On April 14, The Guardian published a letter from former high ranking government officials all over Europe that urged the European Union to reject any Middle Eastern peace plan from the U.S. that would exclude Palestine.
For the past several months, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been in charge of creating this Middle Eastern peace plan. He has been meeting with Middle Eastern leaders in pursuance of what some call the “deal of the century.” Though there has been no official documents or reports about what exactly the plan would entail, The Washington Post talked to “people familiar with the main elements” who indicated this peace plan may not include plans for Palestinian sovereignty.
And per usual, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and their accompanying tensions, are at the center of the controversy. But instead of rightfully pointing to the Palestinian Authority’s abuse, angry individuals and leaders banded together in opposition, not against the PA, but against Israel. The letter opposing Kushner’s possible peace plan was signed by 37 former European leaders, including former prime ministers and foreign secretaries from the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Germany, and several other European countries.
Of course, Kushner’s plan would not fix the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians have refused to even consider cooperating with the U.S. because they said the Trump administration would be a biased broker for peace.
It’s more than likely Kushner’s plan would favor Israel. Trump has revitalized the U.S.-Israeli alliance, recognizing the Golan Heights as legitimate Israeli territory and Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and not even batting an eye when Benjamin Netanyahu announced he wants to annex parts of the West Bank.
The Europeans can’t fix the Israeli-Palestinian problem either. In their letter of opposition they wrote, “European governments should further commit to scale up efforts to protect the viability of a future two-state outcome.” And there’s the problem: They still believe that a two-state outcome is a viable option, and it’s not. At least, the traditional idea of a two-state settlement is not viable.
The Palestinians and Israelis have shown the world for the past century that the simplistic, western idea of a two-state solution cannot work. Their grievances are too deeply rooted in history, which has led to numerous factions and fighting that have paralyzed any progress in resolving their issues.
The ongoing conflict has created so many factions, both Israeli and Palestinian, that it is hopeless to find a solution that will appease everyone. There are 21 Palestinian political parties and none of them want the same thing. The PLO wants a Palestinian state. But Hamas wants to liberate Palestine, and while they’re at it, create an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Not to mention that each party has sub-parties with their own ideas of how to get a Palestinian state. Should they negotiate with the Israelis? Should they blow the Israelis up and then negotiate? Should they just have a massive war to get rid of the Israelis?
The Israelis aren’t much better. There are 17 parties with seats in the Knesset — Israel’s legislature — this term and another 33 political parties without Knesset seats. Every party has its own ideas and agendas. There are Zionists who believe in the establishment of a Jewish nation in their ancient homeland. There are anti-Zionists. There are Islamists who want to be part of the state of Israel, but not a Jewish state. There are Communists. Some parties want to annex the West Bank, while others are concerned with irrelevant issues like Arab nationalism.
The European leaders are stuck in an unrealistic Western mentality. There are simply too many factions in Israel and Palestine, and too much history and hatred to reconcile them with a two-state solution.
Diana Buttu was a former advisor to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and described impossibility of negotiations well: “If it had just been about drawing a line and a border, then the border would have been drawn a long, long time ago. But the negotiations very much touched upon many of these ideological issues. Israel was never prepared to address its history,” she told Husna Rizvi of the New Internationalist. “I came to the conclusion, in January of 2001, that negotiations were a waste of time.”
The Europeans need to come to Buttu’s conclusion as well before they dismiss Kushner’s plan on the whim that a two-state solution is feasible. Kushner’s “deal of the century” might not work out, but it has a better chance than a two-state solution.
Abby Liebing is a junior studying History.