Today, there are still some 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in various areas. Most of them have spent generations struggling with inferior living conditions. On the other side, Israeli citizens have endured countless terrorist tragedies and continue to live nervously.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tough problem that has lasted over 70 years and, year after year, the global community pours effort into it. U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed a new plan that seems to ignore that context.
In theory, it sets up a Palestinian state and heralds a “two-state solution,” where the Palestinian state coexists with Israel. But in reality, it does not permit the return of refugees and its contents blatantly support Israel.
Jerusalem, which both sides claim, is made the capital of Israel. Regions with Christian and Muslim holy sites that were annexed by force are also included. The majority of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are also recognized as Israeli land.
These are crazy ideas that trample international agreements. The U.N. Security Council has demanded in a resolution that Israel evacuate the occupied territories. It has been repeatedly pointed out that the expansion of settlements violates international law. It is natural for the U.N. secretary-general to proclaim that he will effectively disregard this proposal.
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the autonomous Palestinian government, immediately refused to accept. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems prepared to annex a portion of the settlements through a cabinet resolution.* If he forces a one-sided territorial transfer, the path to peace in the Middle East will decisively lengthen.
Despite the twists and turns throughout successive American administrations, the country has taken great pains to strike a diplomatic balance as a mediator. But in the past three years, the Trump administration has flung aside impartiality. It has moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and stopped donations to the U.N. organization that supports Palestinian refugees.
In the background, it appears that Trump is speculating about the U.S. presidential election this fall. Evangelical Christians, who make up part of his base, support Israel. His good friend Netanyahu is being indicted for corruption ahead of general elections in March, so this could also be covering fire for him.
There are no signs that Trump has reflected on how much the use of diplomacy as an election strategy has damaged trust in America.
Protests are being held in the Palestinian territories. There are fears of a clash with the Israeli army. The extremist Islamic State group has also called for attacks.
There are also fears that the region’s divisions will deepen, as Arab countries friendly to America, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, praise the proposal, while Turkey and Iran strengthen their criticisms.
Rather than resolving a conflict, the plan only deepens the Middle East’s turmoil. By no means can this be called a “Middle East peace plan.”