In a shocking development, Jared Kushner did not find a way to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

That’s the main takeaway from the plan the White House released Tuesday for a final settlement between the two sides at an event in which President Trump was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While it may not be the most slapdash initiative the Trump administration has produced in its three years in office — there’s a nice photo on the cover, and the fonts are pretty good — the more you examine it the more clear it is that it will go precisely nowhere.

Which is not surprising when you learn that the plan was put together by the Trump administration, whose hostility to Palestinian interests could not be more evident, in consultation with Netanyahu’s government, who some time ago dropped any pretense that he would ever support meaningful independence for Palestinians.

You’ll notice who was missing: the Palestinians themselves. They had no part in the construction of this plan, which all but ensured that it would ignore their interests and desires, nor were they invited to the announcement.

Let’s run through some of the major features of the Trump administration’s plan:

  • The plan creates a kind of Palestinian archipelago, a series of areas under their (limited) control interspersed with Israeli settlements. Though the Israelis would cease building new settlements on the West Bank, no Israeli settlements will be dismantled. That validates the years-long Israeli strategy of building settlements to create “facts on the ground,” i.e., areas with Jewish populations that could not be moved so as to prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.
  • The plan grants to Israel all of the Jordan Valley, meaning the Palestinian state would be completely surrounded by Israel on all sides.
  • Palestinians are required to give up any claims to land they were forced from in 1948 or since: “There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.”
  • Jerusalem, including both Jewish and Muslim holy sites, would remain under “unified” Israeli control, though the Palestinians would be permitted to establish their capital there in one area of the city.
  • Before a Palestinian state can be established, a series of requirements are imposed on the Palestinians on things like good governance and strong financial institutions; whether they have met those requirements will be determined by Israel and the United States. This means that the Palestinians will have to wait for Israel and the United States’ permission before the state of Palestine comes into existence, meaning that Netanyahu’s government or any future one could simply refuse to allow it indefinitely.

Which is precisely what Netanyahu would almost certainly like to do. As a sign of his bad faith, his government now says it will annex 30 percent of the West Bank as soon as this weekend.

Democrats quickly condemned the plan. Jordan rejected it. And Ilan Goldenberg of the Center for a New American Security noted that Palestinians will find its substantive provisions completely unacceptable.

“The plan is just deeply deeply condescending to Palestinians and uses insensitive language all over the place,” Goldenberg added. “It reads as it was written by a bunch of Americans who never talked to a Palestinian about its content, which is exactly what happened.”

I’m quite sure the White House knew that this plan would be immediately dismissed by the Palestinians. So why bother?

There are a couple of reasons. First, Trump said he was going to come up with a peace plan and gave the task to his son-in-law; if nothing else, he can say that he followed through. Second, by coming up with something so incredibly skewed toward the interests of Israel, he can demonstrate to domestic constituencies — particularly evangelical Christians, many of whom are devoted to a right-wing vision of Israel’s future in which Palestinian rights are ignored — that he continues to be on their side.

And finally, the inevitable rejection of the plan by the Palestinians can be used as an excuse to continue denying them self-determination. “See, we offered you a peace plan,” Trump and Netanyahu will say, “and you didn’t want it! It’s clear you aren’t ready for self-determination.” And nothing will change.

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