Trump’s Disruptive Israeli–Palestinian Plan Gives Peace a Chance
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Trump describes his Middle East peace plan on January 28 (YouTube screenshot)

A disruptive business model can permanently alter an entire industry, often for the better. The real story of President Trump’s “deal of the century” is that his team of real-estate developers used disruptive innovation to change the political landscape of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Trump’s peace initiative recognizes that in past peace negotiations, the Palestinians spurned generous offers of statehood because they rejected Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East. Trump’s new paradigm requires that the Palestinians demonstrate their genuine commitment to peace by first and foremost recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The new peace plan gives primacy to Israel’s security and forces the Palestinians to abandon their belief that time will bring them Israel’s annihilation. The plan sends the Palestinians a clear message: Israel is here to stay. Time is not on your side, and rejection will not bring you a sweeter deal. This is the best you’re going to get, so make a deal now or lose your dream of a state. We are moving on with or without you.

This is a sea change from previous approaches.

Unlike prior proposals, which left the most contentious issues to final-status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the Trump peace plan lays out final outcomes on a host of thorny issues. Before achieving statehood, the Palestinians must accept the following: Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, Israel’s security control over the entire West Bank, a demilitarized Palestinian state, and the reality that there will be no demographic compromise of Israel’s existence by a “right of return” of refugees and their descendants. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must take control in Gaza, disarming Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Palestinians must end all state-sponsored incitement against Israel, renounce terrorism, and abolish their pay-to-slay program of rewards for violence and murder.

If they fulfill these demands demonstrating their desire for peace, Palestinians will have their state on roughly 70 percent of the West Bank, doubling their current footprint. Their capital will be adjacent to East Jerusalem. The U.S. and others will provide up to $50 billion to reduce poverty, create jobs, and boost productivity.

Contrary to Obama administration insistence that Israel return to its insecure pre-1967 armistice lines, the Trump plan allows Israel to assume immediate sovereignty over their Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank) communities and the Jordan Valley but prohibits any building of new communities for four years. Israel has embraced the plan and is coordinating with the administration to begin annexation.

Abbas contemptuously responded to the Trump peace plan, “We say a thousand times, no, no, no.” Echoing the Palestinian president, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called it a “political stunt,” and Elizabeth Warren dismissed it as a “sham.” Amy Klobuchar labeled it “one-sided.” Bernie Sanders attacked it for not ending the “Israeli occupation.” Democrats seem to be doubling down on 70 years of failed peace processes. They view the Palestinians as “victims” and, ignoring the history of Palestinian behavior and intransigence, believe peace can only be achieved by arm-twisting the Israelis to compromise their rights and security.

Arabs’ reaction to this unconventional approach is more positive. Mindful of the importance of American and Israeli support against the threat of Iran and fed up with Palestinian refusal to negotiate, key Gulf states in the region — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt— accept the Trump plan as the basis for any future talks. West Bank Palestinians ignore a leadership call for mass demonstrations. Trump’s ongoing efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Arab countries continue to build Arab support and pressure for Palestinian acquiescence. According to Raghida Dergham for the National–Abu Dhabi, “With little international appetite to oppose the Trump peace plan,” the Palestinians need “more realistic” because they are “on the verge of becoming a hopeless and possibly permanent burden.”

Trump’s peace plan reflects the change occurring in the Middle East. It is realistic, innovative, and fair to both sides. Placing an expiration date on the deal, allowing Israel immediate annexation of some territory, and, should the Palestinians fail to buy in, giving Israel the green light to build more “settlements” puts a price on Palestinian rejectionism.

“Disruptive innovation (in business) is a high stakes game, with … potentially high rewards,” explains Alison Coleman in Forbes. “It requires other players in the ecosystem to acknowledge and embrace the change.” Coleman’s comments are applicable to the political arena, as well.

Israeli diplomat Abba Eban said after the failed 1973 Geneva Peace Conference, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to make peace with Israel. Today, Abbas rejects President Trump’s vision, hoping that a Democrat wins the 2020 presidential election. But if our “disruptor-in-chief” is victorious, perhaps, at last, the Palestinians will not miss this opportunity for peace.

Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. 

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