Sunday, June 23, 2019

Jared's Conference in Bahrain

By now you know that Jared Kushner’s peace plan is doomed to failure. The Kushner plan, which will be officially unveiled Tuesday at a conference in Bahrain, has been denounced by every Middle East hand the media has been able to find.

Naturally, the Palestinian Authority, never missing a chance to miss a chance, has rejected the plan out of hand. Their representatives will not be present in Bahrain. Nor will, presumably, Israeli officials. This does not mean that no Israelis or Palestinians will be present. Business leaders from both sides might still show up.

We must note that all the world’s diplomats have been working on producing peace between Israel and the Palestinians for decades now. They have all failed. This means that they have a stake in Kushner’s failure. If a rank amateur can solve a problem that has eluded the great minds of world diplomacy, the shame will almost be too much to bear.

In two ways the Trump administration approach deviates from past diplomacy. First, the Trump administration has rejected the position of honest broker and has sided with Israel. This has, as you might expect, infuriated the Palestinians, who never miss a chance to hate America, to hate Israel and to hate American Jews like Kushner. Second, the Kushner plan emphasizes economic exchange and economic reform in the Palestinian territories. It sidesteps the political issues and goes straight for the economic.

We should also note that the Trump administration has strongly sided with Saudi Arabia in its conflict with Iran. Naturally, Congresspeople from both parties think that this is very bad. One does not see how anything can be solved in the region without direct Saudi participation.

By the Kushner plan regional economic development is the path to peace. Like it or not, it is not a dumb idea. And yet, how many others have taken the same route... thus sidestepping the grievance narrative that seems baked into all discussions?

Having sacrificed three generations of their children for a phantom cause, and having gained international support by committing acts of terrorism against Israelis, the Palestinians refuse to come away with very little for their efforts. Right now they are being supported by Iran and they are hoping against hope, as are the Iranians, that the Trump presidency will end in 2021. Thus, they think that a Democrat will give them a better deal.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, tweeted this:

First lift the siege of Gaza, stop the Israeli theft of our land, resources & funds, give us our freedom of movement & control over our borders, airspace, territorial waters etc. Then watch us build a vibrant prosperous economy as a free & sovereign people.

Of course, this is idiocy. It’s a blame-the-Jews attitude that has worn thin. If the Palestinians call off their war against Israel, if they had accepted the peace plan offered by Bill Clinton, they could have had all of the above-- with the obvious excepting of a right to return. They have consistently rejected all such proposals.

As for the conference attendees, the list is impressive. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Officials from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Morocco will be part of the gathering, as well as representatives from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and businesspeople from Israel, the Palestinian territories, the Middle East and Europe.

According to the White House, Colony Capital Chief Executive Thomas Barrack Jr., Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson will be among those appearing on panels at the event. The White House said 328 people will attend the workshop.

The U.S. would place funds raised for the effort into a fund administered by a multinational development bank, according to the plan. The blueprint calls for funds for 179 economic development projects, mostly in the West Bank and Gaza but also in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. They include water, power, tourism, medical facilities and telecommunications projects.

Among the more interesting and pertinent commentaries comes this one from a Saudi diplomat, in the Jerusalem Post:

“History and Allah brought a real opportunity,” a top-ranking Saudi diplomat told Israelis via an interview in Globes on Friday, “the blood conflict had lasted too long, us Saudis and all Gulf States plus Egypt and Jordan realize that the age of going to war with Israel is over.”

He further stated that despite the understanding among Saudi people that the age of war with Israel needs to end, the kingdom has a deep commitment to the Palestinians.

“Maybe it is hard to them to part with the character of the ever-suffering victim and they don’t believe they could survive without it,” he said, noting that if they accept the American peace plan they will be given “sums they never dreamed of.”

The official slammed Palestinian leadership as “irresponsible” for not even considering the Deal of the Century, which will bring 60 billion USD to their people, he said.

The diplomat argued that one of the reasons for this refusal is the Palestinian perspective that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not be able to sell a peace-deal to the Israelis and so they can wait until a leader who is more suitable to their needs might appear.

While too many people are in it for the drama, the work of diplomacy is reflected in the Saudi official’s rather more constructive statement.


Quinn said...

Nice post.Keep sharing. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hello Stuart!

Shira P. Upton said...

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Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The cult of victimhood expressed in the Palestinian diplomat’s statement reveals the core of why this issue will never be resolved.

There is too much in power, money, weapons, international empathy, time, attention, media coverage, etc. to ever break the culture of despair — which has now become cyclical economic aid followed by collapse and the next round of groveling for more cash infusions. The result is endless squalor, and yet another generation that accepts that this misery and hopelessness is all there is. Meanwhile, the larger Arab world is now walking away from the Palestinians, wanting to quarantine this insidious victimhood. I fear we are beyond the time when we can make any progress. The Palestinian Authority has been an abject failure.

Jared Kushner has a thankless job. The good news is that he can’t do worse than those before him. And his background outside of politics and international development will certainly be an advantage. The essence of the problem is that Kushner is an American Jew and I don’t see any way the Palestinians would ever allow him to succeed.

Cynical? Follow the narratives and incentives. Both have to change for there to be any progress.