Is Trump’s Plan a Solution for Palestine?
3 de marzo de 2020

Last January 28, 2020, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, together with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, unveiled the so-called “plan of the century”: Peace to Prosperity, which is supposed to resolve of the historic Arab-Israeli conflict. This plan, which has faced deep rejection by Palestinian leaders, would bring with it recognition of Palestine as an independent state, albeit with strong limitations, and a possible conclusion to the long and failed peace process between the two territories.

To understand the meaning of this new project, it is essential to know the measures it covers and the current situation in Palestine: namely, the weakening of its governments and societal frustration due to the continuous failures of international agreements. It is also essential to briefly discuss the current relations between Palestine and Israel, and the international situation in which they find themselves. On one hand, this refers to the loss of support from historical allies and the rest of the Arab countries and, on the other, to the position maintained by both the UN and the EU.

Despite being an apparently distant conflict, developing at the other end of the Mediterranean, it is highly relevant to Spain. The relations that our country has with Israel have great economic and geopolitical significance. Behind them exists cooperation on security, defence, and the fight against Islamist terrorism. In fact, Israel is one of the main providers of information and a collaborator of Spain against jihadist terrorism, but also the United States’ greatest ally in the Middle East, on account of invested interest in the region. In turn, US protection is of vital importance to Israeli defence in that hostile territory, which constantly threatens its sovereignty and security.

Spain has not yet expressed a firm position on this conflict. In fact, Spain’s perspective varies according to the ideology of the government at different times. Thus, when it is conservative, our country adopts a pro-Zionist position, shifting to a more distant one when the socialists take power. This erratic foreign policy can have serious consequences; since it displays us as unstable, Israel and the United States, which play such a relevant role for our security and defence, will not consider us a reliable ally.

Plan Trump

Trump’ss Plan is nothing more than a desire to continue procuring peace agreements between the Muslim and Arab states with Israel. The Americans believe that, through them, a just solution will be achieved for the Palestinian conflict, which has lasted almost a century, and thus prevent radicals from manipulating it to destabilize the region (Hamas-Hezbollah) [1].

This is an attempt at a realistic solution, which will give the Palestinians all the powers to govern themselves but not threaten Israel. In this way, Palestinian sovereignty would be limited; the responsibility for security would remain in Israeli hands, as would the control of the airspace of the West Jordan River. «This vision creates a realistic two-state solution, in which a safe and prosperous Palestinian state will coexist peacefully with a safe and prosperous state of Israel, in a prosperous and safe region» [2], they assure from the White House.

To achieve this objective, Washington has detailed a specific economic plan, which will allow optimal conditions for investment to begin flowing through the area. According to the plan, combining a political solution with an economic vision and government reforms, will achieve historical economic growth. This will double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create one million new jobs, reduce the unemployment rate by 10%, and poverty by 50%; it is a plan that, in Trump’s opinion, is ready to be implemented. It will be financed with 50,000 million dollars, from Gulf countries and private entities, and will far exceed the 4,000 million that Barak Obama intended to inject in 2013 to improve and boost by 50% the economy of a possible Palestinian state.

Aside from investing in education, healthcare and improving the Palestinian system of government, which is currently divided between Hamas (in Gaza) and the Palestinian Authority (in the West Bank), Trump’s project aims to establish a free trade agreement with the United States, build a port in Gaza [3], and open a new trade route between the new State of Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, in addition to collaborating with Gulf countries. The purpose of generating this extensive commercial infrastructure, is to stabilize the region and bring opposing states closer together, since it would allow free trade and transit of civilians.

However, tension arises when we delve into the territorial distribution. This project allows Israel to annex the Jewish colonies that are scattered throughout the West Bank, the «occupied territories», and unite them in such a way that 30% of West Bank land would be subtracted from Jordan to Palestinian sovereignty. Likewise, Netanyahu’s wish to appropriate the Dead Sea coast (still in Palestinian hands), and the Jordan Valley would be granted. The latter is the only land border with Jordan that the Palestinians own, so its loss is perceived as the elimination of any direct contact with the Hashemite Kingdom, and access to water resources along the 100 kilometers of the land.

