Attempting to Restart the Peace Process Will Do More Harm Than Good

April 12 2019

For some time, reports have circulated that the White House plans to unveil its proposal for a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) not long after the Israeli elections, meaning that its release might be imminent. Robert Satloff argues that the plan, developed under the direction of the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, should never see the light of day:

[The current] situation, in which Israel and the PA have strained political ties but effective security cooperation, has proved surprisingly resilient. Few love the status quo, but it is not so objectionable that either Netanyahu or Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has walked away from it. It may not have brought a final peace deal, but it has sustained the PA as a reasonably well-functioning governing entity—by regional standards—and protected the West Bank from becoming a platform for rocket and terrorist attacks against Israel. . . .

That surprisingly sustainable house of cards may finally come crumbling down if Abbas rejects the Kushner plan, which he has already given every indication of doing. . . .

[Furthermore, Kushner] likely assumes that key Arab states—led by Saudi Arabia—are poised to bless his plan, giving it vital backing that will compel Abbas not to reject it out of hand. But there are two problems with this assumption. First, the Saudis are unlikely to offer even a tepid endorsement of the peace plan without similar backing from Israel’s Arab peace partners, Egypt and Jordan, . . . both [of which] have shown spine in recent years in resisting Saudi pressure to take steps they view as contrary to their national interests, and endorsing a plan that earns a Palestinian rejection would almost certainly be a bridge too far. . . .

Finally, in addition to triggering a negative spiral in U.S.-Israel, Israel-Palestinian, and U.S.-Saudi ties, moving forward with the Kushner plan would distract from the president’s signature achievement in the Middle East: the unexpectedly effective impact of the so-called maximum-pressure campaign on Iran. . . . The Trump administration should not give Iran and its local Islamist allies a political victory by issuing a Middle East peace plan that is likely to earn swift rejection by the Palestinians and strong criticism even from longtime U.S. allies.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Donald Trump, Iran, Jared Kushner, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process

What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics