Khaled Elgindy on Trump’s peace plan, Israeli annexation plans

Khaled Elgindy, a nonresident fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, shared his thoughts about Netanyahu’s re-election and the Trump peace plan in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh.

“My guess is that we are going to see more of the same that we’ve seen from Netanyahu in the past, particularly since the Trump era, maybe with a little bit more arrogance and a little bit more confidence, Elgindy predicted about Netanyahu’s 5th term. “It’ll be interesting to see if he follows through on his promise to annex parts of the West Bank, probably the settlement blocs and/or Area C. I would imagine that the entire right wing, and especially the Greater Israel crowd, are extremely elated and are, I think, making plans for whether it’s pushing annexation or more settlements.”

As the world awaits the release of Trump’s peace plan, Elgindy sounds  less optimistic that the proposal would lead to serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, questioning whether it will touch on the core issues of the conflict or “if it’ll just be Jason Greenblatt trolling Palestinians on Twitter.”

“I’m not even sure that they’re going to release the plan,” he opined. “I think it doesn’t really matter whether there’s a plan, if it’s 40 pages or 60 pages or even two pages. We already know what the major components of the plan are, which is, he took Jerusalem off the table, refugees are off the table, genuine Palestinian sovereignty is off the table, and removing settlements are off the table. What’s left? What’s left is the size of the Palestinian economy areas and how much money they expect Arab states to pitch in to support it. This is not really something that I think is going to generate much traction, certainly with Palestinians or with Arab states. In that sense, it doesn’t matter whether…they officially release the plan.”

Elgindy on annexation: “I think it’s really up to Netanyahu. I think he is going to be the deciding factor whether it’s politically wise to move on that. He is, so far, at least before the campaign, he was reluctant to get behind pushing for annexation. I think because the pragmatic side of him is aware that that would trigger consequences to officially take the two-state solution off the table. My sense is that Trump will get behind whatever Netanyahu decides. He probably wouldn’t take steps toward annexation unless he felt confident that the Trump administration would at least acquiesce in it and at least give it a green light, if not openly embrace it.”

According to Elgindy, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s strategy right now might be to wait out Trump and hope that a new Democratic administration would hit the reset button. “I think his inclination is basically to wait for the next administration that would reverse some of these policies and that it’d bring us back to where we were, maybe, under Obama, which wasn’t a good place for them anyway,” he speculated. “My sense is that if a Democrat wins, it would be fairly  high on their priority list because of the damage that was done and there would be a desire to undo the damage in the same way that it was a priority for Obama in 2009 to undo some of the damage of the previous administration. That’s a totally hypothetical situation. But for the time being, I don’t see any incentive in the Palestinians engaging with this administration at any level except in the most basic, continuing security coordination.”

By Jacob Kornbluh in New York. Jacob is the national politics reporter for Jewish Insider. Follow him at @jacobkornbluh

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