'Leaning on Jordan': Jim Hanson on Trump's Peace

Published January 30th, 2020 - 11:19 GMT
Jim Hanson/Al Bawaba News
Jim Hanson/Al Bawaba News

DC Insider, Hayder al-Shakarchi, spoke with Jim Hanson, President at the Security Studies Group, to understand how Trump's peace plan for Palestine could be rationalized inside Washington.

For context, the current deal works to upend the two-state solution, creating a Palestine state which is not contiguous but piecemeal and divided; patched together through a network of roads and tunnels that could be closed at any time. Strategic land in the Jordan Valley will be annexed. Jerusalem will presumably be the capital for a Palestine state in the East, and a Jewish state to the center. Gaza will be demilitarized and Jordan made an alternate homeland for the Palestinian people.

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What could this be, other than a political rouse? Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh even pointed this out himself by saying that this latest puff piece of a peace deal “is intended to protect Trump from impeachment and Netanyahu from prison on corruption charges. "None of this is for the betterment of the nation of Palestine or its limited inhabitants... It’s simply for the benefit of its benefactors: America and its ruthless partner in crime, Israel. "This is not a plan for peace in the Middle East, but rather a plan to safeguard its sponsors,” Shtayyeh continued. How would you respond to such bold framing?

“They started working on this plan after Trump got inaugurated and so I don’t think that’s really the case. They’ve been at this for a long time… They’ve worked extremely hard at it, they’ve done a lot of evangelizing in the region, and they’ve reached out multiple times to the Palestinians - not particularly successfully - but they’ve involved the Israelis and they have also involved the Gulf states. I think that the idea that this was hatched to distract from Trump’s impeachment is crazy.

Unfortunately, Trump’s impeachment and Netanyahu’s indictment problems are probably going to distract from the fact that this plan does at least deserve be seen by everyone. It’s honestly the best deal that the Palestinians have ever been offered and hopefully it will at least get a decent look from both sides.

He quite clearly said that we want to get this out before we get all the way into the election season and no one will pay attention and now is the last chance that they had. Unfortunately, Trump’s impeachment and Netanyahu’s indictment problems are probably going to distract from the fact that this plan does at least deserve be seen by everyone. It’s honestly the best deal that the Palestinians have ever been offered and hopefully it will at least get a decent look from both sides.”

Trump has gone on to use the most gruesome and condescending rhetoric when addressing the global public, a community which has grown quite savvy to his insidious tactics, particularly with his impeachment looming in the horizon and slowly, but surely, nearing proximity. Trump has remarked that this preposterous peace plan, which sounds more like a prison plan than a peace plan, is a “win-win for both sides.” However, the truth of the situation couldn’t be further from that, especially since the Palestinians will be left out cold, without a state of their own, once again. This is simply a win on the Israeli side, no matter how Trump decides to spin it or who decides to agree with it. The president also emphasized that this is a “giant step towards peace,” but how so, President Trump? From where we’re looking, yes, this may definitely seem like a giant step, just not towards peace but to Israel’s long and yearning desire for the eradication of the Palestinians, once and for all.

“I think that this is the best deal that the Palestinians could have ever hoped for. There are a lot of issues within the ongoing 40+ year issue that we’ve been dealing with. For example - the right of return, embassies, capitals, and all of the things that seem to have been sticking points forever… Some of those got left out and some of them have been dealt with and in fairly creative ways. We all know that in any reasonable outcome, there’s not going to be a full right of return… There’s just no way- that would be demographic suicide for the Israeli state.

However, is there going to be a capital in East Jerusalem? Yes. Is it going to be the largest Palestinian state yet contemplated in total land? Yes. Are there are a lot of things that I think are fairly advantageous to the Palestinians? Yes, as well as the many things that are fairly advantageous to the Israelis.

However, is there going to be a capital in East Jerusalem? Yes. Is it going to be the largest Palestinian state yet contemplated in total land? Yes. Are there are a lot of things that I think are fairly advantageous to the Palestinians? Yes, as well as the many things that are fairly advantageous to the Israelis. A lot of their favorite issues are taken care of in this and I think that they’re giving up a few things, such as the idea of looking at a full two-state solution and looking at one that in such a fairly short period has not been very efficient. So I think that looking at a full two-state solution or looking at one contemplates a reasonable amount of autonomy for the Palestinians and is worth considering. We’ll see how reasonable everybody wants to be.”


