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Trump Destroyed Any Hope of Israeli-Palestinian Peace — and Biden Can’t Rebuild It


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Source: The Intercept

Imagine a soccer match in which the goalie for one side, with a wink and a nod, decides to run off for coffee in the middle of the game. That was basically President Donald Trump’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past four years. The Trump administration gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an open-goal opportunity to run up the score on the Palestinians, with no resistance and lots of connivance from the United States.

With President-elect Joe Biden trudging onto the field, it’s likely the U.S. foreign policy establishment will seek a return to the Obama-era modus operandi: an emphasis on two states and maintaining the illusion of being an honest broker, even if in practice Israel is favored. There could be a few wrinkles, owing to Obama administration veterans’ frustrations about Israel’s actions around two failed Palestinian peace pushes, as well as the Iran nuclear deal. But Biden has historically been and will likely continue to be a traditional, Washington pro-Israel stalwart.

“Trump made clear once and for all that the U.S. is entirely pro-Israel. He removed the mask of the honest broker.”

It’s also possible that none of it will matter. The playing field of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be radically different than what Obama veterans left behind in 2017 — not least thanks to Trump leaving an open goal for the Israelis. The end result seems clear: yet another hefty nail in the coffin of the two-state solution, a result of radically altered facts on the ground green-lit by Trump — and unlikely to be reversed by Biden or any other U.S. president.

Over the past four years, Trump and his deputy-cum-son-in-law Jared Kushner helped Israel realize an incredible set of diplomatic and strategic gains at virtually no cost in concessions to the Palestinians. On a raft of policy areas, Trump suddenly dropped objections long held by bipartisan U.S. presidential administrations over decades. Establishing a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, annexing the disputed Golan Heights, ramping up illegal settlements, strangling humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, demolishing record numbers of West Bank homes, threatening to brand human rights organizations critical of Israel as anti-Semitic, and even scoring public recognition for Israel from several Arab states — these are just a few of the mind-blowing changes that took place under Trump. More remarkable still, these gifts were all handed to Israel by the author of “The Art of the Deal” without negotiating anything in return.

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