Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose

Things rarely go well for those who try to live history backward.

Comments: 291

  1. It's an opening offer, no less unrealistic than the current Palestinian position of full right of return and return to pre 1967 borders. The breakthrough that is needed is for Israelis to genuinely believe Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist AS A JEWISH STATE. Should that day ever come, then figuring out borders will reduce to mere detail, one that can be readily solved.

  2. @Corey R. Shanus Equally important is that the Palestinians genuinely believe Israel accept that they are humans who have human rights. Until that day comes, this is an intractable situation.

  3. @Corey R. Shanus 'Readily solved' meaning all for Israel and nothing for the Palestinians? That's the deal already on the table, so what do the Palestinians gain by prostrating themselves to Israel?

  4. It was the Palestinian leaders choice not to participate in the talks. Perhaps they felt that Israel would get all they wanted, but you can't argue with history: with each battle they end up with less. The money offered to get their state going is not small change. Maybe it's time for the Palestinian people to start living, working and focusing on a future with peace and prosperity.

  5. @gmt I recently returned from a 2-week nondenominational tour of Israel and Jordan. Both beautiful countries with mostly friendly folks. It was an educational tour with lectures from all 3 religions and 1 Palestinian Christian, who told us that the other Palestinians treated them very badly. However, the take-away for me after listening to the lecturers was that nobody really liked the Palestinians. I found that to be an eye-opener and very surprising. It was a fabulous trip and I enjoyed every wonderful minute of it! Including the food, my 2 mile camel ride(!) in Wadi Rum, floating in the Dead Sea (Jordanian side) and much more. In Israel, visiting Masada was most moving and in Jordan, Petra, of course.

  6. The conclusion is quite the opposite. The Palestinians have won big. They may be miserable and bad for their own well-being, but they have managed to turn the world towards greater security and authoritarian leaders. Netanyahu is prime minister because they have sacrificed everything to keep up the violence. Trump in some respect also exists for the same reason. Evolutionary psychology research suggests that groups of males use mechanisms like identity fusion to attain military feats that are otherwise impossible. There is no greater plan, men are just able to do this, as with soccer teams. This is what the Palestinians achieved.

  7. @Inveterate No. Netanyahu is prime minister because he promised, and achieved, economic security, an increase in international acceptance, and then on top of solid security. On the latter, however, he is not particularly distinguished from his predecessors.

  8. This column has all the earmarks of history written by the victors, but on one point, at least, its conclusions seem clearly valid. The Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states would be far better off today, economically and otherwise, had they made the hard decision in the 1940s to work with Israel instead of trying to destroy her. Israel's remarkable success in building a vibrant economy in its part of a region that had known only poverty for centuries could have stimulated growth throughout the Middle East, had cooperation replaced hostility and endemic conflict. That alternate reality highlights one feature of the proposed plan that must play a central role in relations between the Palestinian state and Israel, if the region is to experience peace. The $50 billion of economic assistance must form part of a comprehensive program of aid and technical help that could gradually lift the Palestinian people out of poverty. The Palestinian authorities would have to cooperate in this venture, but only Israel has the resources and expertise to provide the leadership. Palestinians and Israelis do not have to like one another, but economic cooperation would give both countries a practical reason to suppress their mutual antagonism in exchange for a higher standard of living. The current Palestinian leadership might reject such a partnership, but their people might have a very different response.

  9. @James Lee The Palestinians and neighboring Arab states did not simply have the choice to work with Israel unless they were willing to accede to all of Israel’s territorial claims and the expulsion of Palestinians from the territory given to Israel by the UN. Israel was ethnically expelling its Palestinian population through murder and expulsion before the neighboring Arab states attacked it. The Deir Yassin massacre of hundreds of Palestinian villagers by Israel for example took place in the international zone demarcated by the UN in April 1948, a month before the neighboring Arab states invaded. The intervention of neighboring states is quite understandable in this context. Going back further, that whole region would be far more prosperous today if the British didn’t in their own words sell the same horse twice by promising the whole land to both the Jews and Palestinians in exchange for both groups’ support against the Ottoman Empire, which had previously tolerated both groups. It’s the British duplicity rather than the Palestinian insistence on the British fulfilling their promises of an independent Arab state covering Palestine that caused this mess.

  10. @James Lee The 1948 war was provoked as much by Jewish rejection of the partition terms and commencement of the Naqba as by Arab hostility to a Jewish state. It was by no means one-sided aggression. That is revisionist history and propaganda. There will never be Middle East peace until people stop pointing the finger and demonizing the other.

  11. The colonizers “giving” the natives direction on their economic development? Are you aware that Israel has quashed every effort by Palestinians to develop a modern economy? Does Palestine have a 3G communications network? It took more than a decade of negotiations by Palestinians to get a 3G network. Do they have 4G? No. Will they get 5G? No. Pretty much the same pattern in every area of business. Israel has denied Palestinian agriculture sufficient water to reliably produce crops while providing it to settlements literally next door. Israel refused grazing rights to pastoralists who provided the bulk of the West Bank’s meat supply, forcing the importation of meat from Israel. Israel has created “industrial zones” in the West Bank where Israeli companies receive subsidies and exploit Palestinian labor. Palestinian companies do not operate there. (See who profits.org report on West Bank industrial zones). The list goes on. Economic development carrots are a well-developed neo-liberal policy to de-develop local economies. If you think it’s such a good deal for Palestinians, take a look at what happened in Haiti with Bill Clinton’s much-vaunted economic development initiative. It just brought in multi-national corporations to exploit Haitian labor and to compete against and bankrupt local business.

  12. A great tragedy for the Palestinians is that when they needed a Nelson Mandela they got a Yasser Arafat. As Mr. Stephens indicated, because of Arafat’s belief that the Palestinian nation needed to be birthed in blood, Arafat launched the Second Intifada rather than accept a much more generous peace treaty than that now being offered. He turned to violence rather that turn the page to nation building and reconciliation. Israel’s dilemma is that it faces a perpetual existential crises undergirded by the belief that the Palestinian goal is not a two state solution, but a two-stage solution: stage one the creation of a Palestinian state and a stage two the ability of that state to grow strong enough to absorb Israel into it. The least likely outcome of the Trump plan is that the Palestinians accept a deal that gives them none of their core demands. More likely is either Palestinians returning to violence to attempt to extract better terms and/or demanding full citizenship within the singular nation of Israel and Palestine, which will challenge Israel’s ability to remain a democratic Jewish state. Israel may ultimately have to choose between becoming England ruling Ireland with the Sean Finn becoming the PLO or finding a way to create a better version of Lebanon with one democratic nation providing equal rights to two peoples.

  13. @IMS They had a Nelson Mandela. His name was George Habash,

  14. If you reject a seat at the negotiating table it's hard to shape what the deal offered will look like. Assume this is just a starting position...what is the harm of making a counter offer?

  15. @Pennsylvanian , good point. The Palestinians should make a counter offer: reunite Israel, Gaza and West Bank into a united secular and democratic nation. Which diehard secular and democratic person will be against that?

  16. @Pennsylvanian This is a *starting* position? I missed that part. Sounds to me more like "take it or leave it; and if you don't take it, then we will use your refusal to take anything we want."

  17. @Pennsylvanian - Like "negotiating" with the snake as to whether it swallows you from the top down or the bottom up?

  18. Finally, a clear-headed analysis of the proposed plan, along with a quick and accurate reminder of the Palestinians’ history of refusing to try to improve their lives by accepting peace. It’s also time for the leaders of the Arab states to stop perpetuating the conflict so that they can use it as a talking point to fire up their citizens. Accept the plan.

  19. Israel exists and thrives as a vibrant democracy due to a unique set of history during the 20th century. She is a creation of the western influenced foreign policy of both British imperialism and United States benevolence. But the Palestinian desire is to be in a perpetual state of upheaval. They have shown since 1917 an inability to get to ‘maybe’ let alone ‘yes’. Soon the Palestinians will be diluted and forgotten. I hope wrong about this but that’s where this one’s headed no matter who is In Charge.

  20. @Bruce Egert "Israel exists and thrives as a vibrant democracy-" That is not true. As Dahlia Scheindlin recently argued in "The Logic Behind Israel's Democratic Erosion," "A slow erosion of democratic practices has been reshaping Israel for about a decade." [https://tcf.org/content/report/logic-behind-israels-democratic-erosion/?agreed=1] Israel is, in fact, a prime case of the trend toward "illiberal democracy" first analyzed as such by Fareed Zakaria in "Foreign Policy" magazine some 20 years ago: [https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1997-11-01/rise-illiberal-democracy] With its unconditional military and political aid, the US has significant responsibility not only for the latest Israeli "offer," but - by permitting Israel's domestic right wing politics of occupation to flourish - partial responsibility for the country's greater democratic decline.

  21. @Bruce Egert Despite Orthodox Jewish birthrates Isreal as a whole is not having children. Palestinians are and 50 per cent of their population is under 18. If allowed to vote and hold cicitenship Isreali Palestinians would dominate the elections.

  22. @Jackson Neither do the Palestinians have a functioning democracy. Neither Hamas in Gaza, nor the P.A. in Ramallah hold elections. "Palestinian President for Life," Mahmoud Abbas has now started the 16th year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2005. Israel may be a "flawed democracy," yet it still holds elections, though their outcome may be uncertain.

  23. It will probably be surprising for many to learn that the UN Charter at the time the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights were acquired by Israel did allow such acquisitions in a defensive war, which was the case when Israel was attacked in 1967 by Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The legality of defensive conquest was endorsed by the International Law Commission, a body created by the General Assembly, and tasked with providing fuller explanations of the legal significance of the U.N. Charter. The ILC repeatedly recognized that not all territorial changes in war are illegitimate. Not all annexations were bad, the U.S. delegate argued. All agreed that post-war frontier adjustments were justified to help protect the victim of aggression. Israel, by virtue of its dependence on the US and desire for peaceful relations with its Arab neighbors, has entertained peace plans offered by various presidents all of which failed to gain Palestinian support. Today, well over a 100,000 Palestinians work in Israel and the Settlements every day. That is the reality on the ground.

  24. @GerardM If you assert that Egypt attacked Israel then you must believe that the US attacked Japan at Pearl Harbor. The 1967 war commenced with the destruction of the Egyptian airforce on the ground in a series of surprise Israeli air raids.

  25. @Erasmus The immediate causes for the war included a series of escalating steps taken by the Arabs: the concluding of a Syrian-Egyptian military pact to which Jordan and Iraq later joined, the expulsion of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) from the Sinai Peninsula and the concentration of Egyptian forces there, and finally the closure by Egypt of the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, constituting a casus belli for Israel. In other words, by closing the straits to Israeli shipping Egypt was in effect at war with Israel. When Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon moved their forces toward the Israeli border, Israel mobilized its reserve forces, and launched a diplomatic campaign to win international support to end the Egyptian blockade of Israeli shipping through the Straits of Tiran. When this failed, and in reaction to Arab threats of wiping Israel out, the war began with an Israeli aerial strike on 5 June 1967. It ended on 10 June 1967 with Israel's victory.

  26. @GerardM 1. Not a single vessel was ever impeded from moving through the Straits of Tiran. 2. You seem unaware that the United States placed an oil embargo on Japan (implemented - not just announced) and seized all Japanese assets in the United States prior to Pearl Harbor.

  27. Everything sated here is true. Except the "take it" part. The missing ingredients can be used as a bargaining chip at the table. The eventual return of occupied territory to the 1967 line. Let's use time and money to repair this important ongoing mistake of settlement building.

  28. Brilliant, Bret, brilliant. As much as we - Bret and I, I mean, dislike Mr Trump and would see him gone if we could, this plan is pragmatic and recognizes the where we are now, and importantly has gained support of moderate Arab states (are they matching the proposed aid the West Bank and Gazan Arabs? They should) We should all recognize that this would materially help Palestinians improve their lives and status.

  29. @Mark Marks folks prefer poor government of their own to outsider rule. This may sound fine to us, but I suspect that the Palestinians will preserve their hatred for decades more.

  30. I support the existence and self-determination of the state of Israel. That said, I am not sure there are many winners here. The current "plan" could never fly. Those proposing it know this. It remains unclear when both sides would be able to sit down at a negotiating table in good faith. This conflict has defied resolution forever. The inception is at least with the breakup of the Ottoman empire, and very likely earlier. To sit at a negotiating table many historical grievances would need to be left outside the room. There is no indication this can be done. There is no indication a Western power can peacefully settle the cycles of vengeance and retribution that are embedded in the desert sands. Many of us wish this showed signs of being otherwise, but this current "plan" is, at best, another yawn. At worst it is another cynical distraction.

  31. @JSK I can think of many potential examples of self-determination -- where a persecuted people (X) seek self-determination in land belonging for centuries (if not millennia) to another people. Self-determination for Europe's persecuted gypsies in some part of France, Hungary, Bulgaria, or any other territory in Europe. Self-determination for China's persecuted Uighurs, Myanmar's Rohingya in Vermont and Alabama respectively. Imagine if Myanmar had the nuclear bombs, aircraft carriers and missiles to impose this. Self-determination of Europe's surviving Jews in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany after WW II. Poetic justice!

  32. @Al-Makhzan I doubt your examples matter for the situation being discussed here. Maybe one day--but no sign so far. Again, too much historical anger that cannot be put away, at least so far.

  33. Yes, looking from the outside, from the West, the Palestinians should have accepted a previous deal as a starting point for negotiations. They probably would have gotten a much better result than they would if they accept the latest “deal” as a starting point. The current deal, like a Trump Steak or Trump University degree looks attractive but has no real value. As anyone who has any business dealing with Trump understands they need to get paid first before they enter into the deal. Trump, after all is a businessman, and they like to get paid before they sign or send their product or something like that. Who in their right mind would consider getting into a negotiation with Trump. Just ask the Iranians, the Europeans, plumbers, condo owners, or Trump’s former cabinet members. Even if this plan was a starting point, Trump’s history as a serial liar and promise breaker, nothing could ever get done.

