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Revive Trump’s ‘Vision’ for Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Palestinians rejected this two-state solution that’s the only proposal Israelis might accept.




By Michael Oren and Jeff Greenblatt

By agreeing to exchange a multiday cease-fire for the release of hostages, Israel is likely to come under mounting pressure to accept a more permanent truce. This would enable Hamas to get away with one mass murder while actively preparing for the next. Nevertheless, some policy makers viewed the agreement as a way to end the war, secure the remaining hostages’ freedom and alleviate the Palestinians’ suffering. President Biden has signaled his opposition to a complete pause—but that opposition may not be so steadfast. The White House is reportedly asking Israel to allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and agree to a “day after” plan that includes a so-called two-state solution.


Israel can expand aid shipments to Gaza, but it should unequivocally reject the creation of a Palestinian state while Hamas rules Gaza and a corrupt Palestinian Authority controls large parts of the West Bank. A Nov. 14 survey found that 75% of the public in the West Bank and Gaza supports the atrocities of Oct. 7 and wants to eliminate Israel entirely.

Yet if speaking about peace is helpful to Mr. Biden, it’s vital to recall that a U.S. proposal for a realistic two-state solution already exists and was approved by a previous Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.


The proposal is called “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”—or simply the vision. Presented by the Trump administration in 2020, it called for the establishment of a Palestinian state similar in size to the pre-1967 area of the West Bank and Gaza, with unprecedented investment in the Palestinian economy. The vision estimated that within a decade a million new jobs would be created, doubling Palestinian gross domestic product and significantly reducing the poverty rate. The vision provided for the integration of Palestinians into the regional and global economy and for major development projects in Gaza.


Israel, for its part, would receive the security provisions it needs to prevent attacks akin to Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault. Neither Jews nor Palestinians would be forced out of their homes, and both would be given access to their holy sites. Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli sovereignty with a capital created for the Palestinians in its eastern suburbs.


The vision also called for the construction of a high-speed rail line between the West Bank and Gaza, as well as a system of bridges, roads and tunnels between noncontiguous Palestinian territories in the West Bank. The Palestinians would have their own port in Gaza as well as access to Israeli ports, and designated roads would connect the Palestinians to Jordan and the broader Arab world. Under the vision, Palestinians would be able to chart their own destiny, supported by massive sums of money.


Mr. Netanyahu hailed the plan as an opportunity “Israel will not miss,” but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected it with “a thousand no’s.” The vision, he claimed, would give the Palestinians less land than previous proposals would have and prohibit the Palestinian Authority from paying stipends to reward Palestinian terrorists who attacked or murdered Israelis. Today, in the 19th year of his four-year term, Mr. Abbas opposes the vision’s requirements for democratization.


The Palestinians weren’t alone in rejecting the proposal. Most of the media denounced it as too pro-Israel, despite its several territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Many commentators likewise overlooked that right-wing Israelis rejected the vision precisely because it would result in a Palestinian state—albeit one without full sovereignty and subject to overriding Israeli security control.


Mr. Biden has no doubt satisfied his party’s progressive base by abandoning many of his predecessor’s initiatives. Yet his administration continues to maintain the Abraham Accords, which Mr. Trump forged, and hopes to expand it by creating peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia. He ought to extend similar sympathy, and exert equal political capital, to advance the vision.


Talking about peace while Hamas continues to hold more than a hundred people hostage strikes many as tone-deaf. But at least 20 Democratic senators think otherwise and may seek to revive a failed two-state formula. To give Mr. Biden the backing he needs to maintain his principled opposition to a total pause—and provide time and space for Israel to defeat Hamas—the U.S. should renew the vision, at least as the basis for future negotiations. It is the only proposal Israelis might approve if and when the time is right, and it is an opportunity the Palestinians would be wise not to miss.


 

Mr. Oren has served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., a Knesset member and deputy minister in the prime minister’s office.

Mr. Greenblatt is director of Arab-Israel diplomacy for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and author of “In the Path of Abraham.” He served as White House Middle East envoy, 2016-19.

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