Trump's New Approach on Israel-Palestine Just Might Work
Many reports on the Bibi Netanyahu/Donald Trump love-fest/press conference Wednesday focused on the minor contretemps between the two leaders regarding the settlements. But that felt like a side show, a scène obligatoire in a very old drama, meant only to be dispensed with to get to the meat of the conflict.
The real headline -- and it's a big one -- from the meeting of the two leaders had leaked before they met and was reiterated by Trump afterwards: the new administration no longer necessarily adheres only to the two-state solution. Anything acceptable to the two parties is fine with them as long as it yields a lasting peace.
That should scare the bejesus out of the Palestinians.
Their leadership -- if not their exploited citizenry -- has been enjoying a profitable status quo since the 1993 Oslo Accords. They've collected vast amounts of funds from the Americans, the Europeans, and the Japanese for claiming they wanted a two-state solution while somehow never closing the deal. Indeed, on at least two occasions the Palestinians were offered roughly 95% of their demands yet still walked away from the table. Some of them may actually have wanted a two-state solution, but they weren't in control.
Because the dream of a one-state solution lived on -- one state with no Jews, that is.
Fewer and fewer of the Israelis themselves, especially after Israel voluntarily left Gaza and got the religious psychopaths of Hamas for their trouble, believe in the two-state solution anymore. Now they have at least a tentative ally in Trump. Who knows -- Trump may even move to cut off or restrict funds to the Palestinian Authority. Talk about causes for panic.
Meanwhile, several other solutions are on the table, from Israeli sovereignty over the entire area to Israel unilaterally defining a Palestinian state and withdrawing to those borders. I still very much prefer a negotiated two-state solution, but Trump's method, hinting at tough-love, may be the only way to get it, since nothing has been achieved since 1993. One could safely say it's time to try something different.
The day before Donald met Bibi, new CIA director Mike Pompeo was in Ramallah meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. I'm betting this wasn't a happy encounter for Abbas, and that some news was being delivered to him that might make him uncomfortable. A squeeze is being put on the Palestinians as never before.
In the short term, look for a lot of yelling and screaming from the likes of Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat, the aging profiteers of the pseudo-state business. In the long run, it could only get better.