  34. This is like wondering why the lifetime citizens of Queens would reject Amazon. Why would a group of people reject something that 'everyone' says is in their best interest and is supposed to be a 'win-win'? Because it is not. It is very difficult to say 'Yes' to something when you absolutely know you are getting the short end of the stick. Even if the short end is all you will ever get. History is riddled with 'deals' that ended up being a far cry from what was originally envisioned. African Americans and Native Americans know all too well that taking what's offered because that's all you will get is not such a great deal.

  35. @Walking Man So, what's another 70 years living with no hope in UN sponsored refugee camps? At some point, you take the best deal you're going to get. Even if it isn't "just" or ideal. It happens every day here in the U.S. whether it's a criminal plea deal or the settlement of a lawsuit. At some point you have to decide to move on with your life. It's 70 years or 103 from the 1917 Balfour declaration. Still no movement.

  36. @Walking Man I think that they residents of Queens would have a different perspective, had they the choice to make that decision for themselves, rather than leaving it to Barrista A.O.C. Now, those jobs will all go elsewhere, rather to the residents of Queens. How will Queens residents take that decision? Wait for the results of the November 2020 election in A.O.C.'s District!

  37. The plan makes me think of the scattering of native American reservations across the U.S., which I am sure Mr. Stephens would say the tribes were smart to accept. A string of disconnected tracts of generally less-desirable terrain where a conquered people can live in a seemingly, yet not truly, autonomous manner, provided they steer clear of the ruling class. After a few hundred years of colonial rule in America, we can see how well things have worked out for those people. Of course, Nelson Mandela might have had a different opinion.

  38. @expat_phil I doubt if Mr. Stephens (and others) is/are enough aware of history to understand your point. They should "check out the term Trail of Tears.

  39. @expat_phil Thanks for bringing this up. There are a lot of less than-than-apt comparisons made between Israel and the USA when it comes to the Native American population. Imagine this: The US native american population were 40% of the total. They were actually physically confined on these scattered reservations. They were legally prohibited from ever becoming US citizens. Would one in that case be able to call the USA a democracy?

  40. @expat_phil That's an excellent analogy.

  41. This deal exposes new weaknesses in the Palestinian "cause." Their leader hasn't delivered. He's old, and Palestinians seem ready for a change. Other leaders in the region have been brought on board already. It's hard not to imagine that Palestinians, tired of the hardships they have endured for decades ,wouldn't want a cool $50 billion of investment. That's a deal they won't get often.

  42. @AACNY I think that if the fine print in studied it will be found that the $50 billion is not in any way guaranteed and is more like a ball park figure thrown up by Trump and Co to impress.

  43. @RHR Has anyone else offered the Palestinians the opportunity to get $50 billion in aid?

  44. Wasn't this the same nonsense being touted as Yasser Arafat approached the end of his life?! As usual with Trump, $50 billion is a figure seemingly plucked out of thin air and no good to a nation that is not allowed to actually exist.

  45. The issue, it seems to me, is that the Palestinian leadership -- the Palestinian Authority, as well as the PLO -- in fact do not / not want a state. Why would they? To be responsible for all the messy and unpleasant aspects of self-governance? To be accountable to the Palestinian Arab citizens of a state? To have to rise to the level of real leadership and make difficult choices on behalf of their constituents? Given the manner in which Mr. Arafat and Mr. Abbas have comported themselves over the last 25 or so years -- having rejected not only unconditional negotiations with Israel, but also at least three very generous Israeli offers to address Palestinian demands -- their aspirations for statehood seem to be noting more than a diversion. There is also the crucial role played by Iran: for Iran's leaders, championing the cause of a "State of Palestine" that makes NO concessions to Israeli security demands is an existential requirement. A good portion of what passes for Iranian "foreign policy" -- support for Hamas, PIJ, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups -- aims to ensure that the Palestinians do not "give up their rights." Tehran uses all manner of intimidation, threats and pressure to make sure that Mr. Abbas and his colleagues do not stray from the path of "purity."

  46. @David H Correct. Palestinian leadership sees their selves as a militia, not really a government. They want to fight a war, not run a nation. The Palestinians need to build a leadership team primarily interested in building an economy, infrastructure, and services for its people.

  47. @John Agree, but with the threat of Iranian-sponsored assassination hanging over one's head, building a new leadership is next to impossible. THAT is and for decades has been the problem.

  48. @John I was especially shocked by their decision to use those building materials to make a tunnel into Israel instead of making bomb shelters like Israel has for civilians. They clearly don't have much incentive to protect their civilians since any deaths just get them more support. Palestinians deserve a state but I'm not sure the current regime really wants one

  49. Mr Stephens begins the article by freely stipulating that Prince Jared's "plan" is just a political ploy designed to benefit both Netanyahu and Trump in their upcoming elections. How refreshing if such stipulations became the norm for this administration. It's like, okay, Trump withheld military aid in exchange for an announcement by Ukraine that they were seriously investigating wild conspiracy theories that would benefit him in his upcoming election. So what? Or, okay, Trump's business interests in Turkey guide his foreign policy decisions on that country and Syria, too. So what? Stipulate the corruption and then look for glimmers of hope, that's what Mr Stephens appears to be saying.

  50. @Portola Where does he state that. I read it and then read it again. He states that it might be a political ploy (he does not state only a political ploy) not that it is.

  51. @aul Here is his stipulation: "...(T)he instant conventional wisdom is that it’s a geopolitical nonstarter, a gift to Benjamin Netanyahu and an electoral ploy by the president to win Jewish votes in Florida rather than Palestinian hearts in Ramallah. "It may be all of those things."

  52. But look on the bright side. If the Palestinians were to accept this plan, Trump would be able to claim he had done the impossible - solved the intractable Israeli-Palestinian problem - going into the 2020 election, tipping the balance in his favor, which would be the end of America as we know it. By rejecting it, the Palestinians continue to suffer so that we, and the rest of the world, don't have to. REJOICE!

  53. @Emeritus Bean I think I misunderstood this post earlier. I had not finished my coffee yet and my irony-meter wasn't fully functional. Spot on!

  54. @Emeritus Bean Irrational exuberance if I have ever seen it.

  55. One could argue it is best to come to the table. However, given the Israeli position and actions, this could be only for the purpose of rejecting the annexation, and for stating that a future Palestinian state have, with minor adjustments, the borders of the pre-1967 war, an internationally endorsed position. Then the question becomes, will Israel negotiate?

  56. @humanist Israel absolutely will negotiate. There is no desire in Israel to continue with the military administration of the West Bank.

  57. @humanist My word. When hasn't Israel negotiated? Who stormed out of the last round? No Israel.

  58. @humanist The Olmert Government offered exactly that in 2008, offering 97% of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, but Mahmoud Abbas said NO and made no counter-offer. Actions have consequences and Abbas' rejection of that offer means that nothing that generous will ever be offered by Israel again!

  59. So, just accept what the Israel offers or you will pay? That is not negotiation. The power balance has always been in the favor of Israel and that fact will keep any deal from being made. Israel will continue to hold land that doesn't belong to them and will continue to pretend to want peace while they consolidate their hold on that land. This strategy will work as long as Israel can continue to maintain military superiority over its neighbors.

  60. @Typical Ohio Liberal All negotiations involve leverage and the Palestinians have very little leverage. At the end of the day this is a practical matter and until the Palestinians see it that way then they will never get a nation of their own. There is no going back in time and changing what exists.

  61. There is a history to negotiations that is continually ignored. Deals that gave the Palestinians almost everything that they wanted. Deals that the Palestinians walked away from. Why is it so convenient to ignore history and the facts?

  62. @David W Not true. The deals have always favored Israel and they have been continually getting worse for the Palestinians as the years go by. The historical fact is that Israel has no interest in peace. They have put deals on the table that they know won't be accepted, but will convince powerful allies that they are serious about peace. If Israel really wanted peace they would have had it by now. They are the superior force in the negotiations.

  63. Looks to me like this plan is a step to annex the Palestinian's out forever. Look at the proposed map. The $50B offered reminds me of a class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs get $50, the lawyers (and Trump's relatives get $40B). I just hope the rest of the world don't judge all Americans by what is happening now, a lot of us know unfair and cruel when we see it.

  64. The plan will never happen. Those who propose and support it know this full well. When it is rejected (which it was before it was officially unveiled yesterday) Trump and Netanyahu will be delighted because then they will be able to say - you see the Palestinians don't want a peace plan- and they will get on with what they really intend to do - annexation of the west bank.

  65. @RHR You know who could prevent that outcome? The Palestinians.

  66. @RHR Parts of the West Bank.

  67. This is the law of the jungle - but sometimes that’s all there is. As Stephens points out, there is absolutely no reason to believe there’s anything better to be had. Time to end this pointless conflict.

  68. Given the relatively muted world response, including by the Arab states, and remarkably even by the Palestinians, to the Trump-Netanyahu peace plan, one has to wonder whether the dream of Palestinian statehood is dead. Has the world lost interest? Where, for example, is the outrage that led to the Second Intifada following the failure of the far more generous Clinton peace plan in 2001? Let’s step back from this and acknowledge a few realities. First, Netanyahu just agreed to a Palestinian State (albeit on only 70% of the West Bank). That’s progress, isn’t it? Second, there are 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who want independence and aren’t going anywhere. Third, there are over 600,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that aren’t leaving either. And fourth, Israel is a regional superpower, both militarily and economically. Yet, so long as each sides‘ minimum requirements remain in conflict, a peaceful resolution is impossible. So that leaves a recipe for a perpetual status quo, and with it, a perpetual dream of statehood. Well, at least until there is more moderate and conciliatory leadership on both sides.

  69. Mr Stephens fails to identify when it has gone well for Palestinians to say Yes. Is the principle that what's right for Israelis should also be right for Palestinians so very objectionable?

  70. @Steven Rhodes They never said yes, to anything. That the whole point here. "Is the principle that what's right for Israelis should also be right for Palestinians so very objectionable?" Yes, it is objectionable, both parties want different things that often contradict. the perception of "what is right" is different.

  71. @Steven Rhodes That's because the Palestinians have never said yes.

  72. @Steven Rhodes When have the Palestinians ever said "Yes" to a proposed peace deal? The answer is: never. They have rejected every single offer. No plan will ever perfectly meet every Palestinian demand. Ever. The Palestinians are at liberty to cling to the fantasy that they will one day drive the Jews from the land and retake the entire territory. But doing so will condemn them to statelessness forever.

  73. "Things rarely go well for those who try to live backwards." Does Mr. Stephens have any idea of the irony of such a statement coming from a life long movement Conservative?

  74. @gratis I had the same thought exactly. When conservatives finally give in on something, they fall back on their mantra, “okay, we were wrong about that, but we’re right about everything else.” Repeat as needed.

  75. @gratis The difference is that in the US conservatives have significant power, which the Palestinians lack. Saying no when you are in the weaker position usually isn’t effective unless you are willing or able to walk away, and the Palestinians can’t really do that. It’s not right but it’s the reality.

  76. Not that this is a very original observation, but there will be no movement towards a lasting peace (or a possible Palestinian state) until both sides grow past their religious fundamentalist driven politics of anger and resentment. Only a massive secularization of the parties involved will get them to the pragmatism needed to seriously negotiate. Though the political leaders of both sides may privately scoff at religious strictures, they rely for their support on the fundamentalists, and that situation isn't changing anytime soon--it may not for centuries, and by then the whole area may be too hot and dry to live in anyway. So the status quo is likely to linger on for a long, long time, until there is either a mass refugee exodus (or a mass die off).

  77. @Glenn Ribotsky I disagree in that as Muslim areas go, the Palestinians are far more secular than most and a vast portion of Israelis are secular. There will not be any movement towards peace as long as Palestinians continue to call for the death of all Jews, and to teach their children that killing Jews is a perfectly normal and laudable and celebrated activity. The words of Golda Meir ring true “When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons. Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

  78. @Glenn Ribotsky I think it's not just religion, but the strong current of anti-Semitism in the Palestinian territories and anti-Arab sentiment in Israel. If you hate a person so much that they don't seem human and get mad whenever you negotiate with the other side, nothing will ever get done. And both sides are doing things to reinforce those currents- every rocket attack or terror incident makes more Israelis anti-Palestinian and every increase in oppression by Israel makes Palestinians more anti-Israel

  79. This plan won't work. You don't determine the fate of the Palestinians by excluding them from the negotiating table. To assume that they will accept a financial aid promise from this administration is a non-starter. They have seen how well Trump upholds American commitments by the way he attached new conditions on the Ukrainian government.

  80. @Tom Q Bret Stephens I believe would agree with you. He isn't saying the whole plan should be accepted as is.. He is writing this because the Palestinians will not even consider this plan as the basis to create a plan that can be acceptable to them.

  81. @Tom Q The plan may or may not work. It should be pointed out, however, that the Palestinians excluded themselves from the negotiating table.

  82. And call me cynical but my first thought was “does that billions in aid go directly to a trump branded facility?”

  83. Focussing on the past and perceived injustices at this point has proven to be a futile negotiating policy. The Palestinian authority is notably corrupt, and the Palestinians count as their supporters Iran and Turkey, the former which publicly states Israel should not exist, and neither of which these days are aligned with US interests. Time has proven no “win-win” solution is feasible - it is simply time to choose a side and wrap this up, which Trump has done.

  84. Bibi and the Israelis are not corrupt? What about the criminal charges against Bibi? And the international lawlessness of the Occupation and the war crimes against the Palestinians? Let’s also not forget the heinous settlers and the confiscation of Palestinian land. Corruption of a different kind but corruption none the less.

  85. @LTJ It's all done? All wrapped up? Awesome! The entire world thanks DJT for his amazing deal-making. Thank you!! ....dripping sarcasm...

  86. @Kevinlarson If Bibi is as corrupt as Abbas, they should be able to negotiate a deal. They do that in the Illinois State Legislature and the Chicago City Council, which are just, if not more, corrupt. Illinois has the rare distinction. of sending four of its last 9 former Governors to Federal Prison, a record which even New Jersey and Louisiana cannot match!

