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Peace with conditions can be stifling

Filed on January 28, 2020

(Reuters)

Trump's attempt to strike a one-track deal, though flawed, is worth considering.

The Middle East peace deal rolled out by the Trump administration offers some sops to the Palestinians but does not go the distance for peace. Peace with conditions is not historic as Washington portrays it to be.

However, what's different about this deal is that it has some imagination and keeps the two-state solution alive. A Palestine state is still possible and can co-exist with Israel. There is hope for cessation of hostilities and President Donald Trump has promised the government of Palestine in the West Bank led by Mahmoud Abbas that the United States would be with it 'every step of the way' if it comes forward to accept the deal on the US and Israel's terms.

That's the niggling issue. In some aspects, this is a diplomatic overture by the Trump administration to the Palestinians while keeping Israel on its side. For Trump, there is much riding on its success on the domestic front ahead of presidential elections later this year as he hopes to contain the impeachment storm with another piece of showmanship that he hopes his voter base will buy into. However, parts of the plan were rejected earlier by the Palestinians, the main constituents, who are refusing to sell their rights and their land.

This is not some property that can be traded for peace and all the money in the world cannot purchase their dignity. A closer reading of its contents proves that this is a document of compromise that puts the onus on the Palestinians. Israel, meanwhile, remains a Jewish state and keeps Jerusalem.

With this deal, there will be pressure on the Palestinian leadership led by Abbas and also on countries like Egypt and Jordan who have peace treaties with Israel.

The US president managed to push his agenda through Jared Kushner as the Palestinian-Israeli issue of seven decades, the main cause of larger problems in the region, did not gain traction in recent years as violence in other Arab countries garnered the world's attention.

Protests for democracy and civil rights sparked by the events of the Arab Spring have subsumed the core cause. Palestine, however, remains in the crosshairs of conflict. Trump's attempt to strike a one-track deal, though flawed, is worth considering. The Palestinians should be open to discussions on its finer points.

The conditions thrown at them may appear stifling but pursuing peace is better than settling for the status quo.



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