International Affairs

Trump shouldn’t waste time on the Israel-Palestinian ‘peace process’

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In light of the passing of the anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations Security Council, President-elect Donald Trump should respond by not letting his administration waste one second on pushing forward the Middle East “peace process” that will lead only to failure or an eruption of violence.

{mosads}President Obama decided to allow the resolution targeting Israel’s control of territories in the West Bank and Jerusalem to pass last Friday, indirectly giving backing to boycott movements, terrorist groups and terror-supporting states such as Iran that wish to see Israel weakened and its territory reduced to vulnerable borders.


Trump responded by tweeting on Saturday: “The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!”

This indicates that Trump may push to resume the peace process.

In addition, Trump was previously quoted as saying his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could help solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict while in a meeting at the New York Times in November.

“I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians, that would be such a great achievement,” he told New York Times staff.

But, Palestinians and Israelis realize there is currently no chance for an agreement, and recent polling confirm this.

Two-thirds (65 percent) of Palestinians say a two-state solution is no longer viable, according to a poll published in December by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. In addition, the poll found a majority in favor of armed attacks and a return to an armed intifada.

And in a Pew poll published back in March, only 43 percent of Israeli Jews think “a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully.”

Another attempt at the so-called peace process, such as the rejection of generous deals to the Palestinians at Camp David talks in 2000 or in 2008 by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, would likely lead to failure.

Moreover, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unwilling to close a deal, mainly for cultural, religious and economic reasons. Abbas cannot make concessions, just as former President Yasser Arafat could not, because it would ruin his honor and legacy — and perhaps lead to his assassination.

Former longtime Pentagon official Harold Rhode, who is currently a distinguished senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute, says America is obsessed with the negotiations, which “are unsolvable for the foreseeable future.”

“No Muslim leader can recognize the right of the Jews to any part of Israel or its ancient history because from a Muslim perspective, it is Muslim,” he said. “Any Muslim who would permanently cede Muslim territory to non-Muslims would lose honor and respect as well as be subject to death.”

“Americans are baffled by this. Arafat made this clear at Camp David with former President Bill Clinton. Mahmoud Abbas therefore needs to say whatever he needs to in order to pacify the Americans, but never give in to permanent territorial compromise.”

According to David Wurmser, who served as senior adviser on the Middle East to former Vice President Dick Cheney and is currently an executive at the Dephi Global Analysis Group, which he founded: “To admit the failure of the peace process is tantamount to the West’s policy elite’s admitting the complete collapse of the several paradigms upon which their entire world view is anchored.”

“Those paradigms, and their offspring — the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — will be only swept aside when the demands of reality overwhelm the policy elites and they are rejected or fade away, which is already a process under way,” he said, referring to the overshadowing of the conflict by regional chaos and worldwide terrorism.

Even if Trump were able to coerce both sides into an agreement — no matter how unlikely — an eruption of violence, particularly by Hamas and Palestinians opposed to a deal, would only be a matter of time.

Within the larger picture, the U.S. does not understand that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows there is no chance for a peace deal with the current Palestinian leadership.

Netanyahu uses this knowledge when he calls for peace talks: there is no way the Palestinians will agree. The Palestinian side also understands the dynamics and plays the same game to increase its international support and pressure on Israel. All the while, the U.S. government and the Europeans continue to push for more talks that have gone nowhere. 

Therefore, the peace process should be viewed by the incoming Trump administration as a black hole and shouldn’t waste any political capital on it. There are some hopeful signs in this direction, such as the appointment of hardliner David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. 

Efraim Karsh, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center) at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and Professor Emeritus at King’s College London, says that given the Palestinian Authority’s rejectionist, corrupt and repressive nature, only a sea change will give some hope.

“But, of course, the administration must ask itself if it can produce such a change given the U.S. abysmal failures in regime changes and the limits of its wider ability to influence Middle East dynamics.”

In a BESA research paper in September titled “The Oslo Disaster,” Karsh argued that the resulting diplomatic process was “the starkest strategic blunder in Israel’s history” and “one of the worst calamities ever to have afflicted Israelis and Palestinians.”

On that note, Trump should not dig deeper and should instead think outside of the box — perhaps disposing with the two-state solution.


Ariel Ben Solomon specializes in Middle East and Israeli affairs. He’s served as correspondent for the Jerusalem Post and written for the Times of Israel and is co-creator and editor of the blog Middle East Cowboys.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump Israel Israeli–Palestinian conflict Middle East Palestine

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