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Is Trump Right About Middle-East Peace?

Like US presidents before him, Donald Trump may well fail to secure an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. But by proposing an agreement instead of merely trying to broker one between the two sides, he could yet establish a model for his successors to follow.

PARIS – By withdrawing American troops from northern Syria, US President Donald Trump has once again signaled that his administration recognizes only two national interests in the Middle East: containment of Iran and Israel’s security.

Regarding the former, the United States recently sent more troops to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional adversary. As for the latter, Trump has repeatedly said that he will present a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Because such an initiative could become a factor in the 2020 US presidential election campaign, Trump will have to decide soon whether to fulfill this commitment once a new Israeli government takes office following the country’s parliamentary election last month.

Trump has tasked his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with developing a detailed peace plan. While that represents a departure from previous US diplomatic efforts, which had always aimed to lead Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a peace treaty between themselves under American auspices, this new approach is not necessarily a bad idea, because both sides seem incapable of moving forward on their own. The Palestinian Authority – disavowed at the ballot box in Gaza in 2006, run by aging leaders, and undermined by corruption – has lost the legitimacy that it would need to make concessions. Israel, meanwhile, has drifted so far to the right that no government could propose to the Knesset a peace plan acceptable to both sides.

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