Flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump unveiled his long anticipated peace plan, in a public event seemingly more designed to distract from Netanyahu’s indictment than to actually offer anything of substance.
A lot of terms of the plan have been long-rumored, and effectively remain so even after the presentation, as there was a conspicuous lack of specificity, and of any concrete details, beyond Trump insisting this is the Palestinians’ “last chance.“
But their last chance for what? That’s less clear. Trump talked of Palestinian statehood, but doing so next to Netanyahu, who repeatedly has denounced the very notion of a Palestinian state, gives that very little credibility. Moreover, reports are that the deal forbids the Palestinians from having any of the trappings of a state, including even superficial control over its own borders.
What was said Tuesday put no doubt on that interpretation, and indeed the biggest takeaway of the offer was not that the Palestinians were getting barely something, but that Trump was prepared to immediately endorse Israeli sovereignty on the annexation of all settlements, and the Jordan Valley.
Trump did suggest Palestinian territory would double, but as with everything else the Palestinians might get, this was vague. Trump even declared that Israel had for the first time accepted a map, but then proceeded to say that a committee was being formed with Israel to actually work out what the map will look like, underscoring that no map has been settled upon at all.
Further offers to the Palestinians were similarly dubious, as Trump reiterated a $50 billion US investment offer, now conditioned on accepting the plan, such as it is. Trump also promised a four year window in which Israel would not develop any settlements in the occupied part of the West Bank that is nominally set aside for Palestinian statehood. Yet there is no apparent enforcement mechanism for this within the plan, and it is unlikely that either Trump or the Israeli government would be able to stop illegal settlements popping up across Palestine.
That both Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz were able to endorse the plan underscores how little the Palestinians would really get, as anything that might conceivably end in a proper Palestinian state would be wildly unpopular on the Israeli right, and a non-starter during Israel’s constant elections.
This assumption of Palestinian rejection is likely a big part of Israeli acceptance, as it would allow them to spin themselves as the pro-peace ones, and the Palestinians as the real problem.
The Ambassadors of Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates were in attendance at the unveiling, which suggests at least some nominal support within the Arab world. This is being emphasized, and presented as some support by “the other side,” even though no Palestinians were there, nor is it clear if any Palestinians were even invited.