One of several ways in which US President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan has turned Middle East peacemaking on its head is by no longer assuming the Palestinians can be trusted.
It would seem obvious after years of the Palestinian Authority systematically violating its peace obligations, but for whatever reason Western power brokers continued to draw up proposals based on the notion that first Yasser Arafat, and then his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, could be relied upon.
Or that they were even fully in control.
In fact, that’s one of the key areas in which the Trump White House is demonstrating refreshing clarity.
Palestinian society is not only divided. It is at war with itself. And the Abbas regime can reasonably claim to represent only a part of its people. Even if Israel signed a genuine final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority today, terrorism against the Jewish state would almost certainly persist.
More than that, rampant corruption has made the Palestinian Authority entirely dysfunctional.
As such, the Trump Administration wants everyone involved to stop looking at Israel and the Palestinian Authority as equals, at least at this stage of the game, and to understand its peace proposal based on the asymmetry that currently exists.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said as much when asked by The Times of Israel why Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” is so clearly stacked in Israel’s favor.
“Israel is a democracy. You can hold it to its word. It is in a position today to keep its part of the bargain,” said Friedman. “The Palestinians are not in a position to keep any bargain. Their not united. Their government is not democratic. Their institutions are weak. Their respect for all types of norms that we hold dear — not just democracy but human rights, freedom of religion, freedom of the press — is nonexistent.”
Given this reality, Friedman said there was no reason for Israel to not receive its benefits already today, while the Palestinians must first prove themselves worthy of and capable of properly governing an independent state.