Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Kushner Plan for Middle East Peace

Let’s see… economist Glenn Hubbard, previously of the George W. Bush administration writes an op-ed explaining that the Jared Kushner plan for Middle East peace resembles the Marshall Plan. It places economic development ahead of more difficulty political and cultural issues.

Now, David Makovsky, a seasoned Middle East commentator and diplomat comes back and explains that Kushner got it wrong. He quotes the eminent diplomat and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to the effect that they know better than the unseasoned Kushner.

In the interest of fairness, one presents both sides of the argument. In the interest of greater fairness, one notes that people like Makovsky and Blair have been working the problem for decades now… and have failed. They are not well placed to offer critiques of a radically new approach. They are well placed to recognize that they have failed. 

First, a few words from Hubbard:

The Trump administration’s Peace to Prosperity plan for the West Bank and Gaza is sensible and offers the best hope for building sustainable economies in the region. It may not be politically feasible: The Palestinian Authority boycotted the conference in Bahrain last week where Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner unveiled it. But it’s a promising approach to foreign aid in the Middle East and beyond.

The plan would marshal $50 billion in investment over 10 years in economies and governments of the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries. Its structure is based in part on the Marshall Plan, which helped revive Europe after World War II.

Since Hubbard is an economist, he believes in placing economic development ahead of politics and grievances:

The White House’s new plan is based on two important economic observations. First, private business, not charity, is what drives prosperity. Second, Palestinian businesses need access to capital.

The plan thus focuses on reforming business practices and building basic infrastructure. A good description of what makes up a thriving business sector can be found in the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report, which ranks countries by their business climates. It evaluates the ease of starting a business, employing workers, protecting investors and enforcing contracts.

The Trump administration’s Middle East initiative builds on these core elements for success. It emphasizes support for private business and talent development. It stresses the rule of law, including the ability to make and enforce commercial contracts. The accountability structure mimics that of the Marshall Plan, with continuing U.S. oversight. The plan also creates a fund that can be a conduit to provide capital directly to Palestinian business, as well as to international businesses that would build the capacity of the Palestinian business sector.

As you know, the Palestinian Authority was having none of it. They believe that they have legitimate grievances, and that nothing less than the destruction of Israel will satisfy their bloodlust.

In truth, their grievances have been stoked for decades now by well-meaning, but deluded Western leftists who see in Israel the triumph of Western values. Said leftists have happily manipulated Palestinians into thinking that they could be rewarded for terrorism. Thus, the Palestinians continue to be terrorists.

They saw the Kushner plan as an invitation to surrender. And they rejected it. In truth, opposing the Kushner plan meant that they would have to accept their own failures… and they are not capable of doing so. If they did not have support from the West, from people like Makovsky and Blair, perhaps they would be able to see more clearly.

Anyway, Makovsky explains:

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the Bahrain conference, charging that Kushner’s economic plan would seek to buy off Palestinian political aspirations by financial means. Given the circumstances, the Arab states in attendance thought it was not wise to invite Israeli government officials. Some Arab countries, in a sign of their ambivalence, did not send their finance ministers, relying instead on deputies.

Note the weasel words: “Palestinian political aspirations.” Palestinians want more independence and autonomy in their territories. They are incapable of understanding that given their predilection for terror tunnels, for sending rockets and flaming kites into Israeli civilian areas, they have forfeited their chance for autonomy. They ought to examine their own behavior before complaining about their political aspirations. And Makovsky would do better than echo their depraved thinking.

So, Makovsky quotes Kushner:

“What I found is the more I’ve dealt with the traditional policy community on this, people are just stuck in a paradigm that never seems to move forward.” He added that by inviting finance ministers, not foreign ministers, and members of business communities, he would be working with people who see the problem “the same way that I do, which is that it actually is a solvable problem economically.”

Kushner’s point was that the traditional way of looking at the Israeli-Palestinian issue is to zoom in to the core policy matters known as “final status” issues such as borders, Jerusalem and refugees, while treating economic issues as an afterthought.

As many have noted, Kushner’s approach was surely a step in the right direction. Even if it only signaled to the Palestinians that their campaign of terror was doomed to fail. Of course, they are hoping against hope that a Democrat will enter the White House in 2021 and start intoning paeans to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people.

So, Makovsky quotes Tony Blair, who has failed to advance the issue:

There was a telling moment in Bahrain when former British prime minister Tony Blair suggested to Kushner that the all-or-nothing approach may not be the right way to go. “Before we get a long-term solution, I would like to see at least a short-term agreement where the violence can be halted,” Blair said, noting that it would be “very hard to have a peace agreement” until the split between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza is resolved and “Palestinian politics is unified.”

And, whose responsibility is this political unification. Perhaps having a united economic interest will be a step toward such a unification. Perhaps speaking with one Western voice would persuade the Palestinians that the war is over and that they lost. Otherwise Blair seems to have run out of ideas.


Mimi said...

Kushner was naive. He underestimated the power of ideology and the ideology of power. This is more a lesson for him than everyone else - all of whom plainly saw it coming.

UbuMaccabee said...

I disagree, Miriam, I think Kushner is well aware of the ideology involved. It was a grand economic gesture that forced the West Bank and Gaza Arab political leaders (not necessarily the poor men and women in the markets) to formally reject it, and thereby provide perfect clarity of their real goals: kill the Jews and move in. The Arabs just turned down the opportunity of the Century, and it will be their last one.

Sam L. said...

The Palis have never missed a chance to miss a chance. They are so wrapped up in hate that they can't and don't think straight...and that's the state that their "leaders" want them in.