Jared’s Plan for Mideast Peace

It’s such a simple idea: If the Palestinians just surrender all their claims and accept whatever Israel is willing to give them, then there will be peace!
Why didn’t somebody think of this sooner?


As soon as the Palestinians realize how easily they can achieve peace — just give up — I’m sure they’ll get on board with the “Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” the Trump administration unveiled Tuesday. How can they refuse if Jared Kushner keeps sweet-talking them like this?

You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity — which, again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities — if they screw this up, I think they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they’re victims, saying they have rights.

Such a charmer, that young man. I wonder if he was this endearing when he proposed to Ivanka. (“Say yes. You don’t want this relationship to fail like all your others have.”) Later on in the same interview, we get to this:

The Palestinian leadership has to ask themselves a question: Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it, and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.

Can’t you just feel the respect? Why wouldn’t you want to make a deal with somebody who sees you as a perennial screw-up?

Of course, Jared’s “state” is a euphemism for something far less than a state. As the map above shows, it is a collection of isolated regions, two of which are connected by a fantasy tunnel. Amir Tibon describes it like this in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

The solution that the Trump plan offers to this situation is the creation of a Palestinian “state” that could potentially be established four years from now, in the areas of the West Bank that will not be annexed by Israel. This future state, however, will have none of the actual characteristics of a state. The streets of all of its cities, towns and villages, as well as the roads connecting them, will be under the full control of the military of another state – Israel. It will have no control over its borders, which will also be controlled by Israel.

In addition, this state, despite Trump’s claim that it will have territorial continuity, will in fact be dissected by Israeli settlements that will remain as “enclaves” inside its territory and will be under full Israeli sovereignty. This means that Palestinian citizens of the future “state” could still stand at Israeli checkpoints – not at the border points between their state and Israel, but well inside their own state, between one town and the next. The official reason for these checkpoints could easily be given as the need to protect the Israeli communities located within Palestinian territory.

The chance that any Palestinian leader agrees to accept such a “state” under these conditions is nonexistent. What the Trump plan is offering the Palestinians is basically to take the existing reality – living under Israeli military occupation, with settlements spread in-between their cities, towns and villages – and to enshrine it by labeling it as a state.


The animating philosophy of the proposal is Might makes Right. Israel is stronger, and the Palestinians will never get rid of their Israeli overlords by force. So they should just give up. Forget about the ways they’ve been victimized, stop talking about having rights, and just take whatever the Israelis are willing to offer. Because if they don’t, the next offer will be worse. Israeli news anchor Eylon Levy said as much in the Washington Post:

[The plan] recognizes that any solution has to work with the fact that Israel has basically won, instead of denying it or attempting to reverse it.  … Throughout history, the victors have always dictated the ultimate terms of peace. Is that fair? Maybe. Is it how the world works in reality? Yes. Conflicts don’t end when both sides agree they are tired of fighting; they end when one side, the loser, recognizes it can’t keep up the battle and decides to get what it can before things get worse.

You’d think a culture that makes a shrine out of Masada would understand: At some point you just don’t care that the other side is stronger. You’re not expecting victory any more; you’re just trying to make your enemies respect you.


Coincidentally, Jared’s argument resembles the one Trump used to make to the contractors he shafted: It doesn’t matter who’s right. My lawyers can bankrupt you, so just take whatever I decide to pay you and be happy.


The announcement of the plan made a nice media-distraction event for Trump and for Bibi Netanyahu. Trump, of course, had an impeachment trial going on in the Senate, while Netanyahu is under indictment for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

Shortly after the announcement, Netanyahu’s administration said the cabinet would vote Sunday to annex the major Jewish settlements on the West Bank, the ones that just about every country but the US and Israel think violate international law. But that vote didn’t happen, and Kushner is suggesting that it be delayed until after the Israeli elections in March.


Saturday, the Arab League unanimously rejected the plan.


For what it’s worth, I keep repeating the same analysis of the conflict. I see four possible resolutions.