But is this really advantageous for both countries? Does it not lean more towards Israel’s advantage?

“I have the view that in all the wars, Israel won and normally, the victor dictates peace. The anomaly of the Israeli-Palestinian situation has been that even though the Israelis have won, they’ve been told - over and over again - that they cannot dictate peace and that they will not impose a peace on the Palestinians.

I have the view that in all the wars, Israel won and normally, the victor dictates peace.

Now you can say, in some ways, that they have but they haven’t dictated the peace that they want and they haven’t dictated a 'peace' that is totally advantageous to Israel, with no consideration to the Palestinians. I think that the idea that this favors Israel completely is false. I think that it favors them more, yes, and I think that it should. At this point, the Palestinians have lost their negotiating chances yet they still continue getting them back in ways that no one else in the history of civilization has been able to.”

Will this be the end of the never-ending annexation? Israel has continued to push more and more and have persisted in taking more and more land in a ruthless fashion. How can the global community be assured that Israel won’t continue to push until the Palestinians, and a Palestine state, become impossible?

“If the Palestinian side signs the deal, Israel will stop. They’re not going to cross Trump. He has been the best friend that Israel has had since 1948 and no one has done more for Israel than he has - and so openly. From the Golan Heights, to the embassy move to Jerusalem… There are a bunch of things that were highly advantageous to Israel that he did with the expectation that there would be a time in which he asked for something back. He’s a deal maker; that’s his game: I do for you, and when I ask, you do for me.”

They’re not going to cross Trump. He has been the best friend that Israel has had since 1948 and no one has done more for Israel than he has - and so openly.

Do you truly believe that if the Palestinians were to truly get on board with this deal, the annexation would be over? How about the Oslo Accords that have been practically eradicated by the Israeli side?

“The Oslo Accords were what they were and both sides - pretty flagrantly - abused their commitments there. However, there’s a huge difference between that deal and this deal, which is a personal deal that Trump has put his stamp on. If this goes down, it’s his stamp, at least for his term. If the Israelis went ahead and violated that deal, he would damage them in ways that they don’t want to contemplate. There’s enough anti-Israeli sentiment in parts of Congress and other places, with issues over aid and all the other things that they want to do, so if the Palestinians were to sign this deal and the Israelis go back on it, then Trump would hurt them.

There’s enough anti-Israeli sentiment in parts of Congress and other places, with issues over aid and all the other things that they want to do, so if the Palestinians were to sign this deal and the Israelis go back on it, then Trump would hurt them.

He’s vindictive that way… That’s the reason why he drives people crazy. Trump does not have a single problem doing mean things if somebody slights him personally or he feels that they have cheated him on a deal, and so if he puts his seal of approval on this deal and then the Israelis are the ones that botch it, there will definitely be consequences.”

This 'peace' prison plan has not been received well by the international community. Quite the contrary, actually. It has been rejected by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, along with the Palestinians and the global community. What would it take for Trump to understand that he clearly made an irreconcilable mistake by even entertaining such deeply partisan and biased design?

"I don’t think that this plan has a lot of chance of happening until a second term. It needed to come out now, though, as it needed to show that it was a good faith effort - which I truly believe it is. 

The Palestinians have difficulties compromising on things and so I think that if they could see their way forward, then they should take a look at this as an opportunity, at least. If they don’t, I’m not sure things will get better down the road.

I know some of the people involved in working on it and we had actually written a mock plan two years ago to try and see what is the best deal that the U.S. could propose to the Palestinians, just to see what type of response it would get. The Palestinians have difficulties compromising on things and so I think that if they could see their way, then they should take a look at this as an opportunity, at least. If they don’t, I’m not sure things will get better down the road.”

What role will Jordan and His Majesty the King be playing in all of this?

Trump mentioned the King of Jordan in the announcement of this and he said that he’s going to lean on him and I think that’s important.

“Trump mentioned the King of Jordan in the announcement of this and he said that he’s going to lean on him and I think that’s important. For all practical purposes, Jordan and the Palestinians are more or less connected and if the king of Jordan is behind this- and the Saudis and Emiratis and the rest of the gulf Arabs are not going to use this to stir up trouble- then I think you’ve got a great situation. The King of Jordan is the closest Arab leader and consequently, he has to be behind it for it to work.”


The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.


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