There are yet more shudderings from Jared Kushner that he’s about to unveil the deal of the century. The peace deal no one much wants, but which Trump has promised. Therefore, it must make its appearance, even though it’s DOA. Or to be more classical, it’s:
…But a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
In the past week, Kushner and his trusty Sancho Panza, Jason Greenblatt have crisscrossed the Middle East, visiting Israel and its Sunni bros–the Gulf emirs, pasha and potentates–laying the groundwork for impending release of the new plan. Word has it that the deal is “imminent.” Which reminds me of Condi Rice’s ill-fated characterization of Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War as offering the “birth-pangs of a new Middle East.” You remember, the war that led to the deaths of 1,100 Lebanese and scores of Israelis? The war that brought nothing new and much that was old, including senseless sectarian murder.
Shut out of the current proceedings by design (by choice) have been the Palestinians, who want nothing to do with the entire charade. Unfortunately, the Palestinians appear to be the odd man out concerning the deal. Saudi Arabia has bigger fish to fry: Iran. Jordan needs enormous amounts of relief considering the millions of Syrian refugees it currently houses. It cannot stand alone against the U.S.-Saudi juggernaut. So King Abdullah seems to be dutifully wagging his tail like an obedient puppy going to Washington to hear his master’s (Trump) voice.
Though the Palestinians may be alone, they are not powerless. Since they have virtually nothing, there is little punishment anyone can inflict that could bring them to heel. Trump has already turned off the spigot of U.S. aid directly to them, and to UNWRA. The Saudis haven’t been major players financially for some time (though they have promised billions in bribes should Abbas betray his people and sign on the dotted line).
Kushner is wisely concealing what little substance there is in the plan. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times almost laughably portrayed it:
Details of the plan that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, and Jason Greenblatt, the special envoy for the Mideast, are shopping around have not been publicly disclosed except for broad outlines. It is likely to focus on what are called interim issues, such as security and the economy, and not on “aspirational” issues like Palestinian statehood.
So, the plan won’t focus on resolving the truly knotty, substantive issues regarding territorial sovereignty and refugees. Instead, it will focus on those old shibboleths murmured by Israeli prime ministers and U.S. presidents, who wanted to appear to be doing something while doing nothing. We’ll help with security by sending U.S. military advisors to train Palestinian security forces so they can better suppress their own people’s protests against their rotten leaders. And so they can deter Palestinian resistance to Israeli Occupation.
Then we’ll ease the economic plight of Palestinians by sending them Care packages and humanitarian assistance. Such bribery is supposed to lull Palestinians to sleep, making them forget the political and national rights they demand. It’s as if the U.S. and Israel believe Palestinians can be bought off because they only care about earning a dollar. This is not only a cynical approach, it’s a fatal miscalculation of Palestinian aspirations.
Well, it’s no mirage to Palestinians. And they’re not stupid enough to believe that the U.S. can offer Israel everything it wants and the Palestinians nothing in return. They may not be full agents of their own destiny. But they’re not fools and they know when they’re being suckered.
Here are more provisions of the deal:
The current proposal would probably expand some of the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority but without ensuring a contiguous territory, several experts said. It has long been an insurmountable sticking point, in the Palestinian view, that Jewish settlements built by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem bisect what would become an independent Palestinian state.
Any plan also is likely to provide for indefinite Israeli control of airspace and a section of the Jordan River valley on the eastern border of Israel and the West Bank as a security measure. The Palestinians consider that control a violation of any sovereignty they may gain.
…The long-term status of Jerusalem is not likely to be solved or even tackled in any Kushner-Greenblatt deal. There have been suggestions that it would give several eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, including suburbs, to the Palestinians, but not any part of the heart of the holy city.
In short, it’s a plan designed to delight Palestinians!
That brings us back to statehood, that Palestinian “aspiration.” We have gone from U.S. presidents who called for a two-state solution, to a U.S. president who has recognized Israel’s capital in Jerusalem and submerged that second state under the verbal miasma of an aspiration. Statehood is now something like a dream, an evanescent mirage floating somewhere off in the distance in the Arabian desert.
I’m amused that Kushner has taken to blaming Abbas for the future failure of this plan:
“To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions,” he said. “I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”
Let’s be clear: it isn’t Abbas who can’t make a deal involving compromise. It is Kushner himself who’s failed at this, since his plan offers nothing to Palestinians and everything to Israelis.
“Palestinian leadership is saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it.”
Oh yeah, they’re gonna love it! You have to ask yourself: is he saying this because it’s all he can say and he knows it’s bullshit. Or is he saying it because he believes it?
Kushner added more disingenuous criticism of the Palestinian leadership:
Kushner criticized Palestinian leaders for the poor state of the economy in the West Bank and Gaza, and said they were “scared” that the U.S. peace plan would actually be welcomed by the Palestinian people.
Who does he think controls the West Bank economy and severely limits its growth through a myriad of repressive and constrictive measures? Israel of course.
Those conscientious humanitarians Bibi Netanyahu, David Friedman and Jared Kushner met in Israel to discuss the “means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated…” More pablum from the invaders and occupiers and their facilitators. There is talk that Kushner has lobbied the Gulf states to create a billion-dollar fund to support energy projects, and that they’ve entertained the idea of a Gaza infrastructure trust fund which somehow would bypass Hamas and Israel. The very idea that Israel would permit such an arrangement is laughable (unless, of Course it could exercise full control via a proxy).
Then you have the further problem of the next war, when Israel’s air force will dutifully reduce to rubble all those expensive infrastructure projects, as it did in 2014. What is all this but an exercise in Kabuki theater…
Let’s dispense with the nostrums. There is only one way to alleviate Gaza’s suffering: by lifting the illegal siege imposed by Israel and to a lesser extent, Egypt. Get out of Palestine. Stop stifling its economy. Let it be free.
There is no other way to alleviate such suffering. There is no palliative. Sending ten more trucks filled with food; or ten more trucks filled with cement; or ten more trucks filled with medicine is worse than nothing. It’s an insult. It allows those violating international law to say they care enough to stop one less Gazan baby dying of hunger or dysentery.
The problem with the Middle East is that outsiders who attempt to impose their will on the indigenous inhabitants tend to be the ones who come out looking like suckers: witness the Russians and a score of foreign invaders over the centuries who believed they could tame Afghanistan; not to mention the British who connived as early as 1920 to turn Iraq into a vassal state; or the CIA, which thought it could impose the U.S.-toady Shah on Iran after deposing a democratically elected prime minister in 1953; or the Israelis who have “won” every battle against frontline states throughout their history only to face losing the war.
The upcoming deal of the century is yet another cynical, self-serving attempt, this one by a pro-settler American Jewish cabal, to “solve” the Middle East problem. It will not end well.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.