From the Golan to the West Bank

I’m not persuaded at all that Trump’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan is detrimental to his own peace plan (see the argument here). In fact, the opposite is true: it salvages the plan.

Everyone thought the plan would be dead on arrival anyway. The Palestinians would say “no,” and that would be that. Now Trump has revealed the price of a “no.” Assad père said “no,” thinking the Golan was like some sort of escrow account being held indefinitely for Syria. Well, now it’s off the table. If you say “no,” Trump is warning, you don’t get more later, you get less or maybe nothing.

By this move, the US is telling the Palestinians: Sure, say “no” to our plan. But the next step isn’t a better offer. It might be US recognition of Israeli annexation of part of the West Bank. If you think we won’t do it, just look at the Golan. And read Trump’s tweet carefully: “After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” Substitute “West Bank” for “Golan Heights,” and you wouldn’t have to change another word.

This kind of hardball is probably the only way to disrupt the (totally irrational) mindset of Palestinians that time is on their side—a mindset artificially kept on life support by decades of status-quo diplomacy. It probably won’t work, because mindsets take a long time to change. But if it fails, it won’t be spectacular like the failures of the past, and it might finally get Palestinians to see their predicament as it is.

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