A Pathway to Palestine?

A Pathway to Palestine?


President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians was warmly received by the leaders of major Israeli political parties. But, predictably, it was rejected out of hand by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.  Whether his opposition can really block the plan remains to be seen.

At a meeting of the 22-member League of Arab States, Abbas got unanimous backing for the latest Palestinian rejection of the possibility of an independent Palestinian State. The Arab League’s rejection can be seen as largely symbolic in view of some positive signs that there might be a pathway to a two-state solution regardless of whether Abbas supports it at first.

In the past, Abbas and his infamous predecessor, Yasser Arafat, would dangle their “support” of a two-state solution before the world, only to withdraw it at the last minute like Lucy yanking the football from Charlie Brown. But today’s political and diplomatic landscape has radically changed. 

Consider these developments:

• On the very week that the Arab League backed the Abbas rejection, a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met in Saudi Arabia to discuss greater cooperation. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman have decided they have nothing to fear from Israel and share a common concern about the radical regime in Iran.

These pro-Western nations appear no longer willing to let the weak Abbas block a path to open and expanded cooperation with Israel.

•  A very upbeat op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet Jewish prisoner of conscience who has served in five Israeli Cabinets, and Gil Troy, a respected scholar on the faculty of McGill University, pointed out that the proposal “would bypass the corrupt and dictatorial leaders who have stalled the process since 1993.”  

That was the year that the Oslo Accords Declaration of Principle was signed on the White House lawn. The Oslo plan was intended to result in the Jewish State of Israel living side by side with an Arab State of Palestine in peace and security. But Arafat, and later Abbas, chose rejection over reconciliation.

The Trump plan, developed by his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, differs from all previous plans in that it does not give the Palestinian “leadership” veto power to kill the deal. All three major Israeli parties support the deal, including the hard-line Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Blue and White Party of Benny Gantz, and the idea of recognizing parts of the West Bank areas as a nascent state in the newly proposed map is gaining traction.

Many obstacles remain, of course, especially Abbas’  persistent rejection. But signs that others are growing weary of Palestinian obstruction are encouraging. 

If Abbas or a more courageous and enlightened Palestinian leader should emerge to take the lead, the long-sought goal of Israeli-Palestinian peace could finally be achieved.