“The Trump administration has now unveiled its Mideast peace plan. While we should expect plenty of debate about its terms, which represent a sharp departure from past U.S. peacemaking efforts, another development has essentially pushed the plan into the background. Israeli officials have announced that they plan to annex all West Bank settlements next week. If they do, this new phase of the process will be dead before it really starts.

“The peace plan was supposed to take the interests of both sides into account. But the annexation move essentially makes any agreement superfluous, since Israel is already helping itself to the rewards that it’s supposed to gain from future negotiations over the plan. Any benefits for the Palestinians are left for the four-year period ahead designated by the Trump administration when both sides are to consider the plan. Israel has complained in the past that it is yielding tangible territorial assets for the intangible promise of peace. Now, Israel would be adding land immediately while the Palestinian land would be conditional on other benchmarks. The sudden urgency of the annexation plans seems designed to unite Israel’s right on the eve of an election, which might otherwise fracture the prospects of ceding territory to the Palestinians…”

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