How to Assess the Trump Plan (presented before the plan's release)

The White House is expected to unveil President Trump's "Deal of the Century" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on January 28th 2020. APN offers the following analysis to help assess Trump's proposal.

How to Assess the Trump Plan

APN does not presume to prescribe a detailed formula for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We appreciate efforts by past US administrations to avoid prescribing or imposing a detailed peace plan. At the same time, we strongly believe that any US-authored peace plan, if it is to have a chance of succeeding, must assert a framework based on several unshakable principles.

APN believes that a Trump administration plan should be reviewed against the background of past diplomatic initiatives – the Clinton Parameters, the 2000 Camp David negotiations, the George W. Bush administration's Road Map, the 2007 Annapolis understandings, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Oslo Accords, and successive UN Security Council resolutions – which generated international consensus and served to narrow gaps between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, bringing them close to compromise agreements.

These principles include:

* Forthright Definition of the Endgame: The goal must be an agreement that definitively ends all claims and results in two politically and economically viable sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace within recognized borders, with security and contiguity, and with the character of each state determined by its citizens.

* West Bank and Gaza: A future Palestinian state should be one entity comprised of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with a physical connection between them.

* Security Assurances: A negotiated agreement must address both Israeli and Palestinian security requirements. The US should support a robust international role in guaranteeing mutually agreed upon security arrangements.

* 1967 Lines as Starting Point: The US should explicitly recognize the June 4, 1967 Green Line as the starting point for negotiations over territory.

* Equal Land Swaps: As the basis for an agreement regarding borders and settlements, the US should embrace the principle of equal (one-to-one) land swaps.

* Jerusalem, Home to Two Capitals: The peace plan should include an unambiguous declaration of the US vision for West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, respectively, as the capitals of Israel and the future sovereign state of Palestine.

* Palestinian Refugees: Any peace plan aspiring to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must address the Palestinian refugee issue, including the Palestinian demand for a "right of return." Prior Palestinian and Israeli leaders have agreed to the broad outlines of a resolution to the refugee problem, including a combination of resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the future state of Palestine, third-country resettlement, symbolic absorption of a small number of Palestinian refugees in Israel, and compensation.

Laying the Groundwork for Negotiations

The above requirements must be included in any US peace plan if it is to be taken seriously. In order to get to the negotiating stage, the Trump administration should take the following steps:

* Repair Relations with Palestinians: Having lost the trust of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people, particularly over its actions regarding Jerusalem, the Trump Administration must extend itself to repair the relationship.

* Build Support in the International Community: Washington should undertake an international diplomatic initiative to rally the support of the international community for America's brokership of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The Trump administration should welcome and encourage the engagement of additional important stakeholders, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League.

* Declare Peace a US Interest: Like previous administrations, the Trump administration should make clear that an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord is in the national security interest of the United States. While a peace agreement cannot and will not be forced upon the parties, the US will push for a fair and reasonable agreement, consistent with its national security interests, living up to the honest broker role that America must fulfill.