Donald Trump’s election victory raises many unanswered questions, but it also settles a few, starting with the fate of the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” In the words of Israeli Education Minister and Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett, “The era of a Palestinian state is over.”
Lest anyone accuse the Israeli hardliner of wishful thinking, one need only recall candidate Trump’s insistence last spring that Israelis “really have to keep going” with settling the territories that they have occupied since 1967. Two months later, the Republican Party changed its 2012 platform to omit support for a Palestinian state and to condemn the “false notion that Israel is an occupier.”
Last week, a co-chair of the Trump campaign’s Israel Advisory Committee reaffirmed that the President-elect rejects Washington’s traditional view that Israel’s settlements are obstacles to peace and illegal under international law.
The so-called “two-state solution” — creation of a Palestinian national homeland comprising the West Bank and Gaza, and coexisting with Israel — has been a longstanding axiom of official U.S. policy, accepted as well by Israel and its unofficial lobbying arm, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Of late, however, the rise of extreme Jewish nationalists to power in Israel, the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, and Israel’s evident disinterest in peace negotiations have all but killed hopes for such a solution. In 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “There will be no withdrawals” from the occupied West Bank and “no concessions” to the Palestinians.