However, the hot spot of this resolution resides, precisely, at its very center: Jerusalem. Trump’s intention to make the Holy City (sacred to all three monotheistic religions) the capital of Israel was already evident in 2018, when he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv and recognised it as the «sovereign capital.” Now, he declares it «indivisible,» and grants the Palestinians the city of Abu Dis, on the western periphery of Jerusalem, as the capital of their new state. In exchange, Israel would relinquish control of some small Palestinian towns located in the Ara basin, northwest of the West Bank, and a desert area to the south that holds little value.

Finally, the Jewish state would build a technological business area and a semi-residential area for the purpose of employing Palestinians who live in Gaza. They would place it to the south, bordering almost with the Sinai peninsula, and with Egypt.

In order for the economic measures of the Peace to Prosperity project to be carried out, it is vital for the region to first be politically and socially stabilised. The deep rejection of Palestinian leaders does nothing but increase internal tension and instability. Thus, the «Plan of the Century» presents difficult and irregular conditions that complicate its implementation.

Context in which the Trump plan would be applied: Palestine
  • Internal situation and rejection

As previously mentioned, in addition to losing direct contact with Jordan, the Dead Sea coast, and a 30% reduction in West Bank territory, Palestine would lose any hope of reclaiming Jerusalem.

 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on February 1, 2020 that «Palestinian leaders could not go down in history like those who sold Jerusalem to Israel,» since there is also the Al-Mosque Aqsa, third holiest place for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina.

This is the same argument that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used to justify rejecting the dictates of the United States and Israel at the Camp David summit in 2000, knowing that “Arab autocrats may not care about rights. of the Palestinians, but they cannot show that they have surrendered Jerusalem. «

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) already declared during the Oslo negotiations that the eastern part of Jerusalem would be the non-negotiable capital of a future Palestinian state. However, under the new Trump project, Israel would take control of that area, which includes the Esplanade of the Mosques.

Abbas reclaims the cardinal principle of diplomacy, the balance. But Israel’s absolute supremacy on the ground, stemming from the disastrous Oslo accords, would do away with this concept.

Thus, the concession of desert territories to the north and south of Palestine, in exchange for losing control over 30% of the West Bank, is considered by the Palestinians to be «part of the plan that Trump wants to carry out to satisfy the Zionist objectives.” They also affirm that it is an excuse for this “apartheid” [4] and for a new division of territories that, though it would involve economic investments, does not recognise the dignity and rights of the Palestinian people.

  • Collaboration of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with Israeli security

The government situation in Palestine is certainly worrisome, because while the Gaza Strip remains under Hamas power, the West Bank is governed by the AP, which has been repressing protests by its own citizens for 20 years. In 2017, there was 95% coordination in security matters between the PA and the Israelis. For two decades, the latter has collaborated with them to secure power, using and encouraging civil revolts for their own benefit.

The representation of the Palestinian cause that civilians may have had years ago in the PLO or with Yasser Arafat is now almost extinct. Palestinians say they feel abandoned by a government that collaborates with Israel and subdues its own population. However, after the forceful rejection in January of the Trump Plan by the AP, Mahmoud Abbas terminated these relations with Israel and the White House, which would entail an «apparent» breakdown in coordination with Israeli security. The term «apparent» is used because the disconnection of Palestinian governments from their population is clear. Its main objective is to perpetuate its power and, to this end, a direct confrontation with the Israeli security forces would be of little benefit.

With this, Palestine joins its deepest political, social and economic crisis which may exhaust the last remnants of patience.

  • Failed peace agreements

To understand the current conflict situation and what Peace to Prosperity entails, we must analyse and extract the consequences of the failed peace accords, which fueled radicalism and the loss of sovereignty for the Palestinians.

With the disappearance of the USSR, the United States became the sole architect of a project of reconciliation between Palestine and Israel at the Madrid Conference in 1991. After continuous confrontations with the Jewish State (especially the 1967 Six Day War, where the Israeli aviation devastated Egypt’s main military bases, humiliating Abdel Nasser, and Yom Kippur of 1973, which was conceived as a victory for Sadat) [5], the Arab countries were forced to agree to peace, as they were unable to face more wars.

This conference grouped Lebanon and Syria on one side with Jordan and Palestine, on the other, which established bilateral agreements with Israel, until Jordan and Palestine distanced themselves in the negotiations. Five subjects were covered in which security, economic development and cooperation, and the refugee issue stand out.

