Arab diplomats familiar with the situation say that they are encouraging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept President Trump’s peace plan, no matter what it turns out to say, on the grounds that Israel is just going to keep expanding settlements and making future prospects worse otherwise.
Diplomats, unnamed but quoted in Egypt’s al-Shorouk newspaper, say Israel’s “take and negotiate” policy means that the longer they wait, the more Palestinian territory will be devoured by Israeli settlements.
The alternative, rather, is for the Palestinians to “take what they can get.” President Trump’s relative hostility toward the Palestinians in recent months, however, may suggest that what they can get isn’t very much to start with.
It’s going to be difficult for Abbas to follow this advice publicly, having already rejected the idea of the US being an arbiter of the peace process over the Jerusalem declaration. Both backing down and accepting Trump’s proposal, which is almost certain to be heavily weighted in Israel’s favor, threatens to cost Abbas politically.
The Arab diplomats counseling Abbas are not wrong, however. Israeli settlements are growing at a record pace, and often intentionally in places to make a contiguous Palestine impossible. Netanyahu is already presenting Palestine as getting something short of independence, and as their control in the West Bank continues to shrink, so too will Israel’s far-right government believe they can offer even less.