setting its sights low. He suggests that Washington instead look to the recent suggestions of the Israeli scholar Micah Goodman:
First, Israel should increase the Palestinian Authority’s breathing room by transferring to it some of the approximately 60 percent of the West Bank under complete Israeli administrative and military control. Second, Israel should help construct a network of bridges, tunnels, and roads connecting PA-governed areas and over which the PA would exercise control. Third, Israel should cease expansion of settlements situated outside of the Jerusalem neighborhoods and the large blocs that will remain part of Israel under any conceivable agreement. And fourth, Israel should advocate changes to the Paris Protocol (a part of the Oslo Accords signed in 1995 that regulates economic relations between Israel and the PA) that promote Palestinian economic independence.
None of these steps . . . requires a peace treaty. Moreover, [as Goodman puts it], “there would be little consequence for Israeli security, because the Israel Defense Forces would retain a presence on the ground and the work of the Shin Bet security service would remain unaffected.” At the same time, “such actions would indeed shrink the Palestinians’ dependence on Israel and vastly minimize their sense of humiliation.” . . . Abandoning the delusive quest for a comprehensive solution would enable Israel to advance its interests as well as those of the Palestinians. . . .
Particularly in the face of persistent PA defiance, the president’s team should assist Israel—and the Palestinian people—in achieving more by seeking less.