  87. The sovereignty offered to Palestinians is hardly sovereignty in sense we understand it, with so much dependence on Israel’ policy choices and financial controls including access to water and energy. How is this plan, if implemented as it is now not, lead eventually into the same situation that existed in South Africa of the 70s and 60s?

  88. Well the naval blockade is contingent on current security concerns and its reasonable to assume it would be curtailed under this plan. With $50B in economic aid maybe they can build their own power plants using hydropower? Your vision is skewed by the lens of contemporary dynamics.

  89. @Jeremy W The Palestinians have displayed no internal expertise for such projects, nor do they wish to funnel international aid from bomb, rocket and tunnel-making activities to pay for outside expertise to do so.

  90. I agree. The current situation didn't just appear out of nowhere. The current dyanmic had developed over the last seven decades (at least). People seem to think the current sitution just "happened" with Israel annexing West Bank land. The Israeli's are taking advantage of the continous ineptitute of the Palestinian (and Arab) leadership. If maybe, just maybe, they accepted this plan or at least came to the table and used it as a starting point, the lives of their people could start to improve dramatically.

  91. A true and fair negotiation leaves both sides leaving the table and feeling satisfied that it is a fair and lasting agreement. With Trump and Netanyahu involved I doubt this to be true. Look at how both of these men behave and how they live their own lives. Neither know what fairness or a good deal is. They have only their own self-interest at heart. Netanyahu and Trump are both questionable negotiators. They both have proven to be untrustworthy. Which is why Netanyahu has been found guilty of Bribery and Trump has been Impeached.

  92. @Jean A fair negotiation means Palestinians are actually involved, not treated as cattle as Israel proposes we do

  93. @Jean Hummm... I thought that Mr Trump is Impeached but the "Trial" (if that's what it could be called) has not been finished (even though the conclusion seems obvious). And Mr Netanyahu has been indicated but the trial has not taken place yet. Both men have the aroma of something not right as I saw that announcement on the BBC. Both Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu were looking like the "Cat that ate the canary". Both men were gushing about this "Deal" as if it the answer to all the problems with the West Bank. I fully understand the Palestinians boycotting the negotiations between the U.S. and Israel as they feel they have been discounted but I felt disengagement is a mistake as you cannot put your concerns on the table and make them heartbreaking and understood. I understand how what happened and how the U.S. and Israel came to their plan. I learned early in my career that you never pass up a chance to air your views. This situation is making the Palestinians eat crow while decisions are being made without them. A good portion of the reason for this is the Palestinians themselves boycotting negotiations. There will be many problems and at 69 years old I believe the world has moved on from the Israeli Palestinian issues. You cannot get anything without a compromise... Just an old white man's opinion...

  94. @Bob How many times have the Palestinians agreed to engage in direct negotiations with Israel, when. asked to do so? If memory serves, the Palestinians ended negotiations in 2014 and refused to resume them. That is not Israel's fault!

  95. What it does is create an international norm legitimizing violations of territorial sovereignty and annexation of other people's land. It says that past international agreements are meaningless and it's okay for countries to say one thing with their fingers crossed behind their backs. It tells the world that it's acceptable to create crises of internally displaced people. By not only failing to condemn Israel's actions, but legitimizing it, we outright endorse theft of people's lands. Is this the world that the US wants? At the end of the day, this is a big step backward. How is this different than Russia annexing parts of the Ukraine? Iraq invading Kuwait? Turkey invading autonomous Kurdish territory?

  96. @Stephen I think that the Trump proposal on the conflict Israeli-Palestinian is not a fixed position.It may imply further negotiations to improve it. However if it is rejected a priori without possibly not knowing the details of the plan can solidify the present situation for times to come.

  97. @Stephen It's dramatically different. The Israelis offered peace, and the Arabs attacked. In that war, the Israelis refused to lay down and die, and they managed to capture land that once belonged to their Arab neighbors. It's naive to think that the Palestinians should have been allowed to start a war with nothing to lose. The notion that they should be able to attack and that their loss would simply revert back to the starting point is ridiculous.

  98. Here is the difference. Israel was established by the UN (for all you “International Law” folks). No one was invaded. It acquired additional land in defensive wars with enemies who refused to make peace. When their enemies did make peace (such as Egypt), their land was returned.

  99. When has soemthing gone right for the Palestinians since 1948 no matter what they have said? Is there any hope that the world wlll do anything for them? I remember the 1967 war and all that has not happened since then. Is this "proposal" of annexation just the beginning of the end? In 1945 Silesia and other territories inhabited overwhelmingly by Germans were placed under Polish administration as a consequence of a lost war. For decades expellees sought rights to return. The generation died off. The territories are now indisputedly part of Poland (in one case, Russia). Hardly anyone in Germany today would serioisly speak of let alone seek return. That is reality. Is recognzing reality what Mr. Stephens is calling for? One commenter thinks so and summarizes Stephens' column: "This is the law of the jungle - but sometimes that’s all there is. As Stephens points out, there is absolutely no reason to believe there’s anything better to be had. Time to end this pointless conflict.'"

  100. @JR As you ask: "Is there any hope that the world wlll do anything for them?" Therein lies the problem - hoping "someone else will do something about my issues" for decades on end. People have to work out their problems themselves with others. There is no other way. The Palestinians and Israelis are capable if they let go of the past and both peoples are exhausted by wars their leaders do nothing about. Solutions are possible, but they have to be for building a future, not returning to the past.

  101. @Si Seulement Voltaire There are many difficult issues and I agree there is no point in assigning blame and focusing on the past alone. Nonetheless I find the final comment ironic: "Solutions are possible, but they have to be for building a future, not returning to the past." Israel should not ignore the past of 75 years ago while remembering that of 2000 years agol

  102. @JR Actually, under the free movement rules of the European Union, Germans do have the right to the parts of Germany that were given to Poland. The Palestinians might be willing to accept a European Union type arrangement with Israel where there are separate governments but free movement and measures to enhance economic equality. What’s on offer is more like a South African Bantustan arrangement though.

  103. Granted the White House "plan" ("vision" is naturally hyperbolic given the sources) may be skewed toward the U.S. and Israeli interests , what, in fact, do the Palestinians concretely offer? In other words, they should at least offer a public proposal reflecting a view that is not an all-or-nothing approach (as they might do behind the scenes). "No" is not enough, but plans shaped without mutually constructive input are unlikely to produce calm.

  104. @JayGee Hard to offer any proposals when you're not present at the "negotiating" table, and the putative author's credentials are "reading 25 books on the subject." The only negotiations that have the slightest chance of success will start with a proposal initiated by both sides, not one drawn up by Israel and the US with it's massive financial/military support.

  105. @JayGee ... The Palestinians are a powerless, defeated people living as an under-privileged, segregated minority in the area that was once their homeland. Why should they agree to any of the proposals that would make their plight permanent? What's the sense of acquiescence with a gun held to their heads? Israelis have the power and obligation to do the right thing, which is to live together in peace and harmony with their Palestinian neighbors, their brothers in Abraham.

  106. Mr. Stephens is absolutely correct in his analysis. The Palestinians have watched train after train pull out of their station, each one filled with fewer goods for them than the train before. The reality is that the Palestinians will grow old and die before the fantasy train bringing with it East Jerusalem and the “Right of Return” ever pulls into their station. The Palestinian people need to get rid of their leadership, which has been selling them a worthless bill of goods for years, and elect leaders who actually have their citizens’ interests at heart. Perhaps then there might be peace. I am the opposite of a Donald Trump supporter, or a Jared Kushner supporter, or a Mike Pompeo supporter, but their proposal for a separate Palestinian state is reality-based and reasonable under the current sad circumstances.

  107. Ask the Native Americans living on reservations. They likely have the best deal that could have gotten but even after generations, groups do not recover well. Seems that Hobbs was correct: might makes right. Or maybe it’s the British colonial map makers who decide before retreating to their island.

  108. @Barrie Grenell But in what universe do the Palestinian’s get a better deal? Is it wise to wait decades for a miracle while, as ALB points out, the situation gets worse and worse in every way?

  109. You've made some interesting points Mr. Stephens - it's a very complex issue that will never be easily resolved, no matter what type of solution is provided. What is true is the alarming rate of poverty occurring in Palestine - reaching levels never seen before. Approximately 1 in three Palestinians in the labor market is unemployed. In Gaza, the unemployment rate is above 50% while the poverty level has reached 53%. Between 1994 and 2018, the share of mfg. in the economy shrunk from 20% to 11% and the share of agriculture and fishing dropped from 12% to 3%. The violence in the West Bank, with both Israelis and Palestinians contributing, is now at the highest levels since 2014. Everyday over 100 million litres of untreated sewage is dumped from Gaza onto the Mediterranean imperiling the coastlines with contamination levels exceeding 4 times the standards. The entire region is saturated with poverty, unemployment, and violence. The creation of a separate state will not solve many of these issues - in fact, many say, they will worsen. The creation of the State of Israel displaced the Palestinian people as described in the best selling book My Promised Land. Palestine can never go back - it's too late - there are close to 1 million Jews living in Jerusalem and the West Bank - they're not going anywhere. It's very sad - whatever the solution is, I don't see it improving the lives of the Palestinians. I wish there one - an easy solution to help millions - but there isn't.

  110. @JMS I disagree. It is not a complex problem. Since 1948, Israel has illegally confiscated Palestinian property. The UN recognizes that the Palestinians have a "right to return". The solution now is One Democratic State (ODS). Give everyone that Israel controls (which means 7 million Palestinians) equal rights. Who would argue against equal rights?

  111. "Regarding President Trump’s peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Stephens tees off... ...before devoting the rest of the piece to representing the issue as a case of Palestinians feckless rejectionism in the "Arab-Israeli" conflict. In fact, Israeli's occupation of Palestine has been and continues to be entirely shaped by the US's virtually unconditional support for Israel - both military and U.N. Had the US at any point in Israel's ongoing and progressive occupation of Palestine territories made military aid and political support conditional on giving up its occupation in return for US-supported military security, a just peace could have been - and still could be - achieved. Instead, by its acquiescence and support, the US has for 50 years emboldened the most aggressive, expansionist elements of Israeli citizenry and political parties.

  112. With all of the current talk about a quid pro quo, it is interesting to see the one proposed here by Jackson: the US should threaten to withhold aid unless Israel agrees to a “just peace” - code words for an outcome which would spell the destruction of the Jewish state.

  113. "Things rarely go well for those who try to live history backward." This is such a true statement about Palestinians and beyond. Human interactions from families to groups of people to nations never do well when the past is their only focus. One cannot change the past, but one can build the future by learning from the past a working on pragmatic compromise solutions. I hope both Palestinians and Israelis can learn to do this as the people of Northern Ireland or the Balkans finally did.

  114. @Si Seulement Voltaire Have the people of Northern Ireland and the Balkans finally achieved that? Are "The Troubles" really over, or will "Brexit throw a spanner in the works?" The same question as to the Balkans; will the Serbians start killing Bosnian Muslims again, even after Milosovich was deposed?

  115. There have always been two parties to the territorial dispute. The party that lived there and the party that moved in. This wasn't just gentrification, there are continuing, for 70 years now, evictions, incarcerations, etc.. There is a balance of blame to be had for the lack of progress towards peace, but surely, those taking the land of others have not tried very hard to find a resolution, and have been completely disingenuous in their negotiations. Meantime, the anger that the party that lived there from beginning feels is very real. How can they say no to their anger? How can they dismiss the continuing in justice? How can they be satisfied with their powerlessness?

  116. @rick The premises of this comment are false. and thus so are its conclusions. Jews have been living throughout Israel as a homeland for thousands of years-antedating even the birth of the Moslem religion. Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority for over a hundred years. So they have not “moved in.” Indeed there is a territorial dispute here. But that is an oversimplification of the situation. The Palestinians have refused to acknowledge the existence of the association of the Jewish people to the land or their right to an independent state, as well outlined in Stephan’s article. Israel made numerous offers of compromise starting in 1947-all rejected by the corrupt Palestinian leadership. This unfortunately continues today. The Trump “Deal of the Century” may or may not be viable. However, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a democratic Jewish state and be willing to live with it as part of any peace solution One of the solutions to this complex problem is for the Palestinians to have a rational competent leadership who cares about its populace-something which does not exist. Absent that, there cannot be an opportunity for peace and Israel cannot take risks to its security.

  117. @rick Rick, your comment suggests that Jews "moved in" in 1950 ("70 years ago"). Sorry, the history of the Jewish people in that area goes back thousands of years, Tel Aviv was not an Arab city, and Jews have lived there continuously. Both Palestinians and Jews had great displacement 70 years ago, hundreds of thousands of middle east Jews were evicted from their homes in Arab countries, many Palestinians left their villages, and Jews immigrated from Europe as early as the 19th century in significant numbers.

  118. @rick I completely understand their point of view. On the other hand, their anger about their powerlessness is completely misdirected. Arafat pillaged the funds that were supposed to be directed to the Palestinian people, and died with a net worth that was reportedly in excess of $1.3 billion dollars. Abbas has carried on that legacy, and is reportedly worth more than $100 million. While the Palestinian people languish in extreme poverty, Hamas spends over $100 million annually on its military wing, and blows huge sums of money on tunnels for terror activities. They are right to be angry, but they should demand answers from their corrupt leaders, instead of embracing their hatred of Jews.

  119. So did the Serbians on the Great Retreat, Bret. It wasn't just the Army taking to the hills.

  120. Look, Israel would not exist except for the massive assistance of Western countries who assured its creation. And it would not have so handily won the various regional wars without Western military assistance. Israel always knows the West has its back with the all-powerful United States being its most reliable benefactor. This gives the country a tremendous material and psychological advantage. Palestinians have been treated like dirt since 1948. And, like all people, they are proud. The question becomes: at what point do they give up and accept whatever plan the West draws up for them, however unsatisfactory? Because, somehow, someway, they are going to have to come to terms with living with Israel.

  121. @History Guy The Arabs received greater help from the Soviet Union and the Egyptians mostly held their own in the 1973 war; arguably winning it when Israel returned all of the Sinai in 1982. Both sides did their own fighting and dying.

