January 29, 2020

Mideast Peace Plan

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On Tuesday, President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan. White House

See our prior coverage of Israeli settlements here. The Flip Side

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From the Left

The left is critical of the plan, arguing that it is biased towards Israel and thus unlikely to gain Palestinian support.

“Instead of coming up with a plan that would see [the settlers in the West Bank] relocated or finding some other solution, Kushner’s plan just takes the huge chunk of land where most of the settlements are located and gives it to Israel. In return, Palestinians get some pockets of land far away in the desert on the border with Egypt and not much else… the proposal reveals the fundamental problem at the heart of the plan itself: the administration’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s continued illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.”
Alex Ward, Vox

Under the plan, “The Palestinian ‘state’ would lack many conventional aspects of sovereignty, including control over its borders, airspace, territorial waters and international relations. Israel would retain ‘overriding security responsibility,’ including the right to send its own forces into Palestinian territory. [Over ten thousand] Israelis would go on living in settlements inside the new Arab state and would be governed by Israel. And Israel would have full sovereignty over Jerusalem, except for a few areas already outside the city’s security barrier… Those who actually favor [a two-state resolution], as we do, will have to hope that the remainder of the plan is soon forgotten. Otherwise, it may provide a new set of benchmarks that will make peace impossible and from which future Israeli and U.S. governments will find it hard to retreat.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“Another condition for statehood is the creation of a ‘a governing system with a constitution or another system for establishing the rule of law that provides for freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, protections for religious freedom and for religious minorities to observe their faith, uniform and fair enforcement of law and contractual rights, due process under law, and an independent judiciary’…

“In other words, to become recognized as a sovereign state, the Palestinians will have to achieve levels of governance achieved by no country in the Middle East other than Israel itself. None of America’s Arab allies — from Egypt to Saudi Arabia — meet these criteria. But while the promise of Palestinian statehood is contingent on fantastic conditions, the plan sets no conditions for allowing Israel to annex the Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu can do that tomorrow — and very well may… What was unveiled on Tuesday was a PR campaign, not a peace plan.”
Max Boot, Washington Post

“I’m quite sure the White House knew that this plan would be immediately dismissed by the Palestinians. So why bother? There are a couple of reasons. First, Trump said he was going to come up with a peace plan and gave the task to his son-in-law; if nothing else, he can say that he followed through. Second, by coming up with something so incredibly skewed toward the interests of Israel, he can demonstrate to domestic constituencies — particularly evangelical Christians, many of whom are devoted to a right-wing vision of Israel’s future in which Palestinian rights are ignored — that he continues to be on their side… And finally, the inevitable rejection of the plan by the Palestinians can be used as an excuse to continue denying them self-determination. ‘See, we offered you a peace plan,’ Trump and Netanyahu will say, ‘and you didn’t want it! It’s clear you aren’t ready for self-determination.’ And nothing will change.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“The timing gives the game away. Trump is facing impeachment, and Netanyahu is facing indictment, and both of them are relying on reelection to avoid serious legal threats… Trump got to pose as a peace-making statesman and pander to his evangelical base. And Netanyahu got to pose as the man who could deliver the occupied territories and annexation at last to Israeli voters.”
Hussein Ibish, Bloomberg

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right applauds the plan, arguing that it offers realistic proposals that will necessarily be part of any deal.

From the Right

The right applauds the plan, arguing that it offers realistic proposals that will necessarily be part of any deal.

“Critics are already indicting the Trump plan for not meeting all Palestinians demands. That is certainly true, but the plan also does not meet all Israeli demands. It is a compromise, requiring concessions from both sides… Hundreds of groups seek statehood, and some – like the Kurds – seem to deserve it. But almost none get it… The Palestinians are perhaps the only national independence movement in the modern era that has ever rejected a genuine offer of internationally recognized statehood, even if it falls short of all the territory they had sought.”
Eugene Kontorovich, Fox News

“Far from bowing to the demands of Israel’s settlers, the plan provides for a four-year settlement freeze on construction in the West Bank, and settler groups are criticizing it. More important, the plan gives a political boost to the two-state solution that Mr. Netanyahu’s base has been abandoning. It also anticipates a high-speed rail link between Gaza and the West Bank that is sure to raise objections from Israeli security hawks…

“The recognition of some of Israel’s territorial expansion since 1967 simply reflects changes in political realities as the Palestinians rejected peace deal after peace deal. No one serious in Israel expects the major settlement blocks to be demolished. Meanwhile, Israel has unprecedented support from the Gulf Arab states, which are united with Israel against Iran and have grown tired of Palestinian rejectionism.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Anyone who’s followed this issue understands the historic significance of Bahrain, UAE, and Oman sending envoys to White House unveiling of Trump’s peace deal. Arab nations are coming to terms with the reality of the Jewish State in ways that Americans progressives have not…

“No major Israeli party on either the right or the left is going to agree to a right of return, a return to pre-1967 lines, or a surrender of Jerusalem. In the past, Palestinian negotiators, who have never once crafted a peace plan of their own — or any deal that wasn’t contingent on the complete capitulation of Israel — sat back and rejected one concession after the next. They offered ever-growing lists of grievances while American leaders tried to pacify them. It’s about time someone injected a dose of this reality into this situation. Trump’s plan allows Palestinians to have a state in the world that exists. Or not.”
David Harsanyi, National Review

“Three times — twice in 2000 and once in 2008 — Israel offered Palestinians a state in exchange for a declaration of peace. What’s more, in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory of Gaza and left it to the Gazans to rule themselves. The Palestinians met both the offers and the withdrawal with multiple wars… the United States is no longer demanding that Israel place itself in existential jeopardy by giving up vital security territory alongside the Jordan River — or that it redefine its own Zionist cause by unilaterally surrendering part of Jerusalem.”
John Podhoretz, New York Post

The freeze on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank “is a significant concession that will aggravate the Israeli hard-right. Muslims would also be assured of access to the al Aqsa Mosque under continuing Jordanian-led custodianship. And Trump is promising that Palestinian-controlled territory will double in size under this deal…

“On the Israeli side, the Jewish state will gain control over the Jordan River valley: a prerequisite of Israel's long-term security strategy. In return for land swaps, Israel would also receive sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank. This was always going to be a part of any deal, and everyone who cares to be honest knows it.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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