The Weekend Politics Thread Draws a Line (Doesn’t Matter Where)

Monty: There are no national elections this weekend, so I need to bring it home and talk about what’s going on (or not going on) in my country. I know we have an election coming up, but since quitting commenting in the PT for my own sanity, these headers are the only place where I can talk about The Trump Peace Plan.

Anna: Listen I have been waiting to hear your take on this since I read about it but WHEW BOY.

I don’t want to pretend I have an ounce of expertise on the subject but reading the plan…I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem that good? Like the geography and logistics seem poorly thought out. 

Monty: You don’t know how right you are.

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So here’s a map of the plan. Basically, Israel would withdraw some settlements in the West Bank to make the Palestinian Authority more contiguous. But it would still make up a collection of four enclaves, and Israel would annex the remainder of the settlements. Whether or not you actually care about mutual land swaps, dear God, look at this! No country in the world looks like this. It reminds me of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Anna: it reminds me of Swiss cheese.

Monty: Experts have already pointed out that parts of this plan make no geographic sense. Notice that meter-wide corridor running between that Gaza Strip and two patches of empty desert, along (but not touching) the Egyptian border. In other areas, the Kush has proposed running a national border through individual villages. Not just Jerusalem, but small habitations of fewer than 10,000 people. No peace plan before has suggested such a thing.

Anna: this family has one move, and it’s shitty walls.

Monty: Okay, that’s where this gets interesting, because we already have a wall, and this plan completely ignores where it is too.

From where I stand, this isn’t really a good deal for Israel either. The IDF has long complained that isolated settlement blocs are an impediment to national security. Well, this plan maintains a lot of those pene-enclaves, and in addition holds Israel responsible for the PA’s security, economy, international relations and infrastructure on a massive scale, which is no different from where we are now. In certain ways, it’s putting more responsibility on us with no real benefit. There’s a goddamn 40-mile tunnel in this plan.

Anna: I’ve heard this is to show Palestine it’s a start and they can negotiate for a better deal but does anyone on this planet trust the current people in charge of making these deals to make them well?

Monty: Interestingly, this plan is more generous toward the Palestinians than Netanyahu’s stated policy goals or his Likud Party’s current platform. Throughout the latest iteration of our campaign season (2 March will be our third election in eleven months after two hung Knessets), Netanyahu has proposed a unilateral annexation of the central Jordan Valley, east of Jerusalem, with Jericho remaining as a PA enclave. This plan pretty much kills that idea, but it also attempts to make Bibi look more reasonable for accepting it.

Anna: I’m super curious how much input Kushner took from others. Because it just seems like they were reeeeal close buddies with Bibi and this plan came out mid impeachments and investigations.

Monty: Certainly when the plan leaked at the beginning of this week, left- and centre-leaning Israeli policy experts dismissed it out of hand as a form of election interference, and this really does seem to be primarily concerned with assisting Netanyahu in the coming elections. At the same time, if the Trump administration was so confident in Netanyahu, they wouldn’t have invited opposition leader Benny Gantz (Blue & White) to attend the unveiling of the plan.

Gantz is publicly supportive of the plan, but has given indications that he opposes it. He is, after all, former head of the army (which is more left-leaning) as well as leader of the centre-left faction within his party.

Anna: How are people over there reacting to the plan? Is the media coverage different than the general population?

Monty: Since the rollout of the plan, there have been five opinion polls, showing 50-67% of Israelis in favor of the plan, with 47-55% supporting implementation of the plan before election day on 2 March, whether or not the Palestinian Authority agrees to it (which they won’t).

Anna: Are different parties using this to gain leverage with all the lack of government going on over there?

Monty: Not really. At least not successfully. In these same polls, a majority of people still broadly oppose allowing Netanyahu to remain in office during his trial. The needle hasn’t moved at all. And that’s still the central issue of the election.

Monty: Well, there are two things to keep in mind. One, the Palestinian leadership has rejected every plan for statehood over the past century, all of which were more “real” than this, usually for short-term political gain by specific leaders. So the Israeli public are understandably skeptical that any plan would be accepted by said leaders. But people still support the idea of implementing it unilaterally.

On the other hand, 61% of respondents polled do not believe this plan will bring peace. This doesn’t resolve any of the four core issues at the heart of the conflict for both sides: borders, security, the status of Jerusalem, and the status of refugees. In fact, by giving Israel the green light to annex major settlement blocs, it’s ruling out a permanent solution in favor of a “permanently temporary” one in which Israel gets neither peace nor freedom from the logistical burden of the present occupation.

Anna: *starts banging head on a wall*

Monty: Kushner et. al. seem convinced that reducing Palestinian unemployment (with a little help from his Gulf state buddies) will end Palestinian national aspirations, which is weird for an administration this enamored of right-wing ultranationalism. But did you expect consistency?

As ever, be respectful of each other, observe the Avocado’s house rules, and do not threaten Mayor McSquirrel.