  122. @History Guy Palestine has been supported and totally financed by other countries, especially the EU too. It is what you do with any support you get that matters for the people.

  123. @History Guy "History Guy" please tell me which assistance the West has provided to Israel during the 1948 war? Please also tell me whether the UN provided any assistance in helping to relocate ~1,000,000 Jewish refugees that Arab states kicked out in 1948? Please remind me of the level of assistance Arab countries have received from the Soviet Union 1948-1990. Go read a history book.

  124. After generations of conflct, marginalization and struggle, Native American communities just said "yes" in dozens of large-scale agreements and treaties. It's pretty clear how that worked out.

  125. Your analogy is based on a false premise. For it to be valid, Europeans would have been in Nth America continuously for 3000 years before Columbus and had long and deep historical ties and the settlers in Jamestown would have been joining their brethren and bought property legitimately.

  126. @Mark Marks I don't think the premise is correct and your version of history is questionable as well.Many Arabs fled due to war, massacres or cause they were told to leave by the Irgun and Haganah. Much of the land was simply appropriated, which is why those who lived on it have been denied the right of return. To pretend our hands are clean is to deny history.

  127. @Scott Goebel Native Americans also fought back and ultimately lost because they were a weaker militarily. Sometimes you are stuck in a no-win situation, and you can fight and die or accept it and live. It’s not fair but it’s reality.

  128. The pertinent quote from column is, "The record of Arab-Israeli peace efforts can be summed up succinctly: Nearly every time the Arab side said no, it wound up with less". Arab rejectionism began shortly after the Six Day war in September 1967 with the Khartoum resolution with the infamous "No peace, no recognition, no negotiation" in response to Israel's offer of return of the SInai and the West Bank in exchange for peace, and has continued to this day. The Palestinians refuse to admit they were on the losing side of a war and they don't dictate the peace terms. Until they accept that reality the gradually changing "status quo" will continue.

  129. @alansfmd Refusing the results of a war simply means continuing to fight that war. You can call that "rejectionism", but that won't change the facts... Moreover, I hope you know that many UN resolutions since then have strongly condemned Israel for how it is treating its citizens - including in war zones. Basically, the entire world, including most Jewish Americans, disagree with what the current Israeli government does to the Palestinians. Obviously, that means that the conflict isn't solved at all yet - to say the least. The entire world wants a REAL peace plan, not a plan where the Israeli far-right together with an utterly corrupt US president imagine that they can "dictate the peace terms" unilaterally, without even engaging in real negotiations. Just look at what not knowing how to negotiate resulted in at home: no southern border wall, no repeal and replace Obamacare, no comprehensive immigration reform, NOTHING, in terms of REAL change (= by definition legislative change), except for a deficit-doubling tax cut for the wealthiest. If Trump can't even negotiate with his own party, how could you believe he has what it takes to solve the biggest conflict in the world out there ... ?

  130. @alansfmd Didn't it really begin in 1948 with denial of UN partition plan and the subsequent War of Independence ?

  131. @Ana Luisa Another reader quoting the UN?? When I see UN resolutions condemning China for organ harvesting and re-education camps or Muslim countries that kil gays, Christians and apostates, I might start finding them somewhat credible.

  132. There have been a number of memes promulgated mostly by Israelis, such as the Palestinians never lose an opportunity to reject a good deal. Well, maybe? What I never seem to see are any maps that show exactly what will be Israeli territory and what will be Palestinian territory. Not now, not with all the "great deals" stretching back to 2000. Even maps disguise, since Palestinian territory is not really under the exclusive control of Palestinians, no airspace and often cross-hatched by Israeli corridors. Two states? Right. The Palestinians have been sold out by their Arab friends, in exchange for Israel keeping Trump focused on Iran. Neat deals, too neat. If this is so great for Palestinians, please give us a map.

  133. @wnhoke I don't know if this is what you're talking about, but I have seen a map outlining this deal. I don't know if it's official or not, but I saw one at The Times (UK). Lots of corridors snaking around as lifelines through hostile territory.

  134. Almost all of history, often unfortunately, consists of people looking back. The state of Israel was created in response to a refugee problem (following WWII) but was done so by looking back some 1900 years. The current problem of settler incursions continues that tradition. I agree that the state of Israel is not going to go away, that it is in many respects a shining star in the Middle East, and that the Palestinians are not well served by their ‘leaders’. This is much the same situation that the current countries of the Americas created during their foundational periods. We claimed all of the land save small slivers we considered worthless, said we were doing God’s work and that the original occupants had no legitimate claims, and relegated native Americans to these unsustainable outposts, which we then made even smaller. When they resisted, we fought them, each time they resisted their condition worsened. Eventually it was all settled to the benefit of the existing Euro-centric countries, and to the continuing detriment of the original inhabitants. To tell the Palestinians that this is a 21st century solution for this ongoing conflict is laughable, even if no one can come up with anything better. This is particularly true with respect to the ‘settlers’ who have nibbled away at what little the Palestinians have managed to hold on to. How would you convince them that the new lines set up by any solution wouldn’t likewise be encroached upon?

  135. @VKG But without a settlement it is absolutely guaranteed that the Palestinian’s land will continue to be “nibbled away.” The only hope of stopping this erosion is to agree to some plan, any plan, and thus get the backing of major powers to hold that line. The world is sick enough of this dispute that Israel could not likely renege unscathed. Unending rejection of negotiations continues to diminish sympathy for their plight and any support for pushing back against Israel.

  136. You don't get it. Still. Anybody with a history of selling steaks to the American public, cannot be trusted to form policy. Even if on its face it appears to be legitimate. Even if it possibly had a chance to be good policy. If the guy forming policy could at any moment, do an about face on that same policy.....exactly why would anyone, Palestinians especially, trust that? No trust, no support. Pretty simple.

  137. Ironic that you seem to think a plan by the most backward looking and thinking president in history is forward looking. The problem is that anyone who is religious is by definition not rational. There can be no solution until religion becomes a lower priority than humanitarianism. Given the very nature of religion, that’s unlikely.

  138. Stephens claims that: "nobody will benefit less from a curt dismissal of the plan than the Palestinians themselves, whose leaders are again letting history pass them by." To anyone with even a passing familiarity with geopolitical history, this kind of self-serving logic is hauntingly familiar, for it has appeared countless times in historical accounts written by the powerful about the people from whom they steal land and any semblance of dignity. (It should not be lost on the reader, in this connection, that Stephens has written in these pages about the inherent intellectual superiority of the Jewish people.) At bottom, what Isreal has been engaged in for decades is denying Palestinians the right to sovereignty, to determine for themselves what is in their own interests, and, inescapably, to call the 'opportunities' offered by Isreal what they are: sham choices offered up at the end of a bayonet. There is no question that Isreal has violated and continues to flout international law--with the material support of the United States--and no doubt that this latest "opportunity" is nothing more than the latest instance of geopolitical waterboarding of Palestinian leaders. It is disgusting to attribute Palestine's woes to the desperation and vagaries of their leaders. It is Stephens who should be admonished for advancing this cruel and dishonest narrative yet again.

  139. @J Young Isn't the Palestinians' objective to do exactly the same to the Israelis by stripping them of their homes, lands, sovereignty and dignity, provided them under UNGAR 181 for creation of two states,"one Arab and one Jewish?" The Israelis accepted the partition while Palestinians, along with Arab League nations, rejected it, initiating war against Israel in 1948. Had the Palestinians also accepted partition, they would have had considerably more land, peace with their neighbors, statehood and also a shared Independence Day. The intellectual excellence of the Arab world of the 13th and 14th centuries atrophied to be replaced by the Imperialism and lust for conquest of the Jihadist, who seeks to dominate the world and convert the infidel at the point of the sword. The modern Israeli "Sabra" is tough, unlike his European predecessor, and is willing to employ modern. technology in the defense of his country. He has done so successfully in 1948-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 2000, 2008-09, 2012, and 2014 against the foreign invaders seeking to kill him and eradicate his nation. Initiating "wars of aggression" which realistically cannot be won, has devastated and impoverished Palestinians. Co-existence would be possible, if Palestinians chose to pursue it. But, in a rapidly changing Middle-East, Palestinians will be isolating themselves from their Arab brethren if they choose to side with Iran's theocracy. Israelis will resolutely defend their nation against foreign aggression!

  140. These are wise words from Mr. Stephens. The only fly in the ointment -- which will lead to rejection by the Palestinians at least until after our elections -- is the fact that, if the Dems defeat Trump, the Dems will return to the dithering that has characterized their approach to this issue for years. To the Dems, the Palestinians are just another identity group too appease.

  141. @Ulysses, Remember Jimmy Carter? Remember Bill Clinton? Democrats have worked for peace between Israelis and Palestinians for decades. If Yitzhak Rabin hadn't been assassinated it might have worked. The biggest problem in the area is that both sides are very stubborn and have blinders on about the other side. I would compare Israeli settlements to the invasion of Crimea by the Russians. No matter where your loyalties lie, it is the powerful overcoming the less powerful and is just wrong.

  142. @Ulysses Yeah right, all the dithering... by Carter and Clinton...the only modern Presidents to get any where in the region. Hmm...what have the modern Repub presidents done...hmm? (Besides Bush1....thousands of miles away on a different land mass....)

  143. I do not like Trump, but the immediate negative reaction to the plan by mainstream media and left wing politicians and commenters here reflects a total disregard for history. Israel accepted partition in 1948, but 5 Arab armies attacked. Israel fought a defensive war in 1967 and gained the West Bank and Gaza, which had been controlled by Egypt and Jordan, not Palestinians. Afterwards, the Arabs famously issued the 3 nos at Khartoum, including no negotiations and no peace. The Arabs attacked again in 1973. The Palestinians rejected 3 offers of peace which were far better than Trump's plan. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but after Hamas took over, they responded with rockets instead of showing they wanted to live in peace. More recently, Palestinians refused to negotiate, even when Israel froze settlements for 9 months and released thousands of prisoners. The rejection of peace offers and resulting intifadas convinced Israelis that Hamas and a majority of Palestinians still want to destroy Israel. Thus, Israelis are convinced that Palestinians' idea of a two state solution is to get whatever they can now and continue to fight. The 1967 borders are indefensible, if Hamas, aided by Iran, takes over. Stephens is right.

  144. @Paul Kovner Have you ever visited Gaza? Do you know what "withdrawal" means in that case? History can explain the present, but it does not justify what the present is. There's truth that lives And trust that died

  145. @Maggie Huff-Rousselle Have you? The truth is that when Israel withdrew from Gaza, it removed all settlements and Israelis who lived there. Israel left intact almost 3,000 high-tech greenhouses which could have provided jobs and export income to Palestinians, but the Palestinians destroyed them. It was only after Hamas took over in Gaza that Israel had to impose security restrictions. Much like the wall in the West Bank, the security restrictions have substantially eliminated terrorist attacks. In the second intifada, over 1,400 Israelis were killed in such attacks, which is the equivalent of over 76,000 Americans, given the relative populations. If Hamas and other Palestinians used foreign aid to develop Gaza instead of attack tunnels and continuing its efforts to destroy Israel, those Palestinians who want to live in peace would have a better future.

  146. In re to: "The best thing the Arab world could do for itself is learn from Israel..." According to a recent United Nations Human Rights Council report on the Gaza protests, “...Israeli security forces killed and maimed Palestinian demonstrators who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities. Less lethal alternatives remained available and substantial defenses were in place, rendering the use of lethal force neither necessary nor proportionate, and therefore impermissible.” Is that the lesson?

  147. @Matt UN Human Rights Council with member states including China, Egypt, Iraq, Cuba, South Africa, all of whom are either ill-disposed toward Israel or with major human rights issues themselves. The lesson there: don't listen to the UN Human Rights Council; they are anything but.

  148. @Matt The UN Human Rights Council is hardly an unbiased source, considering that is has sponsored the most unbalanced criticism of Israel's invoking Article 51 of the UN Charter, recognizing an "inherent right to individual or collective self-defense," a right available to UN nation-state members, but not to non-state terrorist actors. BTW, has the UN Human Rights Council ever condemned the 2000-2005 "Second Intifada," in which over 1,000 Israeli civilians were deliberately targeted in bus and cafe bombings, acts defined as "War Crimes" under the 1949 Geneva Conventions? I didn't think so!

  149. @Matt And you think the UN Human Rights Council is credible????

  150. Mr Stephen's analysis is sadly true. The Palestinians have lost out at every turn in the story of Israel's establishment and expansion. And yes partly because of poor leadership and judgement on their part- and their Arab neighbours - but also because of the greater military and monetary power of Israel. I would dispute his contention that what is presently on offer is their own sovereign state. It's geography and proposed governance resemble more that of a reservation. I am not sure what Mr. Stephen's message is. This is as good as it gets, accept or suffer more? How far we have come from the original vision Zionism where Arab and Jew would shape a new future for this long troubled region.

  151. @Tom Doyle Spoiler alert, If you believe in God and all of these people profess that they do when God looks out on his people he doesn't see Israeli, American, Palestinian, Catholics, he see's people who do good works and love vs hate. Sorry most of our political leadership are working with the devil not with God. there words speak for themselves, hearts full of hate no matter how much they pretend to pray. God knows our hearts and minds, he is never fooled.

  152. I find Mr. Stephen's "insight" so transparently biased it is shameful. "What it offers is a sovereign state, mostly contiguous territory, the return of prisoners, a link to connect Gaza and the West Bank, and $50 billion in economic assistance. What it demands is an end to anti-Jewish bigotry in school curriculums, the restoration of legitimate political authority in Gaza and the dismantling of terrorist militias." - Has he looked at the proposed map? There nothing resembling a contiguous state. - Does he think a link between the broken parts will not be instantly shut whenever Israel feels it needs to do so? - Does he actually believe there will be $50B in economic assistance, when this plan has not even identified who would actually pay for that? Do a little mind experiment - reverse the parties. Do you think, under literally any circumstances, that Israeli's would accept a nation that looked like that?

