Trump’s plan lends American support in favour of Israel

Palestinians and Israelis know from decades of history that past peace initiatives are strewn with turbulence, division and bloodshed.

But the Oslo Accords of the 1990s also left a structure in place, however fragile, that was meant to become the basis for a permanent peace – the so-called “two-state solution”.

It calls for an independent Palestinian state made up of the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside a secure state of Israel along the territorial lines shown on the map before the 1967 Middle East war.

US President Donald Trump appeared to want to shake up the paradigm – claiming that it has failed for over two decades to achieve peace.

He chose instead to follow a different logic of deal-making – one that ultimately lends American support overwhelmingly in favour of Israel, the more powerful partner, and formalises changed facts on the ground: Israel’s building of Jewish settlements over four decades in the West Bank.

Even in the lead-up to Mr Trump’s announcement, such a shift by the superpower sponsor of peace was causing consternation for many in the region.

The Trump plan prioritises Israel’s security needs when it comes to the allocation of territory. It would recognise all the settlements in the West Bank as an official part of Israel.

The Trump document says applying Israeli sovereignty to the settlements would be compensated by land swaps to Palestinians. It would also recognise Israeli sovereignty over the strategically important Jordan Valley, a key swathe of land in the West Bank important for agriculture running along the border with neighbouring Jordan.

This, said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House, recognises that “Israel must have sovereignty in places that enable Israel to defend itself by itself”. He described the proposals, including applying Israeli law to the settlements, as the “opportunity of the century” for Israel.

But Palestinians say the move will entrench apartheid.

Many here are now reflecting on a surprising spectacle in the White House – a US president celebrating the prospects of a deal in which only one side was present. It is what led the Palestinians to say President Trump is “clapping with one hand”.

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