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

July 2, 2020 | Haviv Rettig Gur
About the author: Haviv Rettig Gur is the senior analyst for the Times of Israel.

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.

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