  153. @Jack Israel would have accepted the 2000 Clinton deal for 97% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 1948, Israel happily accepted the slivered, non-contiguous area that was offered them, most of which was already Jewishly owned or uninhabited; the Arabs (Palestinians were not formally Palestinians back then) rejected even this. Yes, do the little mind experiment. Take factual history into account.

  154. Like many other similar situations around the world in human history, the conflict between Palestinians and Israel won’t even begin to be resolved until there is some acknowledgment that an entire people was dispossessed of their homes, land, and livelihood in 1948. Let’s not forget how this whole shameful period of history began, and let’s not pretend that those wounds have miraculously healed on their own. (See: the US’s delayed reckoning with racial injustice and prejudice, South Africa’s reconciliation process, the truth and reconciliation process in Canada). Bret, your flippant comment about history bears all the marks of a dominant power unwilling to acknowledge wrongs of the past, in exchange for a real opportunity to move forward in reconciliation. But, if you want the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist, you can’t in good faith deny them the same exact right, one that was forcibly taken from them in 1948. You also can’t deny them human rights and keep your foot on their throats, as one commenter here so aptly put it. Who here wouldn’t reject such a condition?

  155. Do you mean the Arabs that left the area of Israel, or the Jews that were chased out of the Arab lands, such as Iraq, Yemen, Morocco, and the like?

  156. @Larry Israel The Palestinians, living in Palestine, who were forcibly removed from their rightful homes by UN soldiers in 1948. You can deny this ever happened, but my grandmother and her five children went through this exact trauma, and my father, who was eight or nine at the time, remembers living in a refugee camp for a time after this, because they had no place to go and had to make contact with my grandfather who drove trucks all over the Middle East for the Iraq Petroleum Company, and was away from home at the time. Calling them “Arabs” betrays your inability to acknowledge that Palestine was a state before Jews arrived on ships from Europe and parts further to colonize a land that was already inhabited. Your people are not the only ones in history who have been pushed out of their homes, but you appear to be the only ones who use their own trauma to justify visiting the same exact trauma on another people. Shame on you.

  157. The basic problem is that the Palestinians will accept nothing less than the destruction of the state of Israel as a Jewish state, but no Israeli government of any political persuasion will ever allow that to happen. That's why the "peace" process, including this latest iteration, is doomed from the start. It doesn't matter how many state department bureaucrats you put on it, how committed our leaders are to achieve it, how much money we can throw it, it is going no where ... ever. Once we give up on chasing this chimera, we can then reassess in a serious way what our interests are in the region, who our allies are, how our aid is distributed, and the like. Otherwise we should just leave these actors alone to sort out their own problems.

  158. I think it’s the general position of Palestinian leaders that Israel has the right to exist and that the Palestinians have the right to a homeland (the two state solution). There is a general consensus that the two state solutions is the feasible way forward. The issue is that the Palestinians want the two states to reflect the geographical situation before the 1967 war, while the Israeli’s reject this based on security concerns over the Golan heights etc. It’s mostly a geographical disagreement at this point, with the partitioning of Jerusalem and it’s holy sites on both sides being a particularly thorny issue. If the US is to sincerely play honest broker there should be a Palestinian sitting down with a US Jew (currently Jared Kushner) or a 50/50 group of both to formulate the US plan, otherwise don’t bother.

  159. @WoodyTX My revelation came back in 2000 when Arafat walked out on Clinton and I was listening to an interview on NPR. The interviewer asked a Palestinian spokesman what is it that the Palestinians wanted, and the answer was simply, "an end to the occupation." Seems reasonable, right? I was convinced! But the interviewer persisted (not sure why - they never do this): "So when you say 'the occupation,' I take it you're referring to the West Bank and Gaza, right?" The spokesperson, perhaps worried about a trap (that was pretty much the Clinton proposal with a small number of land swaps) simply repeated, "we want an end to the occupation." The interviewer tried one more time, "what territories are you referring to?" and the answer was, "ALL the occupied territories." No doubt what he meant. What you repeat is just Palestinian propaganda packaged for an unwary world audience. It's not what most really think.

  160. @J The basic problem is that the Israelis will accept nothing less than a Palestinian puppet "state" over which they have total control and which they can destroy at will. That is the other half of the equation which you conveniently leave out.

  161. This plan reminded of the Treaty of Versailles in 1918. As the Allies discovered in the 1930s, winners can do pretty much whatever they want, BUT in the long term there is a price to be paid.

  162. @John And then Versailles was the result of negotiations among all the allies, whereas this time, no allies were involved - no one was involved, actually. That's why it's not a treaty, but merely a plan. At the same time, contrary to 1918, the Palestinians did NOT accept defeat. They continue to fight. And the UN continues to condemn not only Islamist terrorism, but ALSO the extremely unjust and unacceptable way that far-right Israeli governments have been dealing with the problem.

  163. Logistically, it would be very difficult to govern the United States as a unified country if the entire mid-section and parts of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts were occupied by Russia. If you look at the proposed map that Trump and Netanyahu are offering the Palestinians as a peace plan, it's very difficult to imagine where the center of gravity would be for a unified Palestinian state.

  164. And yet, the question is straightforward: do you want it, or not? And if not, what makes you think you’ll get more than what you’ve previously rejected? That’s the crux of Mr. Stephens piece, and it makes perfect sense.

  165. @Chris if it is an infeasible and cruel plan, then the question is not at all straightforward! @Dan provided some complications to Stephens argument that cannot just be dismissed.

  166. @Dan The fact that the Palestinians keep getting offered peace plans (all of which to date their leaders have rejected) is in itself without precedent. Can anyone i.d. a country, which being totally victorious in a defensive war, turns around and offers to negotiate the peace with its enemy? Which victorious country in history totally retreated from captured lands? And as to the proposal. This time the Saudis and the Emirates are financial partners with the US and Israel in expanding the Palestinian’s economy. Egypt and other Arab countries stand behind this proposal. This proposal promises jobs and wealth development. A new Palestinian state could become the Switzerland of the middle east. . . IF the Palestinian leadership would show as much interest in Palestinian youth’s economic future as they have in teaching little kids to hate Jews.

  167. I would partially, reluctantly agree. The reason being the fact mentioned- Israel holds the cards in this very asymmetric relationship and will never relinquish what it has- no matter what world opinion says. Israel has only to look at the Muslim world's attitude toward the Palestinian question today compared with 20 or 30 years ago- now only a very weakened Iran supports the Palestinians- the rest of the Muslim world (at least the Arab Muslim world) has either accepted the reality on the ground or is no position to do anything about it and most want whatever they can get from a relationship with Israel. World opinion will also follow this trajectory. The partial agreement for the idea comes with a caveat- the price, if that is the "deal" for selling out, should start at 200 billion and be increased every time trump, Netanyahu or Kushner demurs. For trump this is his chance for a foreign policy triumph after many failures, and for long term bragging rights, and the Palestinians, who he thinks are over a barrel, really have him over one-his ego is involved. Accept conditionally and then start the bargaining process and demand enough money, infrastructure development and foreign investment, to make a real difference in the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

  168. @Callie This was always the challenge facing Zionism. Do we live with or dominate the local Arab population. Absorption would make an exclusively Jewish state impossible. Domination has now been chosen. The two state solution of equal standing is now, and always was, a fiction.

  169. The only argument for the "Trump Peace Plan" is that it formalizes the "reality on the ground" - Israel has absolute military and financial domination, more powerful allies and, essentially, its foot on the Palestinians' throat. (For good measure, the deal also throws in Jerusalem, maybe as a sort of pre-emptive capitulation.) Does Mr. Stephens really expect Palestinians to abdicate virtually everything in exchange for... promises of aid from a country that has spent over half a century starving and bombing them? Also, does this clever-sounding phrase actually mean anything useful: "things rarely go well for those who try to live history backwards"

  170. @Nathan Means "...promises of aid from a country that has spent over half a century starving and bombing them?" -Please stick to facts. Israel has provided extensive humanitarian, medical and financial aid to the Palestinians over the decades. Meanwhile, the Arab states have contributed guns and other weapons; they contributed little that would help any activity other than the failed ongoing attempt to destroy Israel. While Israel has done wrong things over the years, and I disagree with Netanyahu on many issues, Israel historically has taken almost no land and no military action unless in response to provocation or frank invasion by Palestinians or their military supporters. - As Einstein said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." That is pretty much how the Palestinians have approached Israel. Maybe it is time for a change? The Arab countries that used to support them seem to think so. Perhaps the productive and wiser approach would be to use this as a start of new negotiations and see where it can go. -Obviously, the wisest approach is for them and the Israelis to work it out, since any deal offered by the USA has historically gone nowhere, and all positive steps have occurred when the conversation started locally and THEN involved us. But that would still require the changes Stephens outlines.

  171. @Nathan Means I neither wholly agree nor wholly disagree with Stephens. However, I find merit in the saying, "things rarely go well for those who try to live history backwards." History has been rough on any number of peoples - in fact, it's been rough on virtually all people's except for a small number of white Europeans - not all white Europeans, a small number. For instance, history was rough on Jews unlucky enough to be born in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Poland, Germany, Austria and the list goes on. Not only can't these nations bring the six million back to life, last time I checked they weren't offering to return the homes, businesses, land or property stolen over hundreds of years. Had the Jewish people made repatriation and reparations their main focus over the past decades, we would have wasted them. History happens - unfortunately. You win some you lose some. Then you have to move on.

  172. @KG -- "Israel historically has taken almost no land and no military action unless in response to provocation or frank invasion by Palestinians or their military supporters." It would be interesting for me to hear a supporter of the Palestinians to hear their side as response to your comment.

  173. To the Palestinians, Trump has been about the worst U.S. president in decades. So in addition to the fact that they were not consulted on the plan and it is one-sided in favor of Israel (at least to start), they may be making a political calculus: Trump has an election in November and they hope he loses. By waiting to engage on this plan until the election results are known, they lose little since the plan is so unfavorable to them and have a chance of seeing someone in the White House they like better after November.

  174. @Jack Sonville The Palestinians refused to participate. The fact is, they will refuse anything that does not lead to the destruction of Israel.

  175. @Jack Sonville How well has that hope of a more pliable President next time worked out over the last 70+ years?

  176. "It allows Israel to annex its West Bank settlements and the long Jordan Valley." This the most fertile land in the area. It compensates Palestinians for lost territories in the West Ban with remote territories near the Egyptian border." This is desert area. So the Palestinians are asked to give up fertile arable lands for more desert. How is $50 Billion in economic assistance going to actually help them. When that money is gone, the Palestinians will still be living in an arid environment where growing things and having water to drink will be extremely difficult. What a deal. All for Israel and nothing for the Palestinians.

  177. @esp And water is only going to become more valuable as this climate crisis escalates. As every culture that has ever endured knows: water is life, more valuable than money, more valuable than gold.

  178. @esp I have no idea whether your comment is true, but even if it is, we're living in a post-agricultural economy. Most of Israel and lots of other places, for example Arizona, aren't fertile like the Midwestern farm states, but they have high GDP and their citizens can live in peace. Furthermore, Israeli's withdrew from farms and greenhouses in the Gaza Strip a decade ago, and the Gazans destroyed them when they took over!

  179. @esp The "deal" is not an take it or leave it. It is an invitation to negotiate. The point of the editorial wasn't that it's a great deal, it's that the Palestinians haven't negotiated in good faith, ever. Then they keep getting offered less and less. The Palestinians are still putting right of return at the top of the list... It isn't going to happen. So the editorial isn't saying it's a great deal, it's saying that the Palestinian reaction is the same as it's always been, no matter what the deal.

  180. "The strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must" - seems to be the guiding principle here.

  181. @Erasmus Yes, this kind of mindset infuriates me. It’s enough to make me support Bernie Sanders though I disagree with him on 90% of issues he seems furthest away from this mindset. I hope some day the Christian teaching of “the last will be first and the first will be last” comes true and the people who hold this view now find themselves trapped in countries that are impoverished and powerless from which they can neither escape nor prevent more powerful countries from carving them up. People who think they and those who agree with them will always hold the power have no concept of fairness.

  182. @Erasmus It's hard to imagine a more one-sided deal. Trump and Netanyahu are offering to buy the Palestinians off with a one-time infusion of $50 billion supposedly coming from other interested parties. And for that, Israel gets everything. Everything and more. Oh, and it's a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

  183. You might consider that Israel is strong as a result of having to defend herself against huge armies intent on destroying her and committing genocide.

  184. Also inherent in your observation, Mr. Stephens, is that Israel is always pushing to take more. Why is that justifiable? Isn't that just "might makes right?" And even if the Palestinians accept, what are the odds that the Israel's will stop pushing?

  185. @chris This is a historical mistake. With the 1979 Camp David Accords, Israel gave up the Sinai. Israel left southern Lebanon and abandoned the Gaza Strip. The deal offered by Ehud Barak and later Olmert both envisioned relatively equitable swaps of land. Meanwhile, readers always seem to need reminding that the Palestinians are chronic rejectionists. Had they accepted the Clinton-Barak offer, they'd be celebrating their 20th year of independence.

  186. @Philip Cohen And had they accepted the 1947 offer of partition, they'd be celebrating many more years of independence.

  187. @Philip Cohen Sorry, but Israel doesn't get credit for "giving up" conquered territories occupied in defiance of international law.

  188. A more ethical starting point is the original UN declaration for Israel's existence and the land demarcations. that would necessitate the dismantling of the settlements and returning them to their original owners. A good starting place is usually the beginning. Starting from the more spoils of war is never goning to end hostilities.

  189. Not sure if that is the ethical starting point actually. Those borders were drawn before the Arab side decided to wage multiple illegal, unprovoked wars against Israel. Why should the victor give up the spoils of multiple wars waged against it, when that victor was begging the other side for peace beforehand? The blame here squarely falls on the Palestinians.

  190. @Vicki From Vermont The actual starting point map depicts a Jewish state ( un-named at the time) that starts EAST of the Jordan River and extends westward to the Mediterranean. That as the true beginning. Also, the actual UN charter assumes the validity of the League of nations passed principles, which state " Jews have the right to live and settle anywhere from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. In any case, Israel will decide in the end in some sort of agreement.

