The regional tour of Donald Trump’s primary Middle East envoys—his lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—has concluded. So, it’s an appropriate time to take stock of the peace plan the Trump team seems to be formulating.
Only the Trump team seems particularly eager to see this plan come about, which is telling. It is hard to be optimistic about the deal, given that the Kushner & Greenblatt Traveling Road Show met with everyone involved except the Palestinians. No matter what Jason and Jared may have heard, none of their Arab interlocutors is in a position to move forward on a deal that the Palestinians have summarily rejected.
Trump approaches the entire question of Palestine transactionally, in line with his approach to most issues. This view was reflected in an interview Kushner gave to the Palestinian newspaper, al-Quds. He told reporter Walid Abu-Zalaf, “At the end of the day, I believe that Palestinian people are less invested in the politicians’ talking points than they are in seeing how a deal will give them and their future generations new opportunities, more and better paying jobs and prospects for a better life.”
If Kushner believes that a slight uptick in average household income will obscure Palestinian concerns about settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, and the very nature of their national existence, he is gravely mistaken. But the entire interview seems to reflect just such a view. Referring to Palestinian spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh’s statement that the US efforts were doomed, Kushner remarked that the “Palestinian leadership is saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it because it will lead to new opportunities for them to have a much better life.”
These statements make it clear that Kushner has not only misunderstood the Palestinian leadership, but Palestinians in general. US negotiators have routinely, and justifiably, been accused of being deaf to the pulse of the Palestinian people, but Kushner seems even more hard of hearing than usual. And there is virtually no chance that Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, or certainly Trump himself know any more about Palestinian sentiments than Kushner does. Continue reading at Lobelog
Take a particularly provocative and grandstanding Israeli government and shift its focus from Hamas and Gaza to Jerusalem and you have a most explosive recipe. That potion is being stirred now, and the results could shake up the status quo in a way that we have only seen a few times in Israel’s history. Read more at LobeLog
Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood continues on the diplomatic front with the opening of two sets of talks this week in Cairo. One set will have Egypt brokering discussions with Fatah and Hamas on the future of governance in the Gaza Strip, while the other will see Egyptian and Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives shuttling between Hamas and an Israeli delegation.
Although Egypt brokered the ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel that ended 50 days of rockets flying out of Gaza and Israel, which devastated the tiny strip, it cannot have escaped Hamas’ notice that Egypt has an agenda of its own—and it is shared with just about every other party involved. Read more at LobeLog.
This article appeared originally in an edited form at LobeLog.
According to reports, Egypt has given both Israel and Hamas a take-it-or-leave-it plan for ending the current round of violence. It bears examination, not only for its own intrinsic worth, but also for the implications it has. As of this writing, Hamas has indicated it does not find the proposal “sufficient” in addressing their demands, and Israel has yet to respond directly.
Here is what has been reported: Continue reading
Israel seems to be failing to make the (false) case that it is not trying to harm civilians in Gaza. People aren’t buying it this time. True, the politicians haven’t changed. But the public response has been sharp. There are still plenty of people to whom Palestinian life has no value, and they fully support what is Israel is doing, but that now seems to be the dividing line. I explore today at LobeLog.
An edited version of this piece originally appeared at LobeLog.
The fighting in Gaza will continue for some time, as a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt fell apart. Despite the bellicose
The remains of the Ministry of Interior’s Civilian Affairs office after Israeli bombardments in Gaza City, November 2012. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan
language Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has employed over the past week, it was Hamas and not Israel that rejected the proposal. This was, to be sure, the direct result of that proposal not meeting any of Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire and, because as one Israeli official put it, “…we discovered we’d made a cease-fire agreement with ourselves.” The dynamics of this turn of events are important and tell us much of how the ground has changed in the region.
We first must ask why Hamas rejected the Egyptian proposal. They have been rather clear about their reasons:
- One, Hamas felt, quite correctly, that Egypt had essentially negotiated this deal with Israel, then presented it as a fait accompli to Hamas. In fact, they said they first heard about it through social media.
- Two, Hamas has declared that they intend to come out of this round of fighting with some gains. In particular, they want to see the siege that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, the release of all the prisoners who had been re-arrested recently after being freed in exchange for Hamas freeing Gilad Shalit in 2011, and the negotiation of a long term truce, as was agreed in 2012, but never acted upon. The terms of the proposal offered no such relief, or any real change to the status quo.
- Three, many among Hamas and other groups believe this proposal was deliberately put forth by Egypt as one Israel would accept and Hamas would reject, in order to legitimize further attacks on Gaza. The way things have unfolded, they may very well be correct.
What we’re seeing now in Israel-Palestine is what this looks like when the US-led peace process is removed and nothing replaces it. Maybe it’s better than an institutionalized process that serves only to sustain the occupation while Israel gobbles up more land for settlements, maybe it’s even worse. That is for Israelis and Palestinians especially to decide. What is certain, however, is that it is a more overtly violent and volatile situation and a fertile ground for the plans of annexationists in Israel. I explore today at LobeLog.