Trump Has Turned the Israel-Palestinian Peace Process Into a Real Estate Deal
Published in The Washington Post
on January 29, 2020
Many American presidents have tried to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Only President Trump and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner have grasped how to break the logjam: Turn the peace process into a real estate deal.
That’s essentially what Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” launched to great fanfare Tuesday, is. Underneath all the rhetoric about ending conflict and bringing Palestinians a state is, at heart, a development project: Palestinians will sell core elements of their sovereignty — such as control of borders and having a military — to Israel, and we promise to make you rich! Just sign here on the bottom line; no money down!
Trump and Kushner know how to put the squeeze on their marks. They lined up the leaders of both of Israel’s main political parties to praise the deal just to show that Palestinians can’t hold out for a better deal after Israel’s March election. They lined up the deal’s bankers — Arab states such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — to show that the financing is in place. They made sure to include a detailed prospectus of the projected gains for Palestinians — double your GDP in 10 years! A new high-tech corridor in the Negev desert! — to tempt them to sign on the bottom line. The only thing missing was an artist’s sketch of what downtown Nablus could look like in a decade, with chic young Palestinians sipping espresso at a posh shawarma cafe.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.