The objective of this peace attempt was to search for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and to give rise to a new chapter. Likewise, the Jews intended to open the door for future covenants and cooperation between countries.

Without a doubt, the most complex issue discussed was the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, since the Jewish State has always expressed deep opposition to recognizing a State of Palestine, despite admitting an independent government. Israel accepted Palestine as an extension of Jordan, but not as a State. Refusal to deal with this conflict directly with the Palestinians sparked Israeli rejection when, as noted, Jordan and Palestine were divided in the negotiations. The principle of “assignment” was never brought up between the parties, so the agreement was doomed to failure.

However, this conference would mark, to a certain degree, the direction of the panorama in the region, since Jordan would finally break its historical link with Palestine after gradually ceasing to support its cause from 1987, after the First Intifada. By leaving the West Bank and recognizing only 22% of the territory of Palestine [6], Jordan normalized relations with Israel and made them public — until then, they had been kept secret.

Failure to meet the high expectations raised by the Madrid Conference caused great disappointment among the Palestinians, who then sought direct rapprochement with Israel through the Oslo1993-99 Conferences [7].

While Palestine’s intention was to deal with the issue of the occupied territories, Israel only sought to improve multilateral relations with the rest of the Arab States. For the first time, Israel would undergo increased pressure from these countries, and would be forced to enter into a direct bilateral deal with Palestine.

Once again, Palestine hoped that their autonomy and control over their territories would be recognised. However, this never happened. International attention to the Palestinian cause was diverted to the conflict between Israel and Lebanon due to the wars between 2000 and 2006, over territories that the former had occupied in the south since 1982. The armed group Hezbollah would emerge to reinforce the expulsion of the Israelis from the country.

The failure of the Oslo Conferences led to another attempt at peace in July 2000, at the Camp David summit. Bill Clinton would invite Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, and Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, to reach a new agreement. However, Israel could not face another defeat after the start of its withdrawal from Lebanon, so this attempted negotiation only resulted in an increase in Palestinian frustration.

The 2000s would be characterized by instability and the loss of the balance of power. In 2002, the Arab Peace initiative emerged. A realistic solution to the conflict with Israel in which the Palestinian territory would not be less than 22%, Palestine would be recognised as a State and Jerusalem as its capital, and the Israeli troops would withdraw from the territories occupied since 1967, from the High Golan and southern Lebanon. The weak organization of the Arab countries motivated Israel to refuse to leave these places, and even more, to yield the Holy City of Jerusalem. Again, the Jews strengthened their position with international support, and there was no resolution to the conflict.

The failed agreements increased Palestinian tension and frustration, radicalising the cause and sparking a second, much more violent Intifada, in September 2000. Due to the loss of Arab support (Egypt, Jordan), the PLO sought paramilitary groups and radicals like Hezbollah or Hamas. An accentuation of the conflict that ended in another Palestinian defeat and more control of the territory by Israel, which tightened taxes and laws against the population.

  • Loss of Arab support

The succession of failures has caused, little by little, the main allied States of Palestine to withdraw from the conflict and seek to establish new and prosperous relations with Israel. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Qatar have been branded as «traitors and incompetents» by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei for supporting Trump’s plan. Indeed, the President of the United States has the financial support and investment of several Gulf countries.

Therefore, much of the Middle East has been in favour of this new and «prosperous» solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict — something unthinkable a few years ago, when the Arab regimes feared the reaction of their population to the simple suggestion of normalising relations with Israel.

The Iranian ayatollah attacked the so-called «Agreement of the century» and called it «stupid», since, in his opinion, it would in no way lead to a definitive solution; nor would the intention of the United States to «sit down, spend money, invite, create and fuss and unveil a plan that is doomed to failure.» A plan that «tries to advance its plot with bribes, weapons and seductions» [8].

 In this way, the Palestinian conflict has lost its essence and has become a means for third states such as Iran, which, through «non state actors» (radicalized paramilitary groups like Hezbollah), seek to expand influence and dominance in the Middle East .

  • UN and EU vision

Both the UN and the European Union support a resolution that recognises the independence of the two states and that establishes a trade network in the region that can lead to prosperous and stable relations.

However, the UN (except the United States) strongly defends respect for the borders established in 1967, as evidenced by the by the United Nations Secretary-General in front of the Security Council [9].

