The American Interest

The Knack of the Non-Deal

An Arab-Israeli peace agreement is like a moderate Syrian rebel or rational leftist: It is possible to visualize, but producing one is daunting. Every attempt has failed. President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan will be no exception.

Hardly the “deal of the century,” it proposes the establishment of a disconnected, truncated Palestinian state with limited sovereignty, covering Gaza and just three-quarters of the West Bank, surrounded on all sides by Israel. All of Jerusalem would be the undivided Israeli capital. In addition, Israel would annex the strategic Jordan Valley and an archipelago of settlements inside the Palestinian remnant.

The plan makes a lasting agreement less likely than at any time since the signing of the 1978 Camp David Accords. Not merely “pro-Israeli,” it is a pro-annexationist, anti-two-state solution. It may help Benjamin Netanyahu get reelected in March, and it may help Trump win some Jewish votes in November, but it will not bring peace.

Trump’s critics are listing these objections as if there was a more just, more balanced proposal on offer. They are forgetting that in the Holy Land we are facing an extreme form of politics as the art of the possible. There will never be a peace acceptable to the Palestinian leadership if it entails the recognition of a Jewish Israel—even within its 1967 borders.

The Arab-Israeli...

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