We are encouraged by the emerging news about the efforts of President Trump’s Mideast emissaries. It seems the Trump administration continues to view the so-called two-state solution – i.e., an independent Palestinian state adjacent to Israel – as just one approach to resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and would not be averse to a regional approach to peace that would bypass the issue of Palestinian statehood.
President Trump said back in February that he was prepared to go along with anything both sides agree to. It appears Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are now emphasizing this with PA President Mahmoud Abbas – and it’s being underscored by, of all places, the State Department, long a citadel of anti-Israel sentiment.
Thus, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said last week, “We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. That’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it.”
This is a remarkable statement in a significant respect. It spells out the notion that the U.S. has no stake in a particular outcome and that preferring one approach over another is to show “bias.” The point is clear. There will be no undermining of the leverage Israel has by virtue of its vast military and economic superiority over the Palestinians.
Understandably, Mr. Abbas is not taking this well and appears to be beginning to realize that the Obama presidency is really history and that he no longer has an interlocutor prepared to push Israel to meet Palestinian demands.
Indeed, although Mr. Abbas reportedly warned the Trump team that if the U.S. doesn’t return to championing the two-state negotiating track he will resume the pursuit of Palestinian statehood in the UN and other international organizations, the PA president has thus far shown no inclination to act on the threat.
We’ve long held that when the Palestinians come to believe they will have to deal directly with Israel rather than count on any outside interference, prospects for a realistic peace agreement will be greatly enhanced.
This dose of realism may well be the most important contribution to peace the Trump Mideast diplomatic team can make.