For this reason, it radically disagrees with regard to the annexation by Israel sof 30% of the West Bank territory. In this sense, Michael Lynk, UN Special Reporter in charge of Human Rights in Palestine, affirms that «it is strictly prohibited by international law, beginning with the 1945 Charter of the United Nations.» Thus, the Trump project would offer a “one-and-a-half state” solution and completely disperse the Palestinian population in this territory. In addition, Lynk recalled that «the United Nations Security Council has condemned Israeli settlements for constituting a flagrant violation of international law, and the 1998 Rome Statute has considered them as alleged war crimes.»

On the other hand, Christian Saunders, Acting Commissioner General of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), noted that Palestinian refugees «need stability and the strong support of the international community.»

There is also a significant rejection of the Trump project by former foreign ministers, former prime ministers, or former leaders of the European Commission, the UN, or NATO. Around 50 European personalities are calling on the EU to condemn this plan on the grounds that it subjects Palestinians to “apartheid” [10].

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, supported the construction of a Palestinian State, “collaborating with both parties, regional actors and with all international partners in order to reactivate, in accordance with international law, a process policy that guarantees equal rights and is acceptable to both parties. ”

In short, both the UN and the EU agree on the recognition of both States, but, in accordance with previous resolutions and respect for the 1967 borders, they condemn illegal settlements in the West Bank and the division of the territory.

Spain-Israel foreign policy

The «balance policy» has governed Spain’s relations with the Middle East. Thus, Spain has traditionally maintained a close link with the Arab world, but also with Israel. On the contrary, the current government’s misguided strategies may jeopardize cooperation with the latter and, with it, the important opportunities that arise for Spanish companies and that bring a benefit to the economy of our country.

According to data published by the Diplomatic Information Office of the Foreign Ministry [11], Spain shares with Israel major technological development and innovation projects within the framework of EU programs. In turn, our agri-food sector, which currently suffers significant economic damage, distributes its products in Israel through numerous Spanish brands. The creation of infrastructure also plays a role in these bilateral relations, since a Spanish company has built the largest desalination plant in the country, and there is collaboration in the water and energy sector, as well as in the railway, public transport and telecommunications sectors, with innovation projects.

Likewise, at a tourist level, Spain received more than 300,000 Israelis in 2019, and some 100,000 Spaniards visited Israel, which is a transit point towards Latin America.

Lastly, the important fact stands that Israel is United States’ and the West’s main ally on the ground, collaborating mainly in matters of security, intelligence and the fight against terrorism. Thus, Spain has maintained close cooperation with the Israeli and American intelligence services to strengthen security against the jihadist threat.

Reconciliation with Israel depends on the Government and, when it is conservative, relations are sharpened. An example of this is the approval of Law 12/2015 on June 24, which grants Spanish nationality to Sephardim of Spanish origin without the need to reside in Spain. The Executive office explained this as the result of «a high degree of maturity and understanding,” as he described the approach toward Israel.

On the contrary, socialist governments have always kept a certain distance and have avoided intensifying such relations. This changing foreign policy with the Israeli State is an unfavourable strategy for Spain, which should decide what firm position to adopt.

Possible solutions

There are five possible outcomes for the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has been perpetuated for almost a century:

Creation of a single State: The ideal solution to create a secular State in which the coexistence of its population is possible. However, the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the conception of Israel as a Jewish state, with Jerusalem as its capital, make it practically impossible for this solution to be achieved.

Two States: Israel would recognise the borders delineated in 1967, under which Palestine would own 22% of the territory. Jerusalem would be the capital of both States (East for Palestine, and the West for Israel). However, Palestine refuses to acknowledge only 22% of its original territory and the Israeli colonization process is continually advancing. Therefore, it constitutes a realistic but overly optimistic solution, given the nature of the present conflict.

Three-State Solution: This possibility contemplates the creation of a main State of Israel, in which Arabs and Jews would coexist; one in the Gaza Strip, under the military control of Israel and, the other in the West Bank area, which could be annexed to Jordan.

The Trump Plan «Peace to Prosperity»: This approaches the second solution, since Palestine would be recognised as a State, but it would not have the same powers, since it would be deprived of military force and of border control, as well as its air space. This plan would entail an economic improvement, but none in terms of sovereignty and security.

