Middle East Briefs
Parallel to the Center’s scholarly work, Middle East Briefs provides a brief analysis of a single issue at the top of the region’s political, social, or economic agenda. Targeted primarily at decision-makers and opinion leaders, the publication was launched in 2005.
October 2020 – Annexation, the Trump Plan, and the Future of Palestinian-Israeli Relations
Middle East Brief 138 (Summary) — The Israeli government’s declaration in April of its intent to vote on a unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank—as outlined in the Trump peace plan—prompted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas the following month to "absolve" the PA of all agreements and understandings with Israel and the U.S., thereby ending coordination in security, economic, and civil affairs. Although plans for annexation have now been "suspended" as a result of the Israeli-Emirati normalization deal announced in August, those links remain severed, and the threat of annexation remains unresolved. In this Brief, Khalil Shikaki analyzes the strategic game of chicken between Abbas and Israeli leaders and argues that each side is waiting for the other to concede as the PA weakens and moves toward gradual collapse. This standoff continues, despite the Israeli-Emirati agreement, because Palestinians believe that annexation is not "off the table." The Brief reveals how the suspension of relations has affected Palestinians and what the threat of annexation means for stability and the diplomatic process.