IN JERUSALEM'S OLD CITY, prices are seldom posted. Negotiating is not only welcomed but necessary. It is customary for the merchant to initially ask for a price far in excess of what both parties know to be reasonable. When such an offer is made, it is perfectly valid for the customer to reject the offer; only then does the real negotiation begin. But if the merchant’s counteroffers get progressively higher, it is perfectly justifiable for the customer to question whether the vendor is genuinely interested in selling.
For the past 30 years, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has often resembled a dysfunctional bazaar transaction. With each round of negotiations, Palestinians have been asked to pay a higher and higher price. The Trump administration plan released in June, called “Peace to Prosperity,” is no exception. But why are its terms so unacceptable to Palestinians?
Palestinian political leadership has consistently expressed its aim to establish a sovereign state in which the Palestinian people can exercise national self-determination. As Israeli-Palestinian peace talks over the past quarter century have demonstrated, the issues of borders, Israeli settlements, and Jerusalem are all negotiable to some extent, but any plan that requires Palestinians to relinquish the fundamental aim of national sovereignty is setting the price too high.