Mohammad Shtayyeh is the latest Palestinian Authority official to declare that President Donald Trump’s expected peace plan will be rejected by the PA. Such declarations have also come from Mahmood Abbas and others, while in each case, the US and Israeli responses have been muted. They don’t seem to care. Why is that?
Could it be because they know that the proposed deal will be so good for the Palestinians that the PA will feel compelled to backtrack and support the deal? Of course not, because whatever the deal will be, it won’t be as good for the Palestinians as what Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered at the Camp David Summit in 2000 under the supervision of US President Bill Clinton. As we know, that deal was rejected out of hand by the PA without even a counter-offer.
The other possibility is that the US, Israel, some Arab countries, and probably European countries, know that the deal will not require PA approval because it will be a regional deal that involves the dissolution of the Oslo Accords and the PA. Washington Post columnists Anne Gearan and Souad Mekhennet already speculated that the plan will do away with the concept of a Palestinian state.
Declaring Olso and the Palestinian state dead will not resolve the conflict, however, unless something is done to end three factors of instability:
- The presence of millions of so-called Palestinian refugees in Arab countries.
- The unresolved status of Judea and Samaria which Israel has not yet annexed and where Palestinians live without Israeli citizenship under a situation that most of the world sees as an unacceptable Israeli occupation.
- The control of Gaza by a terrorist organization that has no interest in ever making peace with Israel and that constantly threatens Israel’s southern cities and occasionally its larger cities.
If the Trump plan has any chance of success, it would have to include at least some variations of the following:
- Integration of the Palestinian refugees as full citizens in the Arab countries where they reside.
- Financial incentives to Palestinian refugees to allow them to emigrate and lose their refugee status.
- The abolition of the UNRWA, the UN agency that ensures that Palestinians maintain their refugee status until the end of times.
- Annexation by Israel of some of Judea and Samaria, and annexation by Jordan of the rest.
- Annexation of Gaza by Egypt. An alternative would be for Israel and Egypt to continue their blockade of Gaza until the end of times or until Gazans have a peaceful government, whichever comes first. If this is the only instability left in the conflict, it will likely be manageable.
None of this should be a surprise to PA officials, which would explain why they rejected the deal before it is even announced. In the end, however, they can blame no one but themselves.
The Palestinian leadership has had several opportunities to see the creation of an independent Palestinian state, but they always demanded more, and instead of pursuing a real plan to get there, they relied on the phony narrative that Palestine has long existed while Israel is a colonialist invention, when in fact the reverse is true. Israelis, and anyone else who is honest with themselves, have come to realize that the Palestinian leadership would never accept anything short of the disappearance of the Jewish state. History will remember the Palestinian leadership as corrupt, deceitful, and eventually ineffectual.
For those of us who dreamed of the two-state solution – two states, one Jewish and one Arab, living side by side in peace – the Trump plan will not be a victory. It will be a relief that the dream that became a nightmare will finally be over, and that Jews and Palestinians will finally be able to live their lives without the constant threat of terrorism and war. It will be as if an old and dear uncle died following many years of suffering. May God have mercy upon his soul.