Opinion: Trump now has the power to forever alter Israel's character

It went almost unnoticed in Washington, but last week Israel’s political leaders decided to hand President Trump the power to destroy the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once and for all.  After three inconclusive Israeli elections, long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief opponent, Benny Gantz, finally agreed last Monday to form a government together, citing the urgent need to face the covid-19 pandemic. But there is onehuge exception: Starting July 1, Netanyahu, who will remain prime minister, will be allowed to seek a vote by his cabinet or the parliament on Israel’s annexation of more than 30 percent oftheWest Bank, where the majority of the would-be Palestinian state’s population lives. In theory, the land grab is legitimized by the Middle East “peace plan” Trump released in January, which calls for the creation of a weakPalestinian state on the chopped-up remains of the territory. In practice, if Israeli annexation goes forward without Palestinian or Arab agreement, it will not only kill Trump’s plan; it will make a two-state settlement impossible. According to David Makovsky, a former State Department analyst now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Netanyahu perceives a “historic opportunity to fulfill long-term territorial goals.” It’s probably for that reason that he agreed to the new government; it’s certainly the cause of his insistence on the July 1 date, which, Makovskypoints out, hedges against the risk that Trump will lose the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, who would certainly oppose annexation. Gallery: A history of the Middle East peace process (DeutscheWelle) Trump’s motivation is transparent: In this election year, he wishes to galvanize the evangelical Christians and minority of U.S. Jews who support a “greater Israel,” while casting Democrats who disagree as anti-Zionist.