Why Donald Trump’s Peace Plan Might Accomplish What Others Have Not

In an in-depth analysis of the last three decades of attempts to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict—informed in part by their own first-hand involvement during the George W. Bush administration—Douglas Feith and Lewis Libby explain why these efforts failed, often at significant cost of human life. Repeatedly, Palestinian leaders were rewarded for rejecting offers of territory, as each Israeli or American proposal was followed by a more generous one. The plan set forward by the Trump administration, however, deviates from that pattern:

An innovative feature [of the new U.S. plan] is the warning to the Palestinians that steadfast rejectionism will not give them victory, but further erode their position. In other words, time is not on their side, and it is not necessarily even neutral.

That idea is not just a theme of the peace plan; it is a message of the series of policy moves—on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank settlements—that preceded the plan. Administration officials explained those moves as recognition of reality. They said, in effect, that they were dropping pretenses. Jerusalem has all along been Israel’s capital and the U.S. government will no longer ignore reality and pretend otherwise. The U.S. government will no longer view the Golan, for 50 years under Israeli control, as part of Syria. And it will no longer deny the reality or legitimacy of Israeli West Bank settlements and claim that the West Bank is “occupied territory” where Jews are not allowed to live.

The Trump team is saying that reality would be different now if all of Israel’s neighbors had made peace years ago, but some did not. New U.S. policies will no longer insulate Palestinians from the costs they incur by refusing to end the conflict. [President] Trump has thus set aside what had been a general principle of U.S. policy since 1967, that changes in the status of the West Bank should be made only through peace negotiations. Negotiated change, of course, would be preferable, but the Palestinians are being warned that, if they refuse to negotiate reasonably, Israel can improve its position, with U.S. backing

No one should hold his breath waiting for the Trump plan to produce a peace deal. Its principal themes, however, may have lasting influence for the good.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Peace Process, Trump Peace Plan

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas