The Irish Times view on Trump’s ‘peace plan’: worse than worthless

The idea of an ‘economic peace’ as the first step in a sequence has long been discredited among Palestinians

On coming to power, Donald Trump delegated his “deal of the century” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, but, more than two years later, the plan has yet to materialise. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

If the first element in the United States peace plan for the Middle East, unveiled by the White House in recent days, is any indication of what is to follow, then the initiative could be worse than worthless. It could be profoundly damaging to the prospects for peace in the region.

On coming to power, Donald Trump delegated his "deal of the century" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, but, more than two years later, the plan has yet to materialise.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration's ability to play the role of honest broker – dubious to begin with – has been comprehensively lost as a result of its own actions, in particular the unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, ongoing hostility towards the Palestinian leadership and a chaotic regional policy that has prolonged the conflict in Yemen and needlessly brought tensions with Iran to dangerous levels.

The first part of the plan, the White House revealed, is to be a US-led conference in Bahrain next month to promote economic development in the Palestinian territories.

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The idea of an “economic peace” as the first step in a sequence dates back to the Reagan administration, but it has long been discredited among Palestinians, who see Israel’s embrace of the idea as an attempt to normalise the occupation and avoid having to confront the real – meaning political – issues.

Palestinians "do not trade our national rights for money", said Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, who confirmed that the Palestinian leadership had not even been consulted about the Bahrain summit in advance.

Even on its own terms, the idea that pumping money into the Palestinian territories will resolve its problems shows an alarming failure to understand what is at stake.

Palestine lacks basic resources such as land, water and the ability to move from one place to another. Until they are restored through a fair, broad-based political settlement involving both sides, a durable peace will remain elusive.