As part of his misbegotten campaign to be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize, President Trump is moving forward with a plan developed by his son-in-law to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Thursday, the administration took a major step toward delivering Jared Kushner’s long-delayed proposal, when Vice-President Mike Pence announced an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet in Washington next week. The opposition was invited, too — just not the obvious choice for the summit. Rather than include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a talk to determine an agreement between Israel and Palestine, Pence extended the invitation to Netanyahu’s challenger in the March election, Benny Gantz.
At a larger scale, the Trump administration has not welcomed Palestinian leaders to the table as Kushner has drawn up his peace plan — which the president said would be released prior to the Tuesday meeting. “They want to be able to say that they have our input,” Mahmoud al-Aloul, the vice-chairman of Palestine’s ruling Fatah Party, told the Washington Post. “But [Trump] is not doing this to help us, but to help his friend Netanyahu.” Palestinian leadership has refused all Trump administration outreach since the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in 2018 — including ten invitations in recent weeks to discuss the plan.
The Trump administration previously delayed rolling out the plan as to not interfere with Israeli elections; but with a third vote in under a year coming in March, U.S. officials told the Post that avoiding favorites is no longer a concern. (The Netanyahu bias has also been quite apparent in other moves, such as the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.)
There is another reason for delaying a proposal first developed in the early months of Trump’s presidency: It’s notoriously bad. According to a description of the draft in Vicki Ward’s 2019 book Kushner, Inc., it involves at least five countries, not including Palestine, coordinating to provide aid or redraw boundaries, with no concessions provided by Israel. In recent public statements, the White House has also dropped its references to a two-state solution.
The plan was so flawed that upon its proposed rollout in June, Trump allies lobbied for a delay. Pro-Israel voices close to the administration reportedly worried that it could “trigger violence” or “forever kill efforts to craft a two-state solution,” while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “one might argue” that it is “unexecutable” and might not “gain traction.”
Though the president is still confident in his son-in-law’s designs for the region, in a speech in December, he may have unintentionally presented a more likely outcome for the conflict that’s dragged on for 72 years: “If Jared Kushner can’t do it, it can’t be done.”