Trump's Israel-Palestine Plan is a patchwork of failed attempts
Looking for something positive happening in Turkey lately? Well, Wikipedia is back as of January 2020. It was shameful that for years we had to use workarounds to use the encyclopedia of the digital age. Thanks to the Constitutional Court in Ankara, it is now easier to search for information in Turkey.
I realized how much of a relief this was when browsing through past iterations of what used to be called plans for “Middle East Peace,” by which we all meant settlements for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The issue isn’t as central as it once was, of course, and as we have seen this week, is taken much less seriously. The conceptual map put forward in the “Deal of the Century” still reminded me of older days, but not in a good way.
Specifically, it made me think of the Allon Plan, which, Wikipedia will tell you, “was a plan to partition the West Bank between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, create a Druze state in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and return most of the Sinai Peninsula to Arab control. The plan was drafted by Israeli Minister Yigal Allon shortly after the Six-Day War in June 1967.” So very much like the present deal, the Allon Plan was concocted on one side of the conflict only.
Allow me to continue from Wikipedia directly: “The broad aim of the plan was to annex most of the Jordan Valley from the river to the eastern slopes of the West Bank hill ridge, East Jerusalem, and the Etzion bloc, to Israel. The remaining parts of the West Bank, containing most of the Palestinian population, were to become Palestinian autonomous territory, or would return to Jordan, including a corridor to Jordan through Jericho. The Jordanian King Hussein rejected the plan.” Allon put the plan forward in 1968, right after the Six-Day war, mind you.
So Geoffrey Aronson appears to be right when he noted in the American Conservative that “There are no American ideas in the ‘deal of the century’ but rather those that define the debate in Israel about how to best accommodate Israel’s territorial and demographic interests in territories it captured almost 50 years ago.”
The Trump plan also has elements of a report that the Rand Corporation published back in 2005, entitled “The Arc: A formal Structure of Palestinian State.” This was all about bridges, underground tunnels and other technical workarounds to connect the fragmented pieces of Palestinian territory. This would result in a total separation of the interlaced Israeli-Palestinian territories.
So this is the old Allon plan, which seeks to secure Israeli gains, plus “the Arc,” which tries to alleviate Palestinian losses with creative infrastructure. This means that President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” puts the Palestinian resistance back to square one. There is a striking asymmetry here. The Israeli policy of “creating facts on the ground” in the last 50 years has been highly rewarded. Yet the Palestinian gains of the last 50 years have totally been forgotten.
The tone of the White House matches the plan. In recent days, first son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is handling the file, talked about how Palestinians had a “perfect track record of blowing every opportunity they’ve had” and how, in the extremely likely scenario that they wouldn’t take the deal, they were “going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” We all in the region will take note of this unconcealed contempt towards those who have been deprived of their home and hearth.
Foreign policy has become domestic policy everywhere now. In countries like Israel and Turkey, this is to be expected, since we are packed into crowded spaces with difficult neighbors. The U.S. which enjoys the protection of the oceans and unmatched economic and military power, has no such excuse. If it wants to remain the preeminent power in the world, it needs to do better, much, much better.