The unworkable Trump plan for a patchwork Palestinian state between Israel and the Jordan River could have been responded to with a counter proposal by the Palestinian Authority, as Jarod Kushner suggested. But that did not happen. The Palestinian Authority is soured on America.
Various substitute mediators have been proposed, Russia, the U.N. and so on.
Here’s a better idea. The Palestinians and Israelis should meet jowl to jowl, with no mediator to be sung to. Each side facing the other–as, for example, happened with Israel and the Sudan, which were originally much more virulently opposed to each other—would be forced to directly see that the other and its passionate desires must be addressed. Grandstanding would be impossible because there would be no audience for it, no mediator, to be played to in an attempt to swing it to one side or the other. Compromise would be unavoidable, the alternative being disaster.
Israeli Arabs refused at the start of Trump’s proposed solution to have their territory transferred to a proposed Palestine in exchange for parts of the West Bank being declared part of Israel. That is instructive. Most Arabs in Israel want to live there and should be free to stay, and Jews in Palestine should be free to keep living there. The idea of a Juden Rein Palestine should have been recognized as repugnant long ago. It is not necessary for the parts of the West Bank on which Jewish people live to become part of Israel. Jews can live there as citizens of Israel subject to the new state of Palestine’s negotiated laws. Once an agreement is reached, beyond the political and social value, the Israeli and Palestinian economies will intersect, bringing better economic lives and services to the people on both sides.
Gaza will remain a problem, but a problem the states can address together. A revolt by the everyday people of Gaza, seeing prosperity across the border, could be supported by Israel and Palestine, rendering the forces now in control thorns in a united Palestine rather than rulers of an adversarial territory.
All of the above are problems that must be faced, but taken up one at a time, between former opponents but now negotiators of good will, with no one to speak to but the other side, they are soluble. At the heart of the Middle East, there can be peace.