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The Israeli right’s dream come true could end in brutal nightmare

IN FULL: Trump’s Middle East peace plan – click to download (16.8 MB)

The plan’s unveiling was delayed two years, but it’s not clear why. After all, Trump adopted the vast majority of Netanyahu’s positions. Netanyahu repaid him with lavish praise that will be recalled endlessly when Trump courts evangelical voters in the November election.

The U.S. proposal was also Trump’s last attempt to rescue Netanyahu from his political bind. Before Israel’s April election,  Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Now, judging by his statements on Tuesday, he’s also apparently willing to recognize Israeli sovereignty over much of the West Bank. And Netanyahu may annex this territory even before the election in early March.

If so, this would be a real revolution, far more important than a peace plan that will never be implemented. But it entails serious risk.

The big question for Netanyahu is whether Trump’s show of support will help him win votes in March. At the White House, standing beside the president, he looked like a victorious statesman. His indictments weren’t mentioned. In Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted, joining Ehud Olmert in the small but very nonexclusive club of Israeli prime ministers who have faced trial.

Moreover, in contrast to the Gulf States’ implied support for Trump’s plan, Jordan is terrified of it. Annexing the Jordan Valley would cause a crisis in Israel’s relations with Jordan and endanger the peace treaty, even if it isn’t immediately annulled.

It’s important to remember that this whole debate is taking place ex parte. Not only did the Palestinians take no part in the festivities, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with Trump’s peace team for two years. However, he did speak by phone Tuesday with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, ending a long rift.

In Washington on Tuesday, we saw the pretty side. But some Israeli defense officials are even more worried than usual right now.