  191. @Vicki From Vermont That was a starting point 52 years ago. Peace wasn't offered from the Arab side.

  192. Everything said in this piece may be true, but I can’t see how causing one side of the negotiations to completely lose face will result in a lasting and mutually beneficial deal. If indeed Israel has gained so much since the 1940s a preparedness to consider concessions should be signaled at this point. Right now with these two cynical bullies throwing down a take-it-or-leave-it offer; the humiliation of the other side is a foregone conclusion.

  193. Misnomer. The proposed deal to grant Israel annexations as well as create barriers for Palestinians to overcome with the ultimate goal of some sort of independence, only if Israel approves, is not Peace in the Mideast. Israel has often pointed out that the troubles in the occupied territories are not the only conflicts in the area. They are right. What is strictly occupier/occupied problems is Israel’s and has no impact on all the other battles. Presently, Israel is in a good position as US’s Arab allies have all but thrown the Palestinians under the bus because of the Iranian-Saudi rivalry, Another old argument made by Israel that the Arabs were simply using the Palestinians as an excuse not to recognize them. As for US policy, Trump is following American policy. If there is a problem, only talk to those that agree with you. Iranian nuclear potential? Don’t talk to Iran. Concern for the well-being of Syrian civilians? Don’t talk to the Syrian government. Worried about Russian-US war? Don’t talk to Moscow. What Israel already can do, annexations, suppression, etc, it does. The Palestinians were considered nonentities before, and by ignoring them, remain nonentities now.

  194. Mr. Stephens notes that the proposed Palestinian state will be "sovereign," and that it will be disarmed. Interesting! Would he also consent to an Israeli sovereign state of the same sort, without the Merkavas, Apaches, and F16s it currently uses to occupy Palestine? What's good for the sovereign goose is good for sovereign gander. In the meantime, it would be good to hear what he thinks concretely of the political concept that some states (perhaps not all of them, but certainly Israel) should be allowed to conquer and annex. A good thing, or a bad thing, Mr. Stephens?

  195. @Jim Holstun Did we do anything when Russia annexed Crimea? Should we have? Should we now force Russia to give Crimea back? We seem have a "hands-off" attitude regarding annexation in recent history. If we're going to force Israel to give up its annexed lands we also should do the same for Russia and others. Do you want that fight? Or do you only care about the Palestinians and not the Crimeans?

  196. @Jim Holstun , are you also promoting re-taking Crimea from Russia?" eastern Ukrain? Tibet? how loudly are protesting the Chinese invasion, occupation and annexation of Tibet?

  197. @Jim Holstun The reason why Palestinian demilitarization is "fair" and Israeli demilitarization is not is that it is the Israelis who were the victims of multiple Arab wars of aggression, and multiple suicide bombing attacks. Israel conquered the West bank after pleas to King Hussein to stay out of the 6 Day War.

  198. While I agree with you that Palestinians lost multiple occasions in the past, the Trump/Kushner plan can’t be a starting point for honest negotiations. Your idea of fairness is to start with an accord which has all the wishlists of one side and build upon that? Who would like to have a country which looks like Swiss cheese and will be completely dependent economically and safety wise of the benevolence of a stronger neighbor/patron?

  199. @FCH Fairness is a concept that is irrelevant in international politics. Israel agreed to the partition plan of 48 that would make it look like "swiss cheese", after being promised much more initially(including what is now Jordan) because they had a more pragmatic leadership that wanted statehood above anything else. When you make bad choices and miss opportunities your situation gets worse, when you do it for almost a century you will find yourself in dire straits. It's true on a personal level and I don't see why it will be different here.

  200. Mr. Stephens hindsight re: the Palestinians rejection of reasonable solutions are correct. However, this recent grand stand offer, fails in all areas to entice the Palestinians to negotiate. Having said that, their leadership has continually failed to look out for the welfare of their people and continue to stick their head in the sand instead of negotiating. This is a complicated issue-a better deal is needed; however, this could be a step toward starting negotiations. Hamas remains an entirely different problem and obstacle to pulling off such negotiations.

  201. I am a strong, life-long supporter of Israel, but this is not a "peace plan" at all. Certainly not when the other party to the past 70 years of hostilities has had no role in shaping it and flat out rejects it. The proposed Palestinian "state" is no state at all, much less a "sovereign" one. The crucial aspects of sovereignty are the ability to defend borders and govern within them without interference. Under the "plan," Israel alone is defining the borders; and Israel will always have the power to intervene as it sees fit. Stephens is right that the Palestinian leaders have been an obstacle peace, none more than Arafat in 2000. Nonetheless, the only viable, lasting peace will emerge from negotiations between the parties -- no matter how long that might take. As for Israel's future under this "plan," it can pretend that annexed territories are henceforth part of Israel. but there are still 450 million Arabs -- and 80 million Iranians -- in the neighborhood who don't accept that. That was the underlying problem in 1948, and it still is.

  202. @John Burke The Palestinians reject everything. They only want all of Israel. That is a folly. Israel is the home of the Jewish people. Full stop. You are right there are 450 million Arabs. They have all of Arabia and more. The Jews have a tiny place, the size of New Jersey. Leave them alone. Let them continue to prosper. Ben Gurion accepted a tiny Israel in 1947/8 knowing it it would make him look reasonable in the eyes of the world and that it would be rejected by the Arabs anyway. He was right. Seventy two years later, his vision is far more successful than even the most optimistic person could have hoped. Seventy two years later, some parties in the Arab world are starting to realize this philosophy of making due with less, stopping hatred of the other and getting on with work to make the desert bloom while making lives better, is preferable to the perpetual Palestinian cries of woe is me. Wake up! Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are starting to do so.

  203. Thank you for your clearly articulated state of affairs. Most people with views on this subject have never been to Israel and are not aware of the numerous efforts Israel has made for peace overt the past 50 years (think Gaza, Bark and Olmert). Many of the comments to your article are emotional bluster. The current state of affairs is the outcome of all the NO responses to numerous peace proposals by the Palestinian officials. It is time for the Palestinian people to accept reality and move on with their lives so they can leave in peace and prosperity.

  204. @Errol Errol, how much time have you spent talking to Palestinians, listening to their side?

  205. @Errol And most people with views on this subject have never been to Gaza. Have you? I lived in Israel for 18 months and travelled in and out of the West Bank and Gaza every working day. This was a rare and eye-opening experience. As a colleague who lived in Israel for 6 years said, after spending 3 days in Gaza: "If Iived in Gaza I'd become a terrorist too."

  206. @Errol The reality is that the entire world, including most American Jews, strongly condemn the way a far-right Israeli government is treating its Palestinian citizens, and disapproves of this unilateral plan (not a deal, because without negotiations there is no deal, and without a deal, terrorism will undoubtedly continue). And as long as Republicans prefer to put their head in the sand, nothing with ever get better.

  207. “Living history backwards” should be the motto of the Republican Party. It drags America backwards at every opportunity, from environmental protection to civil rights to scientific research. The so-called peace plan, which was soundly rejected by the Palestinians, was simply a blatant attempt to salvage the political ambitions of an impeached president and indicted prime minister.

  208. Stevens doesn’t car. He has never stood for Justice or Decency, only for Greed, Oligarchy and Power

  209. No one ever claimed Palestinian leaders were smart or good negotiators. Is the proposal fair? Probably not. Only the two principles can resolve the issue, not a third party. If one or both of the parties refuses to negotiate the problem will stay unresolved. Palestinians were offered multiple opportunities for peace with Israel and refused, believing acceptance would hasten their death (Sadat), or suffer enmity of all Muslim countries. For both parties this failure has had benefits. It preserves the hope for Palestinians they will someday eradicate Israel, and occupy the entire country, sending Israelis back to Europe, America and elsewhere. It preserves the hope for Israelis that Palestinians will grow weary of an uncertain, difficult existence and will focus on the economic and social benefits of exchanging peace and security for dreams of statehood. This Trump fantasy of achieving Mid-East peace will be filed with the border wall Mexico is paying to construct, the demolition of Kim's nuclear missile program, China's cessation of intellectual property theft, and eliminating the national debt in eight years. Getting tired of winning.

  210. The plan is based on the principle that both sides will be better off if accepted or worse off if not accepted. That's a good principle. However, one side (i.e. Israel) will be so much better off once accepted than the other that emotionally it will always be perceived as a win-lose deal. And that is not a solid foundation for a sustainable and lasting solution to the problem. If Kushner had been just a little bit more understanding of the emotional needs of the Palestinians and, for example, asked for the clearance of just 1 or 2 of the 15 major, illegal (and many more smaller ones) Isrsaeli settlements on Palestiian land in the West Bank, the reaction by the Palestinians might have been much more favourable. What a missed opportunity.

  211. That’s where negotiation comes in ... to reject a plan in advance is arrogant and only leads to more pain ... so sad.

  212. I have read so many articles over the years about how Palestinians have forfeited less-than ideal opportunities for statehood and peace with Israel, and it is true that each time they refuse the deals, they lose more. But the successful deals are hard to come by while when one party holds all the cards, and the other party holds nothing. Further underscoring the failure of these deals is that the they are constructed and administered through the same tactics that brought on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the first place: Outside nation-state influences with a vested interest in Israel's development and with centuries of experience of marginalizing those who were in the way. We do not want to face how our imperialist tendencies continue to function globally, but the Palestinians know it all too well first hand. I would love to blame Jared Kushner and the Trump administration, but the fact is nearly every U.S. administration has concocted deals that showed astonishing talent for marginalization. This deal is no different. It is designed exclusively for one side and it will undoubtedly succeed in furthering conflict.

  213. @Tom Nimen When the UN was considering partition, this probably apocryphal statement was attributed to Ben Gurion: "I'll take a piece of land the size of a tablecloth as long as it can be a Jewish state." Such was the powerlessness of the Jews in Palestine versus the Arabs in Palestine. The Jews took everything that was offered, no matter how little (Israel was just 9 miles wide at one section). The Arabs turned down everything, insisting on all or none. They got none. Then the Arabs lost all the wars--offensive & defensive. Might may not make right, but history never favors the losers--even before they turn down all offers of peace.

  214. The Palestinians didn't reject this deal because they're letting history pass them by. They rejected this deal because it was a terrible deal, as they have with each of the many terrible deals they have been given. Trump's plan was designed to be so bad that the PA would have no choice but to say no--thus plunging the Palestinians into another PR quagmire and strengthening Netanyahu's election prospects by making him out to be the levelheaded dealmaker in the room. It's all theater. Mr. Stephens misunderstands the realities of the Palestinian predicament and misreads its history. Say what you will about political obstinance, but you can't accuse Abbas and his cabinet of being inconsistent.

  215. @Gabriel Yes, the Palestinians are letting history pass them by, as they have for the previous 70 years. They passed up on far more favorable deals in favor of a "one to the exclusion of the other" proposition calling for the eradication of Israel. The consequences of this flawed decision making is that Palestinians are rejecting their final opportunity for independent statehood. They cannot realistically expect to militarily defeat Israel and much of the Arab world sharing Israel's wariness of Iran, are moving toward an "alliance of convenience" and trade relations with Israel. In a few short years, the aspiration of Palestinian statehood will finally be dead!

  216. What was so bad about 1947 and 2000? The Left in the West is not doing the Palestinians any favors by encouraging rejectionist.

  217. There are strong differences between 1947, 1967, and 2000 offers and the current offer. Especcially the offer made to Arafat in 2000---who prospered from the chaos of the struggle with the Israelis and relished continuing his leadership role---the offer a large contiguous state with E.Jerusalem as its capital: to reject that offer was selfish, Arafat ignoring the needs of the Palestinians to keep his own power intact. But I fear the present Kushner-Trump plan is too one-sided, giving nothing of substance--such as overeignty and a state with its own capital--to the Palestinians.

  218. @shimr The Palestinians have consistently rejected far more generous offers which would have provided them sovereignty and a capital in East Jerusalem. However, as compromise is not in the Palestinian playbook, they have exhausted their best options. As one former Israeli Foreign Minister cynically and correctly noted, "Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." Have the Palestinians ever taken the initiative of making a proposed peace plan? Never to my knowledge!

  219. Any agreement that materializes ( unlikely in my lifetime) won't be for the purposes of "peace." Frankly, the West Bank is already relatively peaceful and is a tripadvisor.com vacation spot at this point. It would just be a separation agreement which may make sense ( certainly for Israel). It is unfortunate that the PA won't offer up there own version of an agreement , but quite telling. Sunnis and Shia have been at war with each other for 1600 years. There is a clear strong remaining psychology on the PA side that ANY agreement with Israel would be a loss in a " cause" of some sort. So applying a Western view doesn't work here. This is why Trump's moves on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights make sense for peace. The PA will never come to their own realization that Israel is here to stay unless reality is crystal clear. Amazingly, it is for many other Arab countries in the region, but the PA just can't see it. All of this is just what it is. But the world needs to move on. The situation in specifics is very unique, but the status quo may be the best direction at this time.

  220. @Mark No agreement proposal from Israel - none at all - has given the Palestinians a semblance of their own state in the fashion that was once promised by Britain and the UN. Any of the so called solutions have been made out to secure the jewish Israel as a sovereign and jewish state for ever. In Africa such a system was called Apartheid. No "other side" would ever want that.

  221. What are you saying?? The PA is crystal clear with their plan: 1967 borders, east Jerusalem as a capital, a negotiated agreement about the refugees. That position hasn't changed in 30y. They've recognized the right of Israel to exist for even longer. Where do you get your news from?

  222. Thats like saying because Doncic has a scoring average of 30 pnts the next game he plays he will at least score 20. What if their playing the Bucks with number 2 defense in the league? These types of ‘statistics’ are always nonsense yet somehow they are very popular. Trumps ‘proposal’ is to make swiss cheese out of Palastine. I don’t think a lot of people are considering it.

  223. Who could have guessed that Jared (Mr. Ivanka) Kushner could come up with such a one sided plan? Apparently not Bret Stephens.

