Much has already been written about the new American vision for solving the century-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but only a few commentators understood its real importance.
The author of the 181-page plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, Jared Kushner, thinks the Palestinian leaders will again fail to seize the opportunity to resolve their dispute with Israel.
Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity
During an interview with CNN, Kushner said Palestinian leaders have screwed up every opportunity to settle the conflict with Israel, and that if they do so again, they will never have a state of their own.
“If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East,” Kushner said in another interview with Al-Jazeera.
Kushner pointed to the fact that the right-wing government in Israel is now on the verge of accepting the idea of a Palestinian state, a first in the history of the Jewish state.
“Palestinian Arabs need a real opportunity to lead a better life. They need dignity, they need jobs, they need opportunity, they need good leadership,” Kushner said, adding that “this is the best opportunity they have ever had and I really hope they seize it.”
Some think the deal favors Israel too much
Hebrew University Professor Eli Podeh, an expert on the Middle East and the peace process, thinks Kushner is the one who screwed it up.
Podeh says that “every successful peace agreement is a compromise that required each side to give up on demands that were perceived in the past as necessary and vital. They were never achieved by dictation or surrender. In a fair agreement, both sides leave with half (or less) of their desired outcomes. That is not the situation here.”
True, that’s not the situation here, but with good reason given that all the previous attempts to come to an agreement failed because of the stubborn Palestinian refusal to compromise on key issues, such as the non-existing ‘right of return’ or continued Jewish control over the lower part of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Arafat, Camp David, July 2000).
Trump and his team effectively turned the whole approach to the conflict and the peace processes on its head,according to Amit Segal, a left-wing commentator working for TV Channel 12 in Israel.
“While Israel will gain its concessions immediately and without conditions, the Palestinians now have to go through ten levels of hell if they want to gain theirs,” Segal said on Tuesday evening.
Indeed, for the first time in the two decades of the peace processes, the ball is in the Palestinian court.
Settlements are not an obstacle to peace
Israel will finally be able to end a 53-year lasting status quo in territories it legally conquered during the Six-Day War of 1967 and introduce Israeli sovereignty over Jewish villages and towns in these lands.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu was right when he stated in the White House that Trump scattered the old lie that these towns and villages are illegal. They are not as countless experts on international law have pointed out among them Professor Julius Stone in his opus magnum Israel Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations.
The Palestinian Arabs are now required to give up their maximalist demands as well as their belligerent behavior, including terror, payments to terrorists in Israel jails, the political war against Israel in international forums such as the UN, and the vicious incitement that brainwashed generations of Palestinian Arabs.
Endorsed by the Arab world
Another major change Kushner and his team pursued in the quest for a different approach to the conflict was winning over key Arab states for this radical change in the way the world deals with the Palestinian Israeli conflict.
Kushner repeatedly visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the other Arab Gulf States to discuss his new approach,and apparently had success.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia has made clear who’s to blame for the failure of the peace process when he during a visit to the United States said that for four decades the Palestinian leadership “has missed opportunities again and again and rejected all the offers it was given.”
“It’s about time that the Palestinians accept the offers, and agree to come to the negotiating table — or they should shut up and stop complaining,” MBS said during his meeting with American Jewish leaders.
MBS reportedly also pressured Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept Trump’s vision, but the aging PA leader would have none of it.
Palestinians remain intransigent
Prior to the roll-out of Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ Abbas insulted the US President by calling him “a dog and the son of a dog,” and made clear he preferred to die as a martyr for the Palestinian cause and would not become “a traitor”.
Abbas also teamed-up with his nemesis Hamas and with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in order to sabotage Trump’s plan by inviting them to Ramallah for an emergency meeting on the plan and its consequences.
The Palestinian leader later said that he and the other Palestinian leaders would say 1,000 times no to Trump’s initiative but he cannot ignore his most important sponsors in the Arab world: the Gulf States.
Arab world shifts toward America…and Israel
In this respect, it is interesting to see what the reactions of these states and Egypt were after the publication of Trump’s plan.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that called upon both sides “to carefully consider the US vision to achieve peace…and to open channels for dialogue to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis where they can discuss their visions under US patronage to reach a comprehensive and fair peace agreement that meets the aspirations and hopes of the two peoples and leads to an independent Palestinian state.”
So, Egypt doesn’t support the Palestinian position of rejection of the plan out of hand, and also takes into account the aspirations and hopes of the Israeli people, while endorsing the US as a broker.
Saudi Arabia, too, was very careful not to torpedo Trump’s plan right away, as has been the case with previous peace plans.
A statement by the Saudi Foreign Ministry welcomed the Trump plan and also endorsed the US as a broker in the attempt to solve the conflict for once and all.
“The kingdom encourages the start of direct peace negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States, and to resolve any disagreements with aspects of the plan through negotiations, in order to move forward the peace process to reach an agreement that achieves legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement read.
Then there were the other Gulf States who even let their ambassadors in the US attend the event in the White House.
Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates who was present in the White House said “the peace plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”
Kuwait also responded positively to the revelation of Trump’s peace plan, and said in a statement that it “highly appreciates” the vision.
“Acceptance (of the plan) by the parties is fundamental to the implementation and sustainability of the plan,” according to the Gulf State, which also made clear it still thinks a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs should be based on the pre-1967 armistice lines.
It is this new attitude by these Arab states that made the roll-out of Trump’s new plan truly historical, as Netanyahu said before he went to Washington, DC.