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.

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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