  224. In what escrow account has the 50 billion been deposited and at what interest rate ? Then we can decide if this is a sincere real estate offer.

  225. What Stephens is describing is basically a catch-22. He suggests that Palestinians should accept much less than the global consensus agrees they deserve in hopes that more won't be taken later. Nobody would ever accept those conditions. He also overstates what has been on the table in the last 20-30 years and rejected. The West Bank and Gaza in how they relate to Israel is an illustrative case study. The West Bank leadership has been basically moderate and have gotten nothing in return. Instead, Israel continues to build settlements and annex land. In Gaza the leadership is militant and they have also gotten nothing. How can the Palestinians settle when both tracks yield nothing. It's kind of Kafkaesque at this point.

  226. @Tiago The Palestinian Authority, soon to be dissolved if Mr. Abbas has his way, is infamous for its "Pay for Slay" subsidies to the families of terrorists killed, or imprisoned for their acts. The U.S., under the "Taylor Force Act (named for an American veteran murdered while visiting Israel)" cut off all U.S. aid to Palestinians while subsidies of terrorism continue. Hamas, which promotes "Border Riots" in attempts to invade Israel, is likewise uninterested in a "two state" solution. The Palestinians have rejected far more favorable solutions in favor of continuous war against Israel and must suffer the consequences of their aggression. It appears that a Palestinian state, in any form, is not in the cards!

  227. The present 'solution' offered by the US and Israel and it's supporters forget that there are real people in Palestine - not just the Hamas, the PLO and the jihadis - who have aspirations of their own which would be more legitimate than those represented by these 'rulers'. Of course, none from Palestine have been involved in the process, and the tone of the article suggests that there is no way out for them but to accept whatever is thrown at them. That some front line Arab states have welcomed this initiative is not surprising since the US is involved in it. Israel does have a right to sovereignty, but so do the Palestenians.

  228. @Yoganandh Most Palestinians are not Jihadi terrorists, but they are held hostage by them. Most want no more than to work, support their children and educate them, which is difficult when terrorists turn schools into "propaganda factories," which advocate the eradication of Israel and the murder of Israeli civilians. Sadly, most Palestinians are captives of self-appointed, unelected Governors, such as the leadership of Hamas and "Palestinian President for Life" Mahmoud Abbas, now in. the 16th year of the four year term to which he was elected in 2005. Most Palestinians would benefit from real democracy in. which they can participate in elections, choose their own leaders and free themselves from the ideological tyrants who would enslave them in pursuit of their Imperial ambitions.

  229. "From the river to the sea" has been the Palestinian's negotiating strategy. How's it working out for them? How quickly people forget the missed opportunities-1948, Camp David, Taba. Had they taken any one of them, think about how much better off they'd be today.

  230. Mr. Stephens writes, "The Jewish state has thrived in part because, dayenu, it has always been prepared to make do with less." For those in the readership who aren't Jewish, or who do not know Hebrew, or who have never attended a Passover Seder, the use of _dayenu_ deserves a larger context than the one Mr. Stephens suggests. _Dayenu_ translates (roughly) as "it would have been sufficient." In this sense, yes, Mr. Stephens's use of the word is apt. But the word is the refrain of a song that is part of the Passover Seder. Each lyric is constructed along the lines of "If God had done for us, the Jewish People, [A] but not the even greater thing [B], it would have been sufficient." "If God had done for us [B] but not the even greater thing [C], it would have been sufficient." And so forth. The song enumerates the 15 divine miracles concerning the Jewish people's redemption from slavery in Egypt, survival in the desert, receiving the Torah, the initial conquest of the Holy Land in Biblical times, and the establishment of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The song _Dayenu_ is not about "making do with less," it is about expressing gratitude for each part of a _complete whole._ The arc of Jewish history and memory is built on the twin ideas of _redemption_ and _restoration._ In this regard it too looks backward. It is these twin ideas that fueled for decades the maximalist position of Israel's Likud & newer more-extreme political parties, as well as the settler movement.

  231. @A. Reader Thank you. This is extremely illuminating and helpful context.

  232. The peace proposal are manifestly unfair; the Palestinians are expected to give up a huge swath of territory, they have to accept that Jerusalem cannot be their capital city, and they have to give up elements of their sovereignty. Brett Stephens thinks that this is worth it because this is as good as it is ever going to get for the Palestinians. One thing he forgets is national pride. A nation has to respect itself if it wants to exist .Palestine would not exist for long on the terms being offered.

  233. @Robbie The earlier offers made under UNGAR 181 in 1947, the offer made following the 1967 "Six Day War," the offer of the Barak Government, rejected by Arafat in 2000 before engaging in mass terrorism and War Crimes and the 2008 offer of the Olmert Government, were all considerably more fair than the current offer, but they were all rejected by Arafat and Abbas. This is known as the "Law of Diminishing Returns" in economics. Albert Einstein defined it differently:"Stupidity consists of continuously repeating the same failed actions, expecting a different result." The Palestinians are continuously stripping themselves of viable options, of which this is the last one!

  234. Is it better to have no proposal at all or a proposal with no counteroffer?

  235. @Bruce L A counter-offer is usually in order if the original proposal is unacceptable. That is what Mr. Abbas refused to do in 2008 in response to the Olmert Government offer. Eight years earlier, Yasser Arafat rejected the 2000 Barak Government offer , without counter-offer, before initiating the "Second Intifada," resulting in over 1.000 Israeli civilian deaths in. bus and cafe bombings. The deliberate targeting of civilians is defined as a War Crime under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Arafat was unable to make the transition from terrorist to statesman. Avarice, terrorism and stupidity, not Israel and the U.S., are the primary opponents of Palestinian statehood!

  236. This "Peace Plan" was a NO deal from conception, the Palestinians are just saying no to a no. The Palestine question will only be resolved by serious negotiations and concessions by the leadership of both Palestine and Israel, foreign leaders like Trump posturing to score some election points won't solve anything..

  237. @JCA The best result that Palestinians could have obtained, was the original partition of the British Mandate as proposed in 1947. They went to war in 1948, lost and forfeited potential territory. Following the 1967 "Six Day War," Israel offered return. of ALL captured land in exchange for peace. This was rejected in the infamous "Three Noes (No negotiation, recognition, or peace with Israel)" of the 1967 Arab League Khartoum Conference, in effect, ceding all captured land to Israel, as no rational belligerent would surrender land to a wartime adversary. Under International Law, Israel, as the victorious belligerent of that war may retain possession of captured land until possession is modified by treaty. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis (Latin: As you possess, you may possess henceforth) In 1979, Egypt abandoned the "Three Noes," and after a withdrawal period, resumed sovereign control of the Sinai Peninsula. The next most beneficial result the Palestinians could have obtained was the 2008 Olmert Government offer of 97% of what they demanded, which Mr. Abbas rejected out of hand. As the Palestinians continue to reject offers, in favor of futile terrorist violence, the size and value of the offers diminish. That is the consequence of Palestinians treating stupidity as a virtue!

  238. Mr. Stephens writes: "The record of Arab-Israeli peace efforts can be summed up succinctly: Nearly every time the Arab side said no, it wound up with less." This is true. But it's also true that every "peace" offer favored the Israelis at the expense of the Palestinians. Every single offer took away Palestinians land and gave it to the Jews. Native Americans said yes to US treaty offers that took away their land, and look where it got them.

  239. Why are there always others proposing these solutions to the Palestinians? Wouldn't it be more logical if they were involved and their ideas and input were also taken into account. Sit everyone at the table and hash it out. Come on, Mr. Art of the Deal, isn't that how it's done? We never hear anything other than "this is what we proposed" and the Palestinians said "never" and then it's status quo for a couple more years. Seems as if that's the result some want.

  240. @Crimson Clover It certainly would would be beneficial for Palestinian self-interests to take the initiative of proposing solutions and resuming the stalled direct negotiations, rather than outright rejection, as has been their history. When they are unwilling and unable to defer gratification for long term peace and statehood objectives, to demand "we want everything now," that shows that they are incapable of rational decision making. When. Palestinians prove themselves incapable of rational decision making, by default, they defer those decisions to others acting responsibly to promote regional stability. If Palestinians do not become part of the solution, they continue to be part of the problem!

  241. @Crimson Clover Because the Palestinians want to drive the Israelis into the sea. They want it so much they can't even bring themselves to lie about it. That's why no one consults them.

  242. What kind of "negotiation" only invites one side to the table, dictates all the terms and then says "take it or leave it" to the other side? Like so many things from the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, this Punch and Judy show makes a farce of true diplomacy. As for your assertion that "Things rarely go well for those who try to live history backward..." Look who's talking. The irony is so rich it would hardly seem worth mentioning, but I suppose in the current climate that's too much to ask.

  243. A plan formulated by one leader being tried for abuse of power and facing removal of office and another facing a similar fate for criminal acts committed in office hardly appears worthy of consideration. A one-sided plan, benefitting one side at the expense of the weaker side is nothing to crow about. This is nothing more than a new chapter in The Art of the Deal or an episode of The Apprentice with the winning toady standing beside his hero. The son-in-law with no diplomatic, political, or pact-building experience proved his mettle seeing the "negotiations" as another transaction with his side holding all the cards, like being a slumlord in his former life before his appointment as czar of everything with responsibility for nothing.

  244. Mr Stephens, It's rich irony that the tag line for article is "Things rarely goes well for those who try to live history backward." Isn't looking backward the entire basis for a Jewish homeland in Palestine? Setting aside the irony, it is not bad advice. Perhaps Mr. Stephens can dispense some advice to ordinary Palestinian parents on how they would explain accepting this "deal" to their children. Why at this time it is better to accept less and how to do that without losing their pride, dignity and humanity. I am not being facetious. I really think it would make a good column.

  245. Nostalgia as a policy does not work out well. Nor do opportunities of yesterday reappear when seen in light of today. I am a very strong supporter of Israel, but I am not alone in seeing that many policies have not had a "reverse" button, and policies of settlement lead to their own predictable end results. Russian relocation in Soviet occupied lands created the rationale for Ukraine occupation and the cover story for occupation of the Black Sea port. Power projection can be by arms, but it can be backed up by the rationale that occupation is really protection of those move there. Will there be a day of reconciliation? Not as long as worsening proposals are designed to ensure rejection, and the march goes on.

  246. This is a great piece by Bret, and something the Palestinians should truly consider. They have no leverage with which to bargain. This is the best deal they'll get. Just as the last offers were better than this current plan, so too will any future offers be less-than this. Israel can play hardball. They hold the cards. The status-quo is much better for them right now than the Palestinians, meaning they can remain as-is for longer without suffering. They have no incentive to give concessions. Palestine (and many commenters here) need to wake up. There is no reason for Israel to go back to the 1967 lines and they will never do so. Accept that Palestine has lost and take what you can get, because it will continue to be less and less in the future.

  247. Dear Bret, the whole idea of Israel having the right to expulse Palestinians from their homes, where they had been living for centuries, IS an attempt to "try to live history backward", as it can only be justified by referring to the fact that 2,000 years earlier, Jews (and many others) were living there, and for some time Jews (in part together with Romans) rules those regions. When the Palestinians say "no" to existing plans, for half a century now, they do so because what happened during the last decades is unacceptable for them. The good news is that the entire world except certain US Republicans, agree with them. The bad news is that the American people regularly allow those Republicans to control the biggest military in the world, which basically allows the US and Israel to "try to live history backward" as much as they like. THAT is why the conflict is still not resolved. The ONLY solution is to finally stop wanting to see history ended when Christ was born (even God would refuse that idea ...), and to take the last 2,000 years into account too. And the only possibility for peace to ever happen (not only inside Israel, but for the entire region), is for a US president to work together with ALL parties involved - including, obviously, the Palestinian leaders, AND at least the UN's permanent members and the NATO countries. Unilaterally proposing manifestly unjust "plans" will only make the entire world say "no" more often - to Israel, AND to the US.

  248. @Ana Luisa It's been over 70 years since the founding of Israel, and over a century since Jews started settling in numbers in Palestine. If you want to start history at 1 AD, 5% of it belongs to them now, and it's the 5% that counts-- the most recent. At this point, Israel is a fact on the ground-- which most European peace initiatives completely ignore-- and one which won't agree to its own destruction, which is about the only thing the Palestinians will accept. Ultimately, Israel, and Palestine before it were founded on mankind's oldest right, and the only right you can really count on: the right of conquest.

  249. "That ought to go for the Palestinians as well. The old cliché about Palestinians never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity has, sadly, more than a bit of truth in it. Nobody ought to condemn them to make the same mistake again." The Palestinians missed all these offers, because what has been offered in the past, similar to this one, are offers they have to refuse. So welcome to another century of conflict.

  250. The problem is that, deep down, Palestinians want nothing less than the destruction of Israel. Period. They consistently say "no" because, deep down, they will never be satisfied with anything less. And that's why they will always be on the losing end of their relationship with Israel.

  251. @Rich -- Deep down, in the same place, what have Israelis wanted? And they've been getting it: take it all and expel the rest of the people to camps or reservations of what little the Israelis don't want to take.

  252. @Rich So you are saying Palestinians would rather live lives of desperation--without any hope for the future--rather than come to the table and negotiate a fair and dignified agreement--because they want the total destruction of Israel? Think about it. The idea is absurd. It is a canard that supporters of the status quo have been using to justify the treatment of Palestinians that is tantamount to South African-style Apartheid. Is it possible that animus toward Israel might change if the reprehensible policies--so many of them violations of international law--were to end? It seems to me that would be a good starting point.

  253. @Patrick J. Cosgrove Palstinians have sent their CHILDREN in as suicide bombers, and been proud of them. Yes, I believe their hatred for Israel's very existence would cause them to act against their best interests. Also, as I replied above: One has to defend oneself. Decades of attacks, including child suicide bombers, forces one to take forceful action. What country wouldn't do the same? That is not defending all of Israel's actions. But Palestinians have shown time and again they will attack Israelis at any time.

