Shadi Hamid: The Israeli-Palestinian dispute is only partly about land
Speaking to The New York Times, Middle East experts were derisory about the plan’s prospects. Tamara Cofman Wittes believes offering to buy Palestinian acceptance of an unstated political outcome “may sour the environment for any political plan.” Aaron David Miller argued that this isn’t a novel approach, the paper wrote: “If the United States could have bought peace in the Middle East through economic development, he said, it would have done so.” Robert Satloff concluded that “the only way to protect the long-term viability of the best aspects of the Kushner plan is to kill the plan.”
Nor does the foremost expert on prospects for Middle East peace, Jordan’s King Abdullah, consider it viable. His view is that “the only acceptable peace will be a comprehensive and lasting peace based on a two-state solution, leading to an independent Palestinian state on 4 June 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.” That is evidently not the rabbit Kushner intends to pull out of his hat.
Kushner seems to think the parties most directly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute these 70 years fail to understand what they’re talking about. “If you say ‘two states,’ it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to Palestinians, and we said, ‘Let’s just not say it,’” Kushner recently revealed. Kushner’s magic trick apparently relies on a sleight of hand that will use prosperity as a shiny object to distract Palestinians while their political aspirations are swept away.
The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan sounds more like Chinese foreign policy than it does American foreign policy. American policy invokes the principle our Founders enshrined in our culture: that people have inherent rights and loan them in limited ways to governments for agreed purposes. We fail often to uphold this principle, but it is a genuine departure for an American administration not to even acknowledge it.
Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller: Trump is reinventing the U.S. approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
Moreover, other nations are less wary of our power because of our values. By tapping into the universal aspiration for human dignity and political liberty, American policy has been cheaper and easier to advance, because it works with the grain of positive political change. Our successes are seen as the advancement of a cause, not just the advancement of our interests.
China’s policy, domestic and foreign, is based on the premise that the government will create conditions for prosperity, and in return people must forsake political liberty. They prioritize “an emphasis on economic rights over individual political rights in the development of global norms,” as Michael Swaine has argued, and want an international “community of common destiny for mankind” on Chinese terms.