Why the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan shouldn’t be released

Dead on arrival.

That’s what almost every expert predicts will be the fate of the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the author of the new book, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know,” I share this view.

Low expectations

Developed in secrecy for the past two years by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, along with Trump’s longtime lawyers Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman (now U.S. ambassador to Israel), the peace plan’s release has been repeatedly postponed.

According to news reports, it will finally be made public sometime next month. That’s after the new Israeli government is formed and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends.

You might think that a plan cloaked in secrecy, aimed at achieving what President Trump has called the “deal of the century” to end the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, would be eagerly anticipated and widely welcomed.

But it seems that no one is enthusiastically waiting for this plan or ready to embrace it, least of all Israelis and Palestinians. Even President Trump has kept his distance from the plan and, reportedly, hasn’t read it in full.

About the only thing the Trump administration’s peace plan has going for it is the fact that nobody expects it to succeed. With expectations so low, there’s less risk that the likely failure of the plan will trigger another round of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

That’s what happened previously when U.S.-led efforts to make peace failed. The Second Intifada, for example, erupted shortly after the failure of the peace talks at Camp David in July 2000.

An Israeli border policeman and a Palestinian scream at each other on Oct. 13, 2000, as the Palestinian is refused entry to the al-Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers. Reuters/Amit Shabi

Dim chance of success

There are many reasons why Kushner’s peace plan seems doomed to fail. Some of these are the Trump administration’s own making.

President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 – with no mention of Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. Since then, relations between his administration and the Palestinian leadership based in the West Bank have gone from bad to worse.

The administration has taken a series of punitive actions against Palestinians. They include ending U.S. funding for the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, slashing aid to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, closing the PLO’s office in Washington, D.C. and even eliminating funding for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence programs.

But those actions have not forced the Palestinian leadership to be more compliant and compromising.

Instead, the measures stiffened their resistance to American pressure while angering and alienating the Palestinian public, who have suffered as a result of the cutbacks in U.S. aid.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has railed against the Trump administration’s pro-Israel bias, and the Palestinian Authority that Abbas heads has refused to meet with or talk to Trump administration officials.

Political aspirations vs. money

Even if President Abbas were not so hostile to the Trump administration and vice versa, he would never accept the terms of the peace plan that Kushner and company have devised.

Although its details remain secret, its broad outlines have gradually emerged.