It’s also positive that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended plans, widely viewed as illegal, to annex part of the West Bank. That’s where we are: Getting Israel not to violate international law is notched up as an achievement. Netanyahu also did not insist the U.A.E. and Bahrain recognize Israel as a Jewish state — perhaps the most ludicrous demand Israel ever made of the Palestinians.
Yet this cannot mask the fact that Israel’s problems are not with the U.A.E. or Bahrain (normalization surfaced an existing web of relations), but with the Palestinians over the division of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. For all the pious sentiments in the agreement about resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the reality is that Trump, Kushner, Friedman et al. have treated the Palestinian national cause with contempt. Their peace plan released earlier this year made a mockery of Palestinian statehood. It offered near carte blanche for Israel.
The Trump administration has no interest in history. Therefore, it cannot understand that the Palestinian struggle is a historical one, as that of the Jews for a homeland was. The Palestinians will not be bought off, a concept foreign to Trump. No Palestinian leader will accept anything resembling the Trump-Kushner plan.
Talk of the Palestinians being pressured now into folding betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the Palestinian psyche. Peace, the one that matters, has not been served by this administration; and some 6.5 million Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank are not going away. The status quo can offer lulls, but not dawns.
The Palestinians have contributed to their own humiliation. You cannot talk about elections and not hold them without being viewed as unserious. The Palestinian Authority, established as part of a defunct peace process, is a collection of undemocratic has-beens.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, sits atop a house of cards that does little or nothing for the Palestinian people. One day it will collapse. Feeble, corrupt leadership has allowed Palestinians to be sold down the river.
There’s another reason for my queasiness at Trump’s Middle East peace show. The Abraham Accords declare: “We support science, art, medicine.” They say, “We seek tolerance and respect for every person,” regardless of “race, faith or ethnicity.”