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Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israelís capital and the prospect of a two-state solution

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Monday, 18 December 2017


In return for Trump's announcement, Netanyahu quietly conceded not to expand the settlements outside the three blocks along the 1967 borders, and also to engage in confidence-building measures, especially joint economic development projects with the Palestinians.

Abbas may now be dismissive of the US' critical role in negotiations with Israel, but neither he nor his successors can afford to ignore the US' role in future negotiations and expect a peace agreement with Israel that meets the Palestinians' basic requirements.

Most Arab states' criticism of Trump's declaration, led by Saudi Arabia, was largely muted, not only because they are preoccupied with domestic and regional tensions, but because they understand the real implications of the declaration, which has little or no effect on the reality on the ground and the ultimate framework of a peace accord.

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Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the EU has now an enhanced opportunity to play a significant role to guard the principle of a two-state solution by undertaking significant people-to-people confidence-building measures between Israelis and Palestinians. The EU can, in fact should, use its financial aid to the Palestinians and its extensive trade with Israel as a lever to effect significant change in the Israeli-Palestinian political climate, which is a prerequisite to substantive and successful peace negotiations.

To be sure, from my perspective, nothing in Trump's declaration fundamentally changes the principle of a two-state solution as a prerequisite to peaceful and enduring coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians. Those who claim that the two-state solution has all but vanished because of Trump's recognition of Israel seem to be engaged in illusions.

They have forgotten what the Zionist dream was all about - the creation of a Jewish state imbued with its long historic experiences, culture, religion, and identity, that can be secure and enduring only if it remains a Jewish and democratic state that offers a home with security to any Jew, and remains as such to eternity.

The one-state option defies every principle of the Zionist dream, and no Israeli government, regardless of its political orientation, will settle on anything less than a Jewish state with a sustainable Jewish majority to ensure the national identity of the state. To be sure, the current status quo is simply unsustainable.

Trump's declaration does not in any way foreclose the Palestinians' aspiration to establish their own capital in East Jerusalem, while maintaining the unity of Jerusalem as a single city and as a microcosm of Israeli-Palestinian peaceful coexistence.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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