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Trump and Netanyahu announce the peace plan at the White House Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump is nowhere near a deal on Middle East peace, but his long-awaited plan has immediate and dramatic implications for the reality on the ground.

Driving the news: The White House gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a green light to immediately annex about 30% of the West Bank, a step every previous U.S. administration vehemently opposed. Netanyahu plans to act on that opportunity as soon as Sunday.

Our thought bubble: If Israel does annex the Jordan Valley, it will entrench Israel’s control and fundamentally change the equation for any future negotiations.

  • Green-lighting annexations is an even more dramatic step from Trump than moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
  • It could also ultimately be the least reversible of those steps. Once annexation happens, it’s hard to reverse.

For Netanyahu, this could be the biggest moment in a political career that has been remarkable for its longevity but not for landmark accomplishments.

  • He stood alongside Trump during the announcement — just hours after surrendering immunity from three corruption indictments, and one month before an election that could bring his political career to an end.
  • Annexing the Jordan Valley could keep right-wing voters who’d considered backing Benny Gantz, his primary rival, in his corner. It would certainly be central to his legacy.

For the Palestinians, who have boycotted this process, the full benefits of the plan would come far more slowly even if they were willing to go along with it.

  • The plan envisions a Palestinian state if a number of conditions are met over four years, but rejects a “right of return” for refugees and grants Israel control of nearly all of Jerusalem — not to mention much of the West Bank.
  • That’s a complete non-starter. “They turned down three previous plans that included 100% of the West Bank,” says David Makovsky, who worked on a previous initiative led by then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

What to watch: Arab states like the UAE and Egypt that had previously stood by the Palestinians on this issue have offered cautious support for Trump’s plan. Only Jordan, where most Palestinians reside, has expressed concern.

  • If the annexations go ahead, experts worry Jordan could pull out of a landmark peace treaty with Israel.
  • Makovsky says annexation could potentially rally the rest of the Arab world against the deal, and would certainly overshadow other parts of the deal he considers creative and constructive.
  • There are also concerns among Israeli defense officials that the opposition of the Palestinians could turn into an uprising in the territories.

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.