Proceeding with the U.S. Peace Plan Can Breathe New Life into the Two-State Solution while Respecting the Will of the Israeli People

Israel’s most recent election seemed inconclusive in that neither the left nor the right won a clear majority, leading to the just-formed unity government. But Eran Lerman argues that in fact the election delivered a wholly unambiguous decision about the approach to peacemaking that has prevailed since the Oslo Accords. This approach, endorsed by European diplomats, most policy experts, and, until recently, the U.S. government, has had no success while bringing about much violence—something the Israeli people understand:

[Labor and Meretz], the two political parties that advocated a left-wing Zionist variation on this theme of the [Oslo] paradigm—as distinct from the Arab [parties’] outright support for Palestinian demands—did very poorly in the March 2020 elections. Labor—now a mere shadow of its former self—is joining the Benjamin Netanyahu-Benny Gantz coalition. At the time of Oslo, Labor and Meretz had 56 out of 120 seats in the Knesset. The combined representation of the Zionist left is now down to four seats. This may well be called the mother-of-all-democratic verdicts on the underlying propositions which led—back in the 1990s—to the Oslo agreements, that came to be perceived by most Israelis as a tragic and very costly misadventure.

In between these two ideological camps there is now—and indeed, there always has been—a broad range of centrist sentiments, from elements within Labor on the left to well within Likud on the right, and with Gantz at the very center. This camp [favors the] Trump plan, [but] sees a Palestinian state, albeit not on Palestinian terms, as a viable proposition.

If the new government follows popular sentiment, and annexes some parts of the West Bank, in keeping with the U.S. peace plan, Lerman believes—contrary to the conventional wisdom—it will not imperil or render impossible Palestinian statehood, so long as it is done right:

[I]t will be important for Israel and the U.S. to coordinate actions on a range of issues that would serve to allay Palestinian and Arab fears that [these moves] are just a prelude to a full annexation of the territories and the foreclosure of the prospect for Palestinian statehood. Firm language needs to be heard on the Trump plan in all its aspects.

[W]hile extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and settlement blocs, Jerusalem can cede some areas now under its direct control to the control of the Palestinian Authority. Funds should be allocated early on for roads and other infrastructure that would make a future Palestinian state “contiguous in terms of transportation,” i.e., with its citizens able to travel in comfort, not on dirt roads, free of the need to go through Israeli checkpoints. Cooperation over security and over the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic should be intensified. The rewards envisioned in the economic chapters of the Trump plan should begin to flow to Palestinians, Jordanians, and Egyptians alike.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics, Trump Peace Plan, Two-State Solution


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security