The Guardian #view on #Trump and #Israel -#Palestine: the reality behind Kushner’s fantasy

أخر تحديث : jeudi 27 juin 2019 - 4:09
The Guardian #view on #Trump and #Israel -#Palestine: the reality behind Kushner’s fantasy

Some political performances illuminate an issue; others, like this week’s charade in Manama, Bahrain, are meant to conceal. After all the Trump administration’s grand talk of “the deal of the century” in the Middle East, the launch of its first, economic aspect has been both absurd and bathetic. The Palestinian refusal to attend has meant that Israel is also absent. This is a play missing its stars and half the cast as well; the Arab states involved have sent lower-tier officials. Even its instigator, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, talked of a workshop rather than a conference; of a vision rather than a plan

Economy-first approaches have been tried before, and failed even with realistic roadmaps and more trusted interlocutors. The gap between Mr Kushner’s illusion and the realities of this seven-decade conflict could hardly be starker. It is encapsulated by the Peace for Prosperity document – more brochure than blueprint – and the fact that several of its photos are images of programmes cancelled after the US withdrew aid to Palestinians, to predictably grim effect

It is clear that the Trump administration hopes to substitute economic incentives for basic rights. Even if the Palestinians were minded to accept such a trade-off – and their remarkable unity in boycotting the event proves they are not – most of those incentives are illusory. This is a fantasy $50bn plan, and unfunded; Washington seems to have mistaken the keenness of Gulf states to develop ties with Israel for a willingness to openly take its side and pay the bill. Many of these initiatives have been proposed before – in some cases, more than a decade ago – and are unachievable under current conditions. The report advocates them nonetheless because it simply refuses to recognise that the biggest obstacle to economic development is the West Bank’s occupation and the blockade of Gaza

The derisive reception for the first stage of the US “peace plan” for the Middle East is deserved

It is increasingly unclear whether the political half of the plan will materialise, at least before a second Trump term. But the record of this administration gives a good idea of what one might expect. The love lavished on Benjamin Netanyahu; the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem; the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington; the recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights – all have destroyed the possibility of the US being seen as a broker, never mind an honest one

Many suspect that the real purpose of Mr Kushner’s efforts is not to persuade Palestinians, but to allow them to be blamed as the roadblocks to peace when they reject an obviously unacceptable offer – while the facts are reshaped on the ground, by a rightwing Israeli government with US encouragement. It could become “a predicate to move towards annexation”, suggested one of Barack Obama’s negotiating team

This month alone, Mr Kushner has doubted the Palestinian ability to self-govern, while US ambassador David Friedman has said Israel has the right to retain some of the West Bank. The administration has repeatedly refused to commit to the two-state solution and the US special envoy Jason Greenblatt says there is no reason to use the term, because “every side sees it differently.” There is only one way to see the alternative: a single state which could not be both Jewish and democratic. The fantasy proffered in Manama does nothing to disguise that reality

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