Why the Dangers of American Peacemaking May Outweigh the Merits https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2020/02/why-the-dangers-of-american-peacemaking-may-outweigh-the-merits/

February 7, 2020 | Robert Satloff
About the author: Robert Satloff is the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of several books on the Middle East, including Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands.

To Robert Satloff, the detailed plan put forth by the Trump administration to bring an end to the Israel-Palestinian deserves praise, above all, for rejecting the failed assumptions of previous attempts. Specifically, it includes:

A recognition that the Jordan Valley, not some arbitrary “Green Line” boundary left over from the fluke of battlefield deployments in 1949, should be recognized as Israel’s natural security border; a reflection of the demographic reality that peace cannot be premised on the forced repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers from communities in the West Bank back inside pre-1967 Israel; a clear statement that the solution to the Palestinian refugee problem lies in return of refugees to the new state of Palestine, not in keeping alive fantasies about the refugees’ alleged “right of return” to Israel.

Yet Satloff also harbors serious concerns, which he elaborates in detail. Above and beyond the specifics, he argues that the proposal, which Palestinian leaders have already rejected—as they have every other proposal for Palestinian statehood—can do more harm than good:

Predictably enough, it took less than a week for Arab and Muslim states—including the Trump administration’s closest partners in the Middle East—to reject the plan in the clearest and most vociferous terms. In so doing, the White House actually succeeded in retarding a positive trend—growing regional indifference to the Palestinian cause—and replacing it with across-the-board Arab and Muslim support for the most rejectionist sentiments of a tired, increasingly illegitimate Palestinian leadership.

[Moreover], there should be no doubt what is going to happen when a future president of a different party inherits the more unabashedly “pro-Israel” positions proposed by the Trump peace plan. He or she will almost surely renounce what Trump proposed and face a decision as to whether to issue his or her own peace plan. [If the latter, it] is likely to be . . . based on principles less rational and reasoned than the . . . Trump plan.

[Finally], after a century of conflict, one must admit the possibility that the Venn diagram of Israel-Palestinian peace may not exist. That is, there may be no overlap between what Palestinians will accept and what Israelis will offer. Traditionally, the main reason for the absence of peace has been Palestinian rejectionism, their refusal of every partition plan since 1937. That has not changed.

Until [it does], the goal of U.S. policy should be clear—to continue the historic march of shrinking the conflict from a meta-contest between Arabs and Israelis to a managed dispute between two peoples uneasily sharing the same tiny sliver of land on the eastern Mediterranean.

Read more on American Interest: https://www.the-american-interest.com/2020/02/05/we-need-a-corrective-to-old-catechisms-on-peace-trumps-plan-isnt-it/

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