Deal of the Century?

That is how President Trump bills the Israeli-Arab peace plan that he unveiled today. You can download the entire proposal, titled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” here. I haven’t had time to digest the entire plan, but the Jerusalem Post summarizes the high points:

Borders: Trump’s plan features a map of what Israel’s new borders will be, should it enact the plan fully. Israel will retain 20% of the West Bank and will lose a small amount of land in the Negev near the Gaza-Egypt border. The Palestinians will have a pathway to a state in the vast majority of territory in the West Bank, while Israel will maintain control of all borders.

This is the first time an American peace plan has included a map. President Trump apparently has delved into the details of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Jerusalem: The Palestinians will have a capital in east Jerusalem based on northern and eastern neighborhoods that are outside the Israeli security barrier – Kafr Akab, Abu Dis and half of Shuafat. Otherwise, Trump said Jerusalem will remain undivided as Israel’s capital.

If implemented, this would be a big win for Israel. This is important, too:

Settlements: Israel will retain the Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank in the broadest definition possible, meaning not the municipal borders of each settlement but their security perimeters. This also includes 15 isolated settlements, which will be enclaves within an eventual Palestinian state. Within those settlements Israel will not be able to build for the next four years.

Security: Israel will be in control of security from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The IDF will not have to leave the West Bank. No change to Israel’s approach to Judea and Samaria would be needed.

Palestinian state: The plan does not include immediate recognition of a Palestinian state; rather, it expects a willingness on Israel’s part to create a pathway toward Palestinian statehood based on specific territory, which is about 70% of Judea and Samaria, including areas A and B and parts of Area C. The state will only come into existence in four years if the Palestinians accept the plan, if the Palestinian Authority stops paying terrorists and inciting terrorism and if Hamas and Islamic Jihad put down their weapons. In addition, the American plan calls on the Palestinians to give up corruption, respect human rights, freedom of religion and a free press, so that they don’t have a failed state. If those conditions are met, the US will recognize a Palestinian state and implement a massive economic plan to assist it.

I think the likelihood of Palestinian leadership inducing Hamas and Islamic Jihad to abandon violence, or giving up on its own crusade to massacre Jewish Israelis, is close to zero. Early returns suggest that this evaluation is correct:

Palestinians from across the political spectrum have strongly rejected US President Donald Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, which was unveiled by the White House on Tuesday.

“We say 1,000 ‘no’s to this deal,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.
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Palestinian officials and political factions vowed to work toward thwarting the plan, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” on the pretext that it aims to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Abbas was speaking during an emergency meeting of Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Tuesday evening to discuss ways of responding to the Trump plan. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad representatives were invited to participate in the meeting.

In a televised address, Abbas called the plan a “conspiracy,” adding that his people’s rights “are not for sale.”

“I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,” he said.

I guess that is a No. If you are a Palestinian politician, the money is on the other side. Notwithstanding the fact that the Trump plan includes, if the Palestinians put down their arms and agree to acknowledge the State of Israel, billions of dollars in aid that dwarf, on a per capita basis, the Marshall Plan. But the welfare of the Palestinian people has never been a priority for radical Arab politicians.

So, does President Trump’s peace plan have a chance of succeeding? Probably not, in the short term. But at some point, Israeli and Palestinian Arabs may be willing to acknowledge that terrorism has been a dead end for them. This will require a complete change in leadership, but that likely will happen eventually.

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