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Trump’s Mideast Plan Represents a Deep Paradigm Shift. What Should Israel Do Next?

17 9 24
21.02.2020

President Donald Trump’s peace plan represents a deep paradigm shift from every prior attempt since 1993 – most of which I was actively involved in – to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a plan that could influence critical elements of Israel’s national security, it deserves to be the subject of public deliberation going beyond the tumult of an election campaign.

The paradigm that guided Israel in prior negotiations was that this is a conflict between two national movements with contradictory claims and historical narratives over the same slice of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. One cannot ignore the demographic reality, nor should one assume that the Palestinians will throw away their own narrative. Therefore, if Israel wishes to ensure its future as a Jewish and democratic state, it should strive to create a new reality – one mutually agreed-upon, not imposed – based on political separation and a division of the West Bank.

This new reality has to overcome the historical narratives, strike a balance between Israel’s critical security needs and Palestinian political aspirations, and bring about an end of conflict. Various Israeli prime ministers have struck their desirable balance on various points differently than each other, yet all of them (including Benjamin Netanyahu) entered negotiations on the basis of this paradigm.

Now, for the first time, in consultation with Israel, the United States is presenting a detailed plan with a map to fully resolve all the core issues – and it comes down unequivocally on the side of the Jewish national movement’s historical narrative. It definitively decides not only the issue of the needs of each party to the agreement, but also the question of who is right. It addresses not only issues created by the 1967 Six-Day War (the “'67 file”) but also those emerging from the 1948 War (the “'48 file”), including reconsideration of the 1949 armistice lines. It reconfigures both the post-1948 and post-1967 territories and, as a historical correction, proposes (theoretically) that some areas inhabited by Arab-Israeli citizens (the “Triangle”) be transferred to the new Palestinian state.

The Trump administration argues that the old paradigm has failed and, therefore, a new paradigm is required. Indeed, to the best of my judgment, we were never really close to a breakthrough that would lead to a final-status agreement; we never fully succeeded in bridging the gaps on even one of the core issues.

Notenough time has passed to analyze why that occurred. Regardless, after more than 25 years of failure, we’ve now reached the point where I cannot see the parties having any chance to merge their minimum demands into an agreement that would resolve the core issues and end the conflict and all mutual claims. Meanwhile, both sides have moved even farther........

© Haaretz