For many people, President Trump's inauguration has signaled the end of the two-state solution, America's long-standing approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Trump's blasting of the Obama administration for a U.N. resolution against Jewish settlements would appear to ring this policy's death knell.
Yet Trump may shock the world and broker a two-state deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. Here's why:
It's irresistible. Trump's a dealmaker. Sure, it's far more complex than any deal he's ever struck. But he has a better shot at mediating an Israeli-Palestinian agreement than making Mexico pay for a wall it opposes. Trump and his team would earn a chance to showcase their skills by figuring out the details of the two-state solution, such as land swaps to avoid uprooting hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers.
Nothing but upside. Few expect Trump to succeed where dozens of global leaders have failed, so he'd assume almost no risk trying to broker a deal. And the upside is huge: a Nobel Peace Prize, a place in history, and bragging rights over all living former U.S. presidents. Can you see him beaming as he live-tweets during the signing ceremony?
It would also help him geopolitically. While frowning at many of his proposals - fearing, for instance, a trade war - most nations would embrace his pursuit of the two-state solution. Even the majority of Israelis (68 percent) and American Jews (70 percent) support this approach, according to recent polls conducted by Smith Consulting and GBA Strategies, respectively.
Alleviate Israeli concerns. A deal would help lessen worries by Israeli intelligence officials about sharing classified info with the Trump administration. Although these concerns stem mostly from the Trump/Putin bromance, they also revolve around his seemingly uninformed approach to the Middle East.
Much as the U.S. intelligence community differs with the new commander-in-chief on some issues, Israeli intelligence officials view certain topics differently than their prime minister. For instance, they scoff at the prospect of America relocating its embassy to Jerusalem because they believe it would set off waves of violence. By seriously tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 45th president would reassure Israeli intelligence that he's competent.
Boost global intelligence sharing. This is a key component of the War on Terror. The two-state solution resonates with most U.S. allies. Pursuing it would help Trump stem the tide of mistrust against him. This may be one of the reasons his advisers have identified the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a top priority. They might be, in some people's eyes, a motley crew of neo-cons, but they know what's good for their boss.
Even the Palestinians - ruled by Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank - appear to view Trump's presidency as a historical opportunity. Three days before his inauguration, they announced after a meeting in Moscow that they plan to form a unity government. It's as if they're preparing to deal with him.
Fits Trump's vision for Mideast. The president has described George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq as a major destabilizing force. The logical next step would be to seek a counterbalance. Although other foreign policy issues such as NATO's future might be more pressing, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would introduce a desperately needed stabilizing factor to the region.
It's not totally up to Trump. In 1948, when newborn Israel fought for its life, it had a great friend in the White House - Harry Truman. But that did not stop the United States from undermining the creation and existence of the Jewish state. The State Department considered these actions to be in America's best interest. An indication of similar deviations came last week when, during her confirmation hearing, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said she supports the two-state solution.
It would let Trump praise an ally while doing what he must. Rhetoric and action sometimes diverge in foreign policy. Take former President Barack Obama, who often criticized Israel but acted like its best friend. For instance, in his final months in office, he awarded the Jewish state its largest-ever military package - $38 billion over 10 years. Trump may flip Obama's modus operandi - tweet the love while applying pressure.
Trump's a dealmaker. This could be the deal of his life.
Boaz Dvir, a Penn State assistant professor in journalism, is the producer of the PBS documentary, "A Wing and a Prayer." firstname.lastname@example.org