The Art of No Deal

Every experienced negotiator knows that sometimes, the best deal is no deal at all. President Trump, a life-long deal maker, deserves great credit for recognizing, unlike a long line of predecessors, that there is no reason for the U.S. to pressure Israel into a comprehensive “peace” deal with the Palestinians. That is the background for tomorrow’s opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians are wailing and gnashing their teeth. Or is that the Associated Press doing the wailing and gnashing?

Monday’s opening of the U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem, cheered by Israelis as a historic validation, is seen by Palestinians as an in-your-face affirmation of pro-Israel bias by President Donald Trump and a new blow to dreams of statehood.

Israel is a valuable ally of the United States; the Palestinians are not. Of course the American government should be “biased” in favor of its ally.

The festive inauguration helps harden Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rejection of Washington as a future mediator in the conflict with Israel, likely ushering in a prolonged period of diplomatic vacuum in which other powers are unwilling or unable to step up as brokers.

Mahmoud Abbas says that he will reject any plan offered by the Trump administration:

In the meantime, Abbas vows to reject any U.S. proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, arguing that there’s nothing to talk about because of the U.S. policy shift on Jerusalem and its failure to rein in Israeli settlement expansion on lands sought for a Palestinian state.

“We will not accept the deal,” Abbas told a PLO convention two weeks ago, referring to the plan reportedly being prepared by Trump’s Kushner-led Mideast team.

If the Palestinians had actually wanted a state, they could have had one decades ago, when Israel offered them substantially everything they claimed to have been bargaining for. Now, that ship has sailed. The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves and their leaders.

Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the AP is clueless or is intentionally misleading its readers. Like this:

Abbas, a staunch opponent of violence, hasn’t offered an alternative to statehood through negotiations with Israel or found a world power willing to challenge Washington.

The AP’s bald assertion that Abbas is a “staunch opponent of violence” is absurd.

Hamas is pledging to increase the already violent “demonstrations” going on in Gaza in protest against the opening of the U.S. embassy. That no doubt will happen, but it is hard to imagine anything more futile. The world has grown tired of the Palestinians’ determination to fail. The AP says:

Abbas, who for years had banked on the U.S. to persuade Israel to cede land for a Palestinian state, felt betrayed and halted contacts with the Trump administration.

But there is no reason for the U.S. to try to force Israel into making concessions in exchange for a “peace” that the Palestinians have no intention of maintaining. Happily, we now have a president who is willing to walk away from the failed “land for peace” strategy that has obsessed prior administrations.

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