  1. Two states, Israel and a new state where Palestinians have actual territory and self-determination.
  2. One democratic state, in which Palestinians become citizens of Greater Israel, and may eventually become a voting majority.
  3. One Jewish ethno-state, where Palestinians are a subject population, possibly with a puppet-government to save face.
  4. One Jewish ethno-state, from which Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed.

Every year, (1) and (2) seem less and less likely. Getting to either one involves building trust — Northern Ireland could be a model — but both sides seem intent on building distrust instead. Partisans of either side can give you a long list of events proving that the other side can’t be trusted and doesn’t really want peace.

The status quo is basically (3), and Jared’s peace plan seems designed to kill off (1) and lock (3) in place. Even so, though, (3) seems unstable to me. I don’t think the Palestinians will ever accept it, and at some point I think the Israelis will decide that the Palestinians are ungovernable.

That leaves (4), which is what I think will eventually happen. It will be a traumatic thing for the Israeli people to see themselves do, which is why it will take another couple decades for them to work up a sufficient self-justification. But the extreme right wing of Israeli politics is there already, and that seems to me to be the direction everything is drifting.

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Comments

  • Chris  On February 3, 2020 at 11:24 am

    This issue is so messy. My starting position is to more or less agree with you, but I found these letters very thought-provoking: https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb02.html#item-2 (scroll down to “Alternate Perspectives on Israel, Dershowitz”)

    • alandesmet  On February 3, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      In what way do you find them thought-provoking? The two letters in that section seem entirely in line with Muder’s assessment: might makes right; take what we’re offering or else. The only difference appears to be Muder finds that behavior immoral, and the letter writers do not.

      • Chris  On February 3, 2020 at 2:35 pm

        Mostly the history.

      • Guest  On February 3, 2020 at 3:29 pm

        The history in those letters is, charitably, one-sided, Chris. Norman Finkelstein is someone who can give you perhaps a fuller historical perspective. He’s got tones of pieces and talks, but if you need a starting point, try:

        http://normanfinkelstein.com/2016/10/19/norman-finkelstein-prospects-hope-and-strategies-for-the-future-in-palestine/

      • alandesmet  On February 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm

        Good grief, Guest, I was about a quarter of the way through the Finkelstein piece and I wanted to smack him for being a jackass. There are some good bits in there, but as a fuller historical perspective it’s not helpful. It’s incredibly one-sided

      • Guest  On February 5, 2020 at 9:35 am

        Deeply sorry to have failed you here, Alan. However, if Chris is getting his Middle East perspective from hard-right Trump/Dershowitz apologists, then yes, I believe checking in on a hard-left perspective would give him a more complete view, or at least raise important questions. I’m guessing holding Obama’s feet to the fire makes him a jackass for you? He has a reputation for being pirckly, but in his defense, he’s trying to spotlight human rights abuses and the slaughter of innocents and children that so often get swept under the rug here in America. If you want a more dry look, I guess start with Wikipedia:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israeli%E2%80%93Palestinian_conflict

  • George Washington, Jr.  On February 3, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    This plan is nothing more than a sop to the kind of Trump supporters who will crow that “Trump achieved what no one else has” without actually reading it. Even leaving out the Palestinian reaction, it’s unacceptable on its face both to the Israeli right wing and American Evangelicals, both of whom would not accept a Palestinian state in any form. Perhaps some independent Democratic PAC can push this narrative; if done correctly, it could cost Trump support among his most fervent admirers.

    • Rickismom  On February 3, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      As an Israeli who votes right-wing, I believe that the Israelis WOULD accept a Palaestinian state in some form IF:
      1)Palaestinians stopped terror attacks, accepted Israel, started educating their children and adults towards peace
      2) Israel retained defensible boundries.

