As the Middle East peace plan conceived by the Trump administration has been receiving severe criticism from the Palestinians and the Arab countries, U.S. experts say this blatantly pro-Israel project was the outcome of political calculation and will unlikely work.
Though touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as “realistic” and “a win-win opportunity for both sides,” the plan is widely seen as biased and strongly favoring Israel.
While the United States had long voiced its support for the creation of a Palestinian state roughly along the boundaries existing before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Trump proposal suggested recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over its settlements in the West Bank, which most of the world regards as illegal.
The plan also pushed aside a long expected goal of building a fully autonomous Palestinian state as it recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital,” while claiming that the Palestinians’ capital will include areas of East Jerusalem.
“Despite its talk of ‘compromises’ on ‘both sides,’ the plan satisfies a long list of right-wing Israeli demands on virtually all core issues in the conflict,” wrote Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank, in an article published in the Foreign Policy.
Following the Palestinians’ firm rejection of the plan, Arab foreign ministers on Saturday unanimously agreed to boycott the plan and not to cooperate “in any way” with Washington in its implementation.
Experts have noticed that Trump’s plan, also known as the “deal of the century,” was unveiled at a time when both he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are facing considerable political problems at home, with Trump embroiled in an impeachment trial and Netanyahu facing charges of corruption.
“The announcement’s chosen timing, specific staging, limited participants, and indeed its substance make clear that it has less to do with a good faith effort to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and more to do with the immediate legal and electoral challenges that confront both leaders,” said William Wechsler, director of the Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council.
Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua that Trump released his Middle East plan in an effort to influence the upcoming Israeli elections.
“His proposal is favorable to Israel and intended to help Prime Minister Netanyahu win re-election,” West said.
In the short term, the plan is unlikely to have a major impact, either in reviving a moribund peace process or in driving a surge of political support for Trump or Netanyahu, Wechsler noted.
The long-awaited plan, which had been referred to as “dead on arrival” even before its announcement, is unlikely to bring Israel and the Palestinians anywhere closer to peace, experts say.
Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the center for international and security studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua that it is “hard to see this as a basis for negotiation.”
As for how the plan might impact the region as a whole, Ramsay said, “it will create the mistaken impression in some Arab countries that the current U.S. government has no negotiating leverage over Israel.”
The current path, in the absence of a credible peace process, leads inexorably to a terrible choice between a Jewish minority trying to indefinitely rule an Arab majority, or the kind of violent catastrophe that changes the demographics of the area, said Wechsler.
“Neither of these scenarios should be acceptable to any side,” the scholar added.
“Also rendering the plan a farce is that one of the parties to the conflict — the Palestinians — have not been engaged on the substance of the proposal,” Hady Amr and Ilan Goldenberg, two former members of the U.S. negotiating team on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, wrote in an article published on the Foreign Policy website.
It is nonsensical to expect the Palestinians to go along with a deal written by someone who tried to give away their capital, closed the U.S. diplomatic mission to their people, closed down the Palestinians’ own mission in Washington, and severed all financial ties, the experts noted.
“This is not a way to set the grounds for a serious diplomatic process,” Amr and Goldenberg said. Enditem
(Xinhua reporter Matthew Rusling in Washington D.C. also contributed to the story.)