Chaotic situation: The entrenchment of the conflict has already caused the loss of prestige of the Palestinian leaders, whose negotiating capacity has been diminishing to nonexistence. Their refusal to accept the situation and to give up certain demands has led to the radicalisation of a frustrated society abandoned by its own leaders. In turn, the United States has remained steadfast in its support for Israel since the beginning of this confrontation, due to the great power that the Jewish «lobby» possesses, and will support its objectives, whatever they may be.


The new attempt at peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict comes, once again, from the US Administration, which offers a favourable solution for the Jews due to the close relationship they share.

The creation of two States, with the recognition of Palestine, is considered a realistic way to end a fierce conflict. So far the conflict has caused several wars, two Intifadas, multiple failed international agreements, and the emergence and radicalisation of paramilitary groups, such as Hamas. or Hezbollah, through which Iran intends to expand its sphere of influence throughout the Middle East.

After the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1978, and the subsequent one with Jordan in 1994, the Palestinian cause has been disintegrating, and Arab support has weakened. After almost a century of confrontations and invasions, the main actors in the Middle East have accepted a realistic position and adopted cooperative measures with Israel, which, without a doubt, have facilitated access to bilateral relations with Western states. Furthermore, the divided governments of Gaza and the West Bank have shown no commitment to the Palestinian people, whom they have manipulated for over 20 years with the sole purpose of perpetuating their power. The same AP of Mahmoud Abbas, who collaborates with Israeli security, admits it has abandoned the interests of its citizens.

The results of the conflict have done nothing but damage the sovereignty and dignity of the Palestinians, who have gradually lost their territory and rights, and will continue to do so if they do not accept a practical solution. Israeli supremacy, backed by support from the United States, is undeniable.

Although the creation of two states receives the support from the EU and the UN, the establishment of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories does not, which Josep Borrell declares «illegal according to international law.” He claims they represent «the greatest obstacle to achieving a two-state solution» and «lasting peace.” Thus, it calls for compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, adopted on December 23, 2016 (with the absence of the United States) [12].

In short, Spain should bet on a realistic position, in which Israel and Palestine can definitively constitute themselves as States — taking into account the history of both regions, but also the current situation.

The prosperity of Palestine can only take place in a stable environment, where there are opportunities in the international and regional market and support and investment from the great powers. However, for a project of this magnitude to be developed, the rights and dignity of the Palestinians must be recognised first, that the illegal occupation of their territories must be stopped, and there must be a common government that does not abandon its citizens and that is not influenced by radical armed groups. In this way, it will be possible for Palestinians to become aware of and assimilate the end of a conflict that has continually diminished their hopes.

Therefore, Spain should recognise the rights of the Palestinians and join the international support of the UN and the EU, but also Israel should emerge as a partner of the West in the hostile Middle East. It is important to not only keep this ally at the other end of the Mediterranean, but to collaborate with them and with the United States in matters of security, defence and the fight against jihadist terrorism, which threaten the way of life, culture, beliefs and freedoms within our own country.

For this reason, Spain would do well to stabilise its foreign policy with this region and change its current strategy, which bases in relating to totalitarian and Chavist governments that attack the liberties of its citizens and provoke rejection by the United States for future collaborations on issues crucial for our well-being.

[1] The White House. (Jan, 2020). p.2. Peace to Prosperity. Retrieved from

[2] Idem p.3-4

[3] It was destroyed by an Israeli bombardment in 2018.

[4] Dana, Tariq (Feb 2, 2020). Trump’s Middle East plan may have a silver lining. Aljazeera

[5] Two of the wars led by Egypt that finally forced both sides to deal with the 1979 peace accords.

[6] Regarding the total of historical Palestine

[7] Divided into Oslo I and Oslo II

[8]  Harkov, Lahav. (Feb 5, 2020). Khamenei calls for Palestinian jihad on Israel after Trump peace plan. The Jerusalem Post

[9] (Feb 11, 2020). Dos Estados, única vía para la paz entre israelíes y palestinos. Noticias ONU.

[10] Sanz, J.C (Feb 27, 2020). 50 antiguos ministros y dirigentes europeos se pronuncian contra el plan de Trump para Palestina. El País Internacional.

[11] MAEUEC. (Jan, 2020). Ficha País Israel. Israel Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores. Retrieved from 

[12] Resolución 2334 (2016) del Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas. 23 de diciembre de 2016.  Retrieved from

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