When you peel away the significant differences in the way the Trump peace plan was compiled and presented to both sides, how do its actual provisions shape up next to predecessor frameworks for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, such as the Oslo Accords?
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Of course, the way the new plan was assembled and announced at the White House on Tuesday could not fail to have an impact on the way it would be received among Palestinians and Israelis. In the former case, the response was complete derision.
– Peace to Prosperity: The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan – click to download
IN FULL: Trump’s Middle East peace plan – click to download
How, then, does “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” – as the full, 181-page text of the Trump plan is called – propose dealing with the major issues of contention, and how does it compare with the terms of Oslo?
First, the Oslo plan was a “declaration of principles,” worked out in secret by Israeli and Palestinians negotiators, and meant to serve as the framework for a staged peace plan that would be negotiated and implemented incrementally by the sides within five years.
The gradual nature of the process was intended to allow for the development of trust and goodwill, in the hope that when the time came to deal with the most sensitive issues – in particular, the status of Jerusalem and the future of the Palestinian refugees, as well as the question of Palestinian statehood – the sides would already have enough at stake to insure they would be able and willing to make the necessary compromises to complete the deal. Obviously, they never got to that point.
However, one indication of where the Oslo framework might have ended up can be seen in the so-called Clinton Parameters of December 2000, negotiated as the second intifada raged, and never implemented. They are significant because they were accepted in principle by both then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who just a half year earlier had failed to reach agreement on final-status issues at the ill-fated Camp David summit.
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The Trump plan aims to offer answers to all of the pressing issues, and states a priori that at the end of the process there will be a State of Palestine in place next to the State of Israel. However, whereas Oslo may have left too many crucial issues to the end, the Trump plan – written in extensive detail by the U.S. administration in conjunction with the Israelis, with no Palestinian participation – is apparently being offered to the latter on a “take it or leave it” basis.
It leaves little for the two sides to negotiate, even if the Palestinians were willing to do so. Furthermore, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already agreed to the terms of the plan, and says he wants to begin implementing parts of it immediately, it is not clear that the drafters really care about a Palestinian response.
Here’s how Oslo and the Clinton Parameters compare with Trump’s “Vision” on the major issues…
The Trump plan does not accept the principle (as presented in UN Security Council Resolution 242) of Israel’s pre-1967 borders serving as the starting point for negotiations. Instead, it aspires to allow “approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank [to be] … incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory.”
It imagines all of the Jordan Valley being annexed by Israel, and for no settlements to be uprooted, with the “vast majority” of them being annexed and incorporated “into contiguous Israeli territory.”
For the Palestinians, the contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank, and the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, as well as between Palestinian enclaves created within the West Bank, would be provided by “access roads” and other “first-rate infrastructure solutions (including tunnels and overpasses).”
In the Oslo Accords, the question of borders was to be part of the permanent status negotiations that were due to take place during the five-year transitional period. Following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 and the election of Netanyahu the following year, the final borders were never agreed upon by both sides.
The Camp David talks included an Israeli proposal to secure the Jordan Valley on a long-term lease and to annex a reported 13 percent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but, as noted, the meeting ended with no agreement.