On Tuesday President Trump released details of the long-awaited “deal of the century” Mideast peace plan. The 80-page document, the product of an effort led by presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, takes the comatose peace process in a bold new direction. But whether the plan can succeed depends largely on if Palestinians are willing to give peace a chance.
The new approach acknowledges the changes that have taken place in the region, especially the new facts on the ground since the 1967 Six Day War that gave Israel physical control over Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. This is no “land for peace” approach, like the one tested in the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which resulted in the strip becoming a rocket launching pad for Hamas.
Perennial stumbling blocks like land swaps, the Palestinian right of return, and Palestinian sovereignty over the eastern part of Jerusalem have been swept away. Instead, Palestinians are being presented with a series of steps establishing a path for sovereignty, with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem and control of most of the land they claim is occupied by Israel.
Our shifting relationship with Israel
The new plan implicitly recognizes that the political context of the Israeli/Palestinian dispute has changed markedly in the last 10 years. President Obama had a contentious relationship with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pushed back against the special relationship between the United States and Israel more than any of his predecessors. At the same time, Obama did not inspire confidence among the Sunni Arab leaders whose buy-in is necessary for any peace plan to be successful.