A Former Peace Negotiator Muses on Trump and the Future of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

More than a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, we’ve seen what appears to be a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 10, 2017. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 10, 2017. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Dec. 10, 2017. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

More than a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the world has seen what seems to be a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Though Trump once promised to make the “ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians, in 2017 he questioned long-standing U.S. policy in the region and appeared to dramatically reset the terms of negotiations. The United States, he announced in December, would now recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the U.S. Embassy would soon be moved there. The Israeli leadership welcomed the decision; the Palestinian leadership decried it. Jerusalem had always been set aside for final status negotiations — both Palestinians and Israelis claim the city as their capital.

Jerusalem may have been the most dramatic shift, but there have been other signposts throughout the year that the U.S. position on the region was under reconsideration. Meanwhile the peace process is moribund, and a resolution has never seemed further from reach.

More than a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the world has seen what seems to be a fundamental shift in U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Though Trump once promised to make the “ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians, in 2017 he questioned long-standing U.S. policy in the region and appeared to dramatically reset the terms of negotiations. The United States, he announced in December, would now recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the U.S. Embassy would soon be moved there. The Israeli leadership welcomed the decision; the Palestinian leadership decried it. Jerusalem had always been set aside for final status negotiations — both Palestinians and Israelis claim the city as their capital.

Jerusalem may have been the most dramatic shift, but there have been other signposts throughout the year that the U.S. position on the region was under reconsideration. Meanwhile the peace process is moribund, and a resolution has never seemed further from reach.

This week on The E.R., we get into the weeds of this conflict, past and present, the proposed solutions, and what happens next, in a conversation with political analyst Daniel Levy and Benjamin Soloway, FP associate editor, moderated by Sarah Wildman, FP’s print editor.

Daniel Levy is currently the president of the U.S./Middle East Project, an organization focused on finding a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. He is also a council member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and was Middle East and North Africa program director until 2016. Levy served as a negotiator for the Israelis during the Israel-Palestine talks at Oslo B under Yitzhak Rabin and at Taba under Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Benjamin Soloway is an associate editor at FP. Follow him on Twitter at: @bsoloway.

Sarah Wildman is FP’s print editor. Follow her on Twitter at: @SarahAWildman.

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