There’s also a very good chance that it doesn’t matter anyway. That’s the one element missing from yesterday’s Washington Post scoop, in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sets out to lower expectations for the administration’s long-awaited Mideast peace plan. And when Pompeo lowers expectations, he doesn’t fool around about it either:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a sobering assessment of the prospects of the Trump administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan in a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders, saying “one might argue” that the plan is “unexecutable” and it might not “gain traction.” He expressed his hope that the deal isn’t simply dismissed out of hand.
“It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me,’ that is, ‘it’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out,’ ” Pompeo said in an audio recording of the private meeting obtained by The Washington Post.
“The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out,” he said.
So … it’s not original, it’s unworkable, won’t gain traction, and has lots of “bad things.” That makes it about equal with every other plan for peace in the Middle East. In the words of the Joker: Why so serious?
Give credit to Pompeo for being, er, realistic, says one expert:
Aaron David Miller, a former negotiator and analyst on Middle East issues for both Republican and Democratic administrations, said the remarks were “the most revealing and real assessment of the plan that I’ve heard so far.”
“The fact that Pompeo so easily conceded the perception – and likely the reality – that the plan was strongly structured and tilted toward the Israelis is striking,” Miller said.
Here’s a little more realism for Miller’s benefit: it doesn’t matter anyway. Over the last 40 years or more, every American president has come up with a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some have favored the Israelis, some have favored the Palestinians, and every single one of them failed. Bill Clinton gave Yasser Arafat the keys to statehood, and Arafat tossed them away to launch intifadas instead.
The reason for the failure has also remained constant. Israel wants to keep its existence as a Jewish state, and the Palestinians want that land for themselves. They don’t chant “from the river to the sea” for nothing. It’s that simple, and that intractable. Until the Palestinians accept the fact that Israel will never agree to the “right of return” and its destructive impact on the integrity of the Israeli state, there will never be peace, no matter what kind of plans get drawn up by American presidents and their advisers. And the Palestinians will keep demanding that until their allies stop supporting it, and instead start demanding that the Palestinians produce realistic leadership that will result in co-existence rather than annihilationism.
Pompeo’s probably correct that this plan will survive much less longer than, say, Clinton’s Wye River efforts or the Oslo accords that have cemented this intractable status quo. It hardly matters to anyone outside the White House, though, which is merely now conducting the check-box effort of having a Mideast peace plan that everyone can reject. Ceremonial traditions are very persistent.