Kushner / Trump peace plan for Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Updated February 4, 2020)

UPDATE The Arab League has unanimously rejected the Trump/Kushner peace plan. The EU has rejected it,


Louis Imbert et Benjamin Barthe, “Les pays arabes, réunis au Caire, mettent leurs divergences sur la Palestine en sourdine; Les membres de la Ligue arabe ont unanimement rejeté le plan de paix de Donald Trump, que certains d’entre eux avaient pourtant appelé à examiner, après sa présentation mardi à Washington. Le Monde, le 2 Février 2020 (mis à jour hier à 16h37).

Bernardo de Miguel and Juan Carlos Sanz, “Europa se desmarca del plan de paz de Trump para Oriente Próximo; Borrell advierte de que la anexión de territorios palestinos tendrá consecuencias; Israel condena la “anormal” posición de la UE,” El País, 4 de febrero 2020 (10:43 EST).

Seif MADI with Haitham EL-TABEI in Riyadh (AFP), “Pan-Islamic body OIC rejects Trump’s Mideast plan,” Yahoo News, February 3, 2020.

The U.S. has announced its long-awaited “Peace Plan” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has all the hallmarks of a “peace plan” developd with Israel, no participation by he Palestinians, and no effort by the U.S. to be an even-handed broker. It is, in the view of many, merely a one-sided electoral document designed to help Benjamin Netanyahu in the forthcoming Israeli elections, and Donald Trump in the November 2020 elections.

See, e.g.,

David E. Sanger, “A Deal That Has Two Elections, Rather Than Mideast Peace, as Its Focus; The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan unveiled by President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounds more like a road map for their own futures than for the Middle East,” New York Times, January 28, 2020.

Max Boot, “What Trump and Netanyahu just unveiled was a PR campaign, not a peace plan; peace plan unveiled by President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounds more like a road map for their own futures than for the Middle East,” New York Times, January 29, 2020.

Amanda Mars and Juan Carlos Sanz, “Trump presenta un plan de paz que respalda los intereses clave de Israel; El llamado ‘acuerdo del siglo’ concede a Israel demandas históricas y somete a condiciones difíciles la creación de un Estado propio palestino,” El País, 29 de enero 2020.

Lluís Bassets, “La visión de Donald; En resumen: todo para Israel, vagas promesas para los palestinos,” El País, 28 de enero, 2020.

“Editorial, Israël et la Palestine : la violence du fait accompli; Editorial, Le plan, présenté mardi par le président américain et destiné à mettre un terme au conflit israélo-palestinien, est plus sûrement une nouvelle étape, décisive, dans la destruction d’un projet national; Quel qu’en soit le prix à long terme,” Le Monde, le 29 Janvier 2020 (mis à jour à 19h02).

Nonetheless, David Ignatius, a highly knowledgeable and respected opinion writer for the Washington Post, suggests that the logic behind the plan could put the squeeze on the Palestinians and potentially lead them to accept it.

See David Ignacius, “The Trump peace plan is a squeeze play against the Palestinians;It might work,” Washington Post, January 28, 2020 (8:18 p.m. EST).

He writes:

Throughout the dense text of the peace plan that President Trump announced on Tuesday is a stark but unstated question to the Palestinians: If you reject this deal, as bad as you think it may be, what are you going to get instead?

“We say a thousand no’s to this deal,” said Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority. He reversed Trump’s hyperbolic promises by calling the plan “the slap of the century.” Palestinian antagonism is understandable, but what alternative would they and their supporters propose? That’s an urgent question for Israelis, Americans and Arabs who fear, as I do, that Trump’s attempt to impose a settlement favorable to Israel against the will of the Palestinians will set the stage for more bloodshed and bitterness. If we think this won’t fly, what’s the alternative?

The bottom line for the Trump peace plan, like so many other issues these days, is that it all depends on the November presidential election. The Palestinians won’t sit at Trump’s negotiating table for now. But what would they do if he were reelected, and an Israeli cultural mission was sitting in Riyadh?
The peace plan is a squeeze play, and like everything about Trump, it’s ultimately about raw political power.

Whatever the analytical logic behind the plan, which appears to have been cooked up by Kushner, his buddy Mohamed Bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and their friends in the UAE, the history of the Middle East has demonstrated, time and time again, that governments are subject to the passions in “the Arab street”, and that logic does not always carry the day.

The plan could also play into the hands of the Iranians, who can now denounce leading Sunni states as having sold out to Israel and the United States. It is worth recalling that the external arm of the Revolutionary Guards is named the “Al Quds” force.

In Arabic, that means the “Jerusalem” force.

The Trenchant Observer

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James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.