Preliminary Takeaways from the New U.S. Peace Plan

January 29, 2020 | Shmuel Rosner
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Yesterday afternoon, the White House announced its long-awaited plan to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Shmuel Rosner zeroes in on its most important aspects and likely consequences:

Israel must agree to a Palestinian state. Small, demilitarized, but a state. [But the creation of such a] Palestinian state no longer means an evacuation of settlements or an Israeli withdrawal from territory it deems crucial for its security or for symbolic reasons. In fact, the opposite is true: Israel can quickly annex the rest of the territory.

All peace plans pose the same dilemma to Israel and its neighbors: is this the best deal the sides can hope for, or maybe they ought to wait for a better option, in some unknown, distant future? The Palestinians have no doubt: the future will be better than the present. They could be right. Although, it is worth remembering that they relied on the same math when they rejected all previous peace plans.

Israel faces a true moment of choice this time. . . . Most Israeli leaders up until now have not thought that a Palestinian state is a viable or desirable idea. . . . Basically, the deal offered to Israel is this: accept a symbolic statement of statehood in exchange for an arrangement that includes almost everything you need and want.

Rosner is skeptical of the theory that both the plan’s release and Benjamin Netanyahu’s acquiescence are simply a ploy to help keep the prime minister in power. “[I]t is not at all clear that the release of the plan helps Netanyahu.” Moreover,

there is a very good chance that the plan will not matter, politically speaking. For about a year now, the polls show an unchanged picture of voters who already made up their minds. No crisis or maneuver significantly altered their principled preference—for or against Netanyahu. There is reason to suspect that the Trump deal will [likewise have] no effect on the governing coalition in Israel.

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