      • alandesmet  On February 3, 2020 at 3:48 pm

        As best I can tell, the settlements are the key dealbreaker on both sides. If Israel annexes (literally or defacto as it is now) the settlements, a new Palestinian state cannot have defensible borders, or even guaranteed freedom of movement within the state. But it seems that removing the settlements is an untouchable position in the Israeli government currently.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On February 3, 2020 at 4:24 pm

        If the Palestinian “state” the Israeli right wing would accept is one without its own military, I agree with Doug – it’s merely renaming the occupation by calling it a “state.” As for your first point, if the Palestinian leadership was interested in committing to those positions, they would have been involved in the plan negotiations, or would have entered into those negotiations directly with Israel, with no need for US involvement.

        At this point, the two-state solution will never work, because no iteration of an independent Palestinian state could be economically viable, regardless of how much was invested in it. More attention should be paid to President Rivlin’s proposal of a federation composed of self-governing cantons.

      • Brian  On February 3, 2020 at 5:08 pm

        “Palaestinians stopped terror attacks, accepted Israel, started educating their children and adults towards peace”

        What about Israel’s terror attacks. What the Palestinians are doing is defending their country against a racially motivated and genocidal invader.

        Until you and your ilk realising that, you’ll continue down the path to National Socialism.

      • George Washington, Jr.  On February 3, 2020 at 6:55 pm

        If the Palestinian leadership agreed to forswear violence, do you think the IDF would just roll in and obliterate them? They could do that right now if they wanted to. The goal of Palestinian violence isn’t to win their land back through brute force, since that would be impossible, but to provoke Israeli retaliation for the benefit of people like you.

      • Dale Moses  On February 3, 2020 at 9:12 pm

        More or less Palestinians tried that. But Israel continued settlements.

        Israel has power and Palestine does not. Just as it was not incumbent on black people to be peaceful during the civil rights movement it is not incumbent on Palestinians. How are they supposed to prevent terrorists when they are not allowed to have a military? With what organization will they enforce their side of bargain?

        The answer is that Israel has never allowed a Palestine to attempt to enforce it. They are not interested in it.

        The only peace is a positive peace with justice, not a negative peace without tension. Israel is within its power to provide that justice. Its their moral obligation to do so

      • George Washington, Jr.  On February 4, 2020 at 6:39 am

        The PA has a security force. Using a military force to suppress terrorism perpetrated by other Palestinians would be as inappropriate there as it would be anywhere else.

        Also, civil rights progress was furthered more by MLK’s non-violent tactics than the violence of extremist groups. When faced with an overwhelmingly superior force, non-violent resistance allows your side to retain the moral advantage.

  • Brian  On February 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    Why should the Palestinians trust Israel. Israel’s end goal vis a vis the Palestinians has been obvious since 1948, holocaust. They’ve already started it by making Gaza and the West Bank into modern day equivalents of the Polish ghettos.

    The next final solution will happen in Palestine, and it will happen to the, now largely muslim, descendants of the original jewish inhabitants of the area.

    • George Washington, Jr.  On February 3, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      Complete exaggeration. Any Palestinian could emigrate if conditions were so bad there. The reality is that you have a relatively small group of radicals who won’t be satisfied until every Jew in the world is dead (and if you don’t believe me, read the Hamas Charter), who are preventing peace by controlling the rest of the Palestinians through terror. There are no consequences to public discussion of accommodation in Israel, but try that in Gaza and see what happens.

      The simplistic view that the problem is 100% the fault of Israel, and if only they would disband the IDF, everyone would live in harmony is absurd. And yes, I’m aware that there are racists in Israel who want to obliterate the Palestinians. That doesn’t change the assessment that Israel is still a democracy that allows differing viewpoints.

  • George Washington, Jr.  On February 4, 2020 at 6:46 am

    One feature of the plan affects the “Triangle,” an area bordering the West Bank, and home to 300,000 Arab Israelis. The plan would shift the border to move the Triangle from Israel to the Palestinian state. However, the Arab residents of the Triangle prefer to remain in Israel by an overwhelming majority. If the Triangle is handed over, many would exercise their right as Israeli citizens to relocate elsewhere in Israel.

    https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israeli-Arabs-say-no-to-Palestine-616460

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