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Trump’s Middle East peace plan isn’t meant to be fair

Trump’s Middle East peace plan isn’t meant to be fair

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.


It used to be that most people assumed time was on the side of the Palestinians. Their demographic growth would eventually force Israel to capitulate to their demands. But that hasn't happened. Israel has proved capable of keeping its own democracy separate from Palestinian demands for their own homeland. In the two decades following the Clinton peace proposal that the Palestinians rejected, Israel has continued its growth as one of the region's preeminent economic, military and technology powers.

The sovereignty of the Palestinian people, meanwhile, kept being worn away, a function of both expanded Israeli settlements and, more recently, US actions like moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

Even more problematic for the Palestinians has been the Arab world's waning interest in their cause. In 2020, Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE have greater incentives to draw close to Israel, not only on the shared threat from Iran, but also on cybersecurity, intelligence sharing, and data/surveillance capabilities. And while the US has never been a particularly adept interlocutor between Israel and the Palestinians, it has – particularly under Trump – been surprisingly effective as a broker between Israel and the major Arab powers.

In part that's because the US doesn't need the Middle East the way it used to. Thanks to the US energy production boom of the past decade, Washington is free to be more selective in the goals it pursues there, and less concerned about keeping all sides happy. Hence the deal we saw today.

So far, Palestinian leaders have refused to even engage with the Trump administration's proposal, and it is hard to blame them. The deal doesn't give Palestinians control over Haram al-Sharif (i.e. the Temple Mount). It doesn't allow them to make core east Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state – it instead relegates a Palestinian capital to the outskirts of the city.

It gives any Palestinian state control over just 70 percent of the West Bank after formalizing the legal rights of Israeli settlers already there. And perhaps most problematic of all, it does not allow a Palestinian state to offer a "right of return" for Palestinians living outside the borders of any new Palestinian state.

But it does give the Palestinians one critical thing, whether they want to accept it or not—and that's not only the promised $50bn in infrastructure investment that the Palestinian people desperately need. The Trump proposal, like it or not, gives them the best deal they're likely ever going to get, given the realities of power in the Middle East today.

Again, this is not a peace deal designed to make both sides equally happy or unhappy. It's one designed to force the weaker party to acknowledge their increasingly weak hand, and to strike a deal before it gets weaker. It's a novel approach to the conflict, but it may make all the difference in the world.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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