The U.S. Peace Plan May Finally Bring about a Palestinian State

Among those most fervently opposed to Israel applying its sovereignty to Jewish areas of the West Bank are members of the hard right, many of whom live in the affected areas. They do so because, under the Trump administration proposal, the extension of sovereignty makes possible the creation of a Palestinian state in the remainder of the territory. Haviv Rettig Gur comments on this irony:

Israel has avoided a decision on the fate of the West Bank for 53 years. Over the past eleven years, as he led a nation still reeling from the bloodletting that resulted from previous attempts at resolving the conflict, Benjamin Netanyahu has made that tradition of indecision his defining policy vision: do nothing, avoid the downsides of withdrawal or annexation as long as the benefits remain elusive, and wait for the Palestinians to come around.

The Trump peace plan put forward by Jared Kushner’s team, whether intentionally or by accident, disrupted that comfortable Israeli indecision. Unlike other peace plans, it leans decisively in Israel’s favor, and so makes indecision harder to justify. For the first time since the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, settlement leaders find themselves forced to explain to the public in videos and protest tents why they are opposed to the plan.

The plan was supposed to reshape Palestinian politics, to clarify the limits of Palestinian demands and force a shift in the Palestinian negotiating position. But the Palestinians haven’t budged. The effect, ironically, is being felt mostly on the Israeli side. In its very acceptance of Israel’s arguments about land and security, the Trump plan is forcing a moment of decision, a line in the sand. There is too much at stake, Netanyahu has argued, to cling to the old ambiguity.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Annexation, Israel & Zionism


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