  254. I think Mr. Stephens is comical premising that Palestinians are trying to live history backwards; compared to who - the children of European Jews moved to a European colony that ancient ancestors were exiled from 2,000 years ago? The tragic folly of argument is that it fundamentally disregards dignity and human rights for all the parties involved. Moreover, the argument blaming Palestinians for their predicament has its roots in a perverse notion of nationalism- blood and soil - that continues as a stain on our world, and seems to reek from the highest reaches of our government, as it did from mid-20th century European dictatorships.

  255. @Isaac The majority of Israelis are not children of "European Jews" but rather of Middle Eastern Jews (from Morocco, Yemen, etc.). Many found living conditions intolerable in those countries and were subjected to physical violence. I'm not sure I agree with Steven's assessment, but I had to address this.

  256. @Glenn Dynner According to my grandmother, who grew up in pre ww2 Palestine.. she had Jewish and Christian neighbors. It was the European Jews that came in and destroyed her world, making them wandering, penny-less refugees. I don't think we would see the same stark racism if the there was more diversity among the Isrealis.

  257. Mr Stephens mademe do a little internet research about who had said "no" to which proposal when on wich occasion. This simple "doing the homework first"-style attempt finally ended in a disaster. There is no secured base of undisputed facts everywhere you look at. If one side says "it has been that way" the other one automatically responded "No, never!" The source of all conventional popular wisdom of today, Wikipedia, stated The neutrality of this section is disputed.

  258. @ws (tbc due to a tecnical problem: ) referred to "Responsability for failure" in the article about Camp David Summit. In this "disputed section" there is even no typical "the ones say, so the others so" reporting. Each person who has written a book or given a statement about the subject says something different what had happened then, let alone who is to blame for the outcome for which reason. This is not only the case for the main opponents but for the more or less neutral parties involved also. Beside this is no highlight of historiography this leads to the question whether it really make sense to refer to a statement "Everytime Palestinians Say "No", They Lose" when all bystanders not directly involved in negotiations cannot really know who has said "no" to whom ever to what ever? It just looks more that all participants said "No" to all versions that did not comply to roughly almost 99 % of their specific demands. In such situation this approach is leading nowhere. Particularly this is not leading to any viable (positive) solution to agree on this time but to an additional historic minefield. Beyond this: How can an agreement be hammered out when there seems to be something like a common refusal even to analyse the reasons for recent failures? I can´t tell. In substance the ultimate position of Palestinians seems to be: "Alright, do full annexation! You will see what this will mean to your state." Israel seems to underestimate full consequences all the time.

  259. Many commenters have pointed out that this deal favors Israel, and it clearly does. So what are the Palestinians proposing? What deals have they offered? When they put forward something other than driving the Israelis into the sea then maybe people will listen to their concerns.

  260. @KM In real life, the UN has condemned Israel multiple times already, for its treatment of its Arab citizens. And NO Israel or US ally is supporting Trump's fake peace idea (not a deal nor agreement nor treaty, as there have been no negotiations at all). Peace is the result of HARD WORK. If the biggest military in the world supports a repressive and extremely unjust Israeli government for 5 decades, then a LOT of diplomacy will be needed before its victims start wanting to accept them on their lands again. THAT is what the history of violent conflicts and their resolution shows.

  261. @KM They have offered a return to the 1967 borders. And they do so today. The Arab countries have all signed on to this. None of them have given explicit support to Trump's plan, and if they do, they risk being overthrown.

  262. There is no reason to think that the Netanyahu faction will stop at anything short of annexation to form "Greater Israel". The only choice that Arab Palestinians have been given is to say yes to this.

  263. @skeptonomist -- Actually, their only real choice is a civil rights movement for equal rights in the one state solution now created. That must include the refugees and all the Palestinians, not just the small packets Trump seeks to line in to Israel.

  264. Palestinians and Arabs did not wind up with less, decade after decade. Recent history shows that they won the approval of the entire world community, including a majority of American Jews, whereas countless UN resolutions condemn Israel for its unacceptable treatment of its Arab citizens. At the same time, most Trump Middle East policies have strongly empowered Iran and now also Syria - both important allies of the Palestinians. Of course, as the US has the world's biggest military, it can use its military power to enslave the Palestinians even more. But look at Afghanistan and Iraq: each time another Republican tells us that you can solve a conflict using bombs and other weapons, he doesn't solve anything, quite on the contrary. And history shows that terrorism and guerilla wars (which is how those with less weapons fight back against the militarily stronger side) can continue for decades. A peace deal means creating a MUTUAL PERCEPTION OF concessions and vital improvement, and a MUTUAL RECOGNITION of injustice and a fair solution. You can't obtain something like that through a fake real-estate trick where you don't even talk with anyone, and just decide to call a town outside Jerusalem "East Jerusalem". It's because Trump has NO real negotiation experience at all that he didn't even try to get a deal - on a southern border wall, on repealing and replacing healthcare, on comprehensive immigration reform, and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  265. @Ana Luisa Imagine thinking that a no consequence bombing of the highest military leader describes an action that "strongly empowered" a nation.

  266. This is one example of where opposing anything Trump does does not serve us well. The Obama deal with Iran was not perfect but was good enough to be supported. This potential deal is in that same class.

  267. @david -- The Obama deal was meant to be step one in an ongoing course of making peace on other issues, gaining the time in which to do that. This "deal" is just the opposite. It is meant to further the drive for destruction of the Palestinians. It is just the next attack.

  268. Mr. Stephens characterizes Palestinian leaders as "kleptocratic and repressive". That may be true but how does that make them any different than the leader of Israel?

  269. @Plainsman Israel's leaders certainly have their problems, but there is absolutely no evidence that they value their personal power more than the future of the State of Israel.

  270. Is this a Peace Deal or Ultimatum? I think the latter. This sounds like a take it or leave it offer in the form of a buyout. Typical corporate strategy when downsizing when you're offered an early exit package with the understanding that if you don't take the offer, you may be fired later with no benefits. Israel will do everything in the "deal" anyway. This offer just lets them feel good about themselves.

  271. Bret Stephens is making the false assumption that everything the Palestinians have said 'no' to they could have received if only they had said 'yes'. In 1947, the Partition Plan would have created an Arab state alongside a Jewish state. However, the Jewish state would have been established on about half of the land that the Zionists had claimed, and would have had an Arab minority of more than 40%, which would have become a majority in a matter of a few decades. We have no reason to believe that the Zionists would have been content to make do with such a diminished state where they would have ultimately become, yet again, a minority. To the contrary, there's ample evidence that the Zionist leadership intended to use this partition plan as a starting point, not a final destination, which is indeed what happened. For the following decades no Israeli government had any intention of recognizing Palestinian rights, let alone offer independence. Israel had no interest in any concessions. Only Palestinian struggle brought the Israelis to the negotiation table. But no Israeli negotiator ever made an offer he can deliver. Barak's government was moribund before he even left for the Camp David negotiations. The subsequent Taba negotiations took place weeks before the elections in which he was destined to be defeated by a landslide. Olmert's offer came days before he was indicted and resigned. A Palestinian 'yes' would only end their claims without receiving anything in exchange.

  272. Re "... the disarming of Hamas." The above words are all that's needed to indicate that the proposal is not in any way serious. I don't disagree that the Palestinian side has repeatedly shot itself in the foot with reflexive rejections of workable — and imperfect; that's how such things go in the real world — plans. Arafat especially missed the boat in 2000. But the Trump-Netanyahu "plan" *is* a genuine nonstarter, and if the Palestinians were to say yes or even seriously consider it, they would be no better off than they are today. It is, in fact, a political ploy designed for Jewish voters in Florida, as Stephens puts it.

  273. Can anyone cite an example where the Palestinians made a serious effort to achieve peace? Not 1948, not Camp David, not Taba etc. There position has always been maximalist-basically "from the river to the sea."

  274. @Sam Goldberg Arafat knew all too well that Palestinian population grows much faster than Israeli-Jewish population. Give it 20, 30, 50 years a small minority Jewish population will control the Arab population. That will become unsustainable. Arafat will achieve in death what he couldn't achieve in life.

  275. They lose if they say yes, they lose if they say no. At least if they say no they don't bless their own disenfranchisement.

  276. Also, it’s absurd to ask the Palestinians to make peace with Israel on the basis that they will be abused even further if they don’t. The victims of oppression cannot make peace with their oppressor until they are free of the violence and oppression the occupation brings to them. Asking them to accept their imprisonment or their human rights will be further trampled is abusive in itself.

  277. Every time Israeli voters don't say no, in sufficient numbers, to rationalizing the 1990s assassination of their Nobel Peace award-winning and peace-making prime minister, to clearing land by ethnic cleansing in order to seize it for settlement by religious extremists, and to glorying in might-makes-right defiance of international law and human rights, they needlessly doom their country to no-end-in-sight instability and fear. How anyone can for moment honestly believe that these policies, which have been those of the country's now longest reigning prime minister for decades, are in the interest of the United States, boggles the mind. But, of course, there is something still less justifiable and more bizarre: Americans who should know better failing to firmly and effectively reject their most unqualified and shameful president ever, who is also the only US president to have given active and unqualified blank check support to the unfortunate, long-lasting blunder of the minority of Israeli voters who have enabled the perpetuation of that prime minister. This is not trying to "live history backwards," but it is sleepwalking through it.

  278. If the Palestinians say "Yes" and things improve, this would undercut their ability to complain. Having things improve represents a significant risk to the status quo. It's not a whole lot different from people who are physically ill but who won't give up the food and the habits that have made them sick.

  279. According to coverage from the Guardian: Human Rights Watch said the “long-moribund” peace process had become “a fig leaf for Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians”. The Palestinian Prime Minister aptly described it ‘as plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect Netanyahu from prison. It is not a Middle East peace plan.’ It really is a disappointing and shabby offer in every sense.

  280. When has excluding a party to talks then publicly humiliating them ever brought lasting peace? Iran which supports the Palestinian cause is pressing forward to acquire nuclear weapons. Is world war in the Middle East not far behind?

  281. Since it's perceived as Trump's deal, the American Left will reject it. Since it's perceived as Israel's deal, the Palestinians will reject it.

  282. @AACNY Since it is perceived as a good deal by the American Right, they have no problem making it with the Devil. Let's agree to differentiate ourselves shall we? The American Left wants nothing to do with anything the Devil wishes to pursue. The American Right turns it's blind eye to sexual assault, corrupt charities, corrupt friends, expanding the swamp it was said to drain, and jumps in with both feet whenever the Devil has a half good idea that he says is "perfect". Many of us don't believe in Heaven or Hell, but we know who the Devils are. That's not a group we should plan on making agreements with, no matter how "acceptable" they seem to be.

  283. International terrorism this century really, really changed my perspective on this issue. I went from slightly relieved upon Netanyahu's defeat in 1999 to seeing Bibi as a model world leaders. This is for the Palestinians and their partners to lose. If they had adopted a strategy of non-violence, most of the world, I think, would be eating from their hands in declaring the current situation as intolerable. As it is their cause has the support of the US Democrat Party (based on comments by its Presidential contenders as well as The Squad) and UK's Labour Party, for instance.

  284. Brett Stephens needs to not write about the Middle East. Every column he writes starts from the premise that the Palestinians need to govern themselves according to the colonial directives of the west. He seems incapable of putting himself in the shoes of native people who have a inherent right of self-determination. Under the Jared Kushner plan, the Palestinians will never be sovereign. Stephens would never ask that of the Israelis and he should be ashamed to make that demand of the Palestinians.

  285. Also, every time the Palestinians say yes, they lose. They suspended the rocket attacks for two years in exchange for Israel’s ceasing to expand the settlements, and Israel continued to expand the settlements. In the original partition that Stephens scolds the Palestinians for not accepting, the U.N. simply stole half the territory of Palestine and awarded it to the new country of Israel. And Israel has gone on stealing more and more of their land ever since. What people on earth would have accepted this without a fight?

  286. "Critics of Israeli policy often insist that a Palestinian state is necessary to preserve Israel as a Jewish democracy. True enough." Far from being "true enough", the looming end to the Jewish democracy is what really has people like Bret Stephens desperately calling for approval of this plan. The time is coming when Israel will have to decide whether it wants to be Jewish state or a Jewish democratic state. It will not be able to be both without a peace deal.

  287. Spot on. The Palestians supported the Ottoman empire in WW1, the Axis in WW2, the Soviet union in the cold war, Iraq in the first gulf war. Their leaders have consistantly put them on the wrong side of history. And now even the Arab countries value Israel as a potential ally against Iran far more the Palestians. They have little leverage and it will continue to get worse. They need to understand how weak their hand is and make a deal, any deal. Other than the General Assemby of the UN and super liberal college campuses in US they have no allies left, two completely powerless groups. But their leaders fear telling the people had bad it is and how poorly they have been lead. Rejecting the Clinton deal was criminal on their part.

  288. Palestinians invariable live to lose due to the leadership chosen and an insistent desire to complain and feel wronged by history rather than through their own choices. Instead of being forcefully uprooted, the choice made has been to uproot themselves and fuel hatred. Much like minorities elsewhere around the globe, Palestinians have elected to believe the words of others regarding their circumstances rather than their own experience. Compounding their suffering, in the present day, is the smirking of the Left telling them the current pathway to statehood is inadequate, remiss, lacking the requisite bells and whistles as it emanates from the current White House which must not be given credit for bringing peace and stability to the region. It is time for the Palestinian people to reject the Left and select real borders and statehood. It is time to utilize their wonderful skills and talents and put down their weapons.

  289. Bret could have easily sub titled his piece as "those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Some may remember but most won't, that it was Bill Clinton who had a very good deal on the table for the Palestinians at Camp David. He went to bed thinking he had done it with the Palestinians basically getting most of what they wanted. However, by morning Arafat changed his mind, refused the deal and left. It has been downhill since.

  290. This plan reminds me of the plan Americans had for our Native Americans. A reservation here another one close by. We will "trade " your land for some great real estate in Oklahoma, or is it Egypt. You should be happy we took your land, look at what we have built on it! But don't hold your breath, if we need more of your land in the future we will take and and you should thank us for doing so. Sounds kind of hollow to me.