US President Donald Trump put forward a new Middle East Framework called “Peace to Prosperity” (P2P). It was the first Middle East framework offered since the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 (API). The API was, not surprisingly, heavily biased towards the Palestinian Arabs’ demands and not Israeli security. It did not advance peace but rather ushered wars from Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, a war from Lebanon in 2006 and a “stabbing intifada” from the West Bank in 2015.
Unlike the API, Trump’s P2P plan was focused on Israel’s security (and Palestinians’ prosperity), and the Palestinian Authority considered it a non-starter before they even saw it. The acting-President of the PA Mahmoud Abbas has refused to even entertain discussing it.
That is a mistake.
The underlying issue of Israel’s security manifests itself in the plan in a few ways, most notably, that all Palestinian border crossings must be managed by Israel and that a future State of Palestine must be demilitarized. If the PA were to refuse to accept those two principles, there is indeed nothing to discuss regarding any of the other key items for Palestinians such as land, refugees and Jerusalem.
However, if Abbas accedes to those two Israeli security points, he will likely be able to gain much on the other issues that matter to him and to the Palestinians.
Consider the land.
The P2P plan has Israel assuming sections of the West Bank including the entirety of the Jordan Valley. It leaves the Palestinian territory as a patchwork of parcels, with the towns in which Jews reside being annexed by Israel dotted, in between.
However, the Palestinians might be able to obtain almost the entirety of the West Bank if it grants Palestinian citizenship to all of the inhabitants of the Jewish towns. This action would be much like the Jewish State’s in 1948 when it granted Israeli citizenship to all of the Arabs. The Jews would make up a much smaller percentage of Palestine than Arabs’ in Israel today.
As the border would be controlled by Israel, only a sliver of land between Palestine and Jordan would be required to be Israeli instead of the whole Jordan Valley, much like the plan assumes Israel having a thin sliver of land buffering Palestinian territory in the Negev and Egypt. The net result would be the Palestinians gaining almost the entirety of the West Bank other than a sliver along the Jordan River.
The willingness to accept Jewish citizens into Palestine might also open a window for Israel to accept many Arab refugees into Israel, rather than just giving them compensation as mapped under the P2P plan. A new Arab spirit of coexistence might stimulate Israel to take as many as 50,000 Arab refugees per year for a number of years, with the balance receiving compensation and settling in a new Palestinian State.
The capital of a Palestinian State could also become more dynamic, with Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem becoming parts of a Palestinian capital.
In short, Palestinians can gain a lot on all of their key negotiating points by working off of the Trump peace initiative if they endorse coexistence and welcome Jews into a new state. In contrast, the current path of continued demonization of Israel and the denial of Jewish history and rights will only further cement the stagnation for Palestinians in regards to both peace and prosperity.
Palestinians should call the Israeli bluff, and see if hundreds of thousands of Jews are willing to live as a minority in Palestine. If the Israelis balk, then the BDS movement will likely advance globally. However, if the Israelis endorse the principle, Israel will be blocked from annexing any land (pro-Arab), while United Nations Resolution 2334 will be deemed moot and the global BDS movement will come to an end (pro-Israel).
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