Recent statements by Donald Trump have indicated an interest in brokering an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but it has also been reported that he does not view Jewish building in Judea and Samaria as an impediment, and that he would not pressure Israel to make concessions.


Trump considers himself a dealmaker, so let’s imagine he makes the deal. He meets with Netanyahu and Abbas, conceptualizes a final outcome, judges himself capable of exerting the pressure needed to bridge the gaps, and then sets out “convincing” everybody to accept his plan.


Leaving Abbas aside for the moment, in the minds of many of his supporters, Netanyahu’s mission is to stall Palestinian statehood indefinitely. Notwithstanding his endorsement of the two state paradigm, he has no plan to move forward in any particular direction, and he thrives on his supporters’ presumption of the impossibility of a breakthrough in the lingering two state effort.


If Trump decides to impose his designs on the region it will come swiftly and decisively. I do not expect him to be interested in getting bogged down in a filibuster of negotiations, or to be susceptible to stalling tactics. Netanyahu would present it as the policy accomplishment of his career. Regardless, his supporters would consider his mission to have ended in failure, and would abandon him, the left would never accept him, and his career would end.


So what if, after meeting both sides Trump decides not to push Palestinian statehood? It will be impossible to imagine the concept continuing to inspire much enthusiasm. The idea that Trump’s election might actually make annexing Area C possible has already emboldened Naftali Bennett and lends new legitimacy to his place in Israeli politics.


As it becomes more difficult to blame the world when Bennett does not get his way, Netanyahu will have to either cede more and more to Bennett, making himself less and less relevant (a process that seems to have already begun with events surrounding Amona, even regardless of the eventual outcome there) or he will actually have to come out strongly against Bennett, which could force him to concede the right wing brand entirely. Either option could cost the Likud its existence.


Whether the question of Palestinian statehood is answered with the creation of a state, or buried with Trump’s disengagement, the decision will come decisively. It is hard to imagine the question lingering. Once Trump’s position is clear, Israeli politics will begin to move on.


Regardless of Trump’s position regarding the Palestinians, overall he appreciates Israel and Netanyahu, and disdains Islamic fundamentalism. It is hard to imagine Israel facing significant turmoil in the Security Council during a Trump presidency. It is hard to imagine anyone, including Iran, attacking Israel during a Trump presidency. Many in Israel now perceive a sweeping sense of safety.


Israelis who already have significant levels of appreciation for Kahlon and Lapid but who have, until now, succumbed to the sense that the Arab-Israeli conflict was paramount are not going to continue prioritizing a question that has either been answered or buried. They are going to feel more free to vote based on other issues.


Notwithstanding the Likud and Zionist Union/Labor’s lip service to topics like religious encroachment, haredi integration, housing, poverty, and other domestic matters, their history of mishandling and neglecting domestic affairs has already given rise to parties like Kulanu, and Yesh Atid. It is too late for Herzog or Netanyahu to take up domestic mantles already claimed by others.


Kahlon and Lapid will benefit from Trump’s election, while the Likud and the Zionist Union are going to have to struggle to present alternative approaches to domestic problems in order to salvage the situation.


Even if Trump disengages from the two state solution, the issue is not going to disappear any more than the Palestinians themselves. Evan if a symbolic annexation took place in Area C, it would not address the problems inherent in the fact that already more than half the population between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is not Jewish.


The population of Gaza is almost 1.9 million. The Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria is almost 2.8 million. There are approximately 1.8 million Arabs who hold Israeli citizenship, another 300,000 who have the status of East Jerusalem Arabs, and another 374,000 Israeli citizens are neither Arab nor Jewish. In total there are almost 6.4 million Jews and about 7 million non-Jews currently living between the river and the sea.


With power, the need to address problems seriously replaces the ability to proscribe nonsense without worrying about being held accountable for an outcome. You cannot have a Jewish state without a Jewish majority, and an unbound Israeli right would eventually have to seriously confront Israel’s demographic crisis. Should that happen they will be left with the only available option, Palestinian statehood. 

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