(June 25, 2018 / JNS) If there is something that has been made clear in recent months, it is that the Palestinians, in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, are not the masters of their own fate, but rather pawns wielded by foreign entities such as Iran and the European Union.
It is thus hard to see why the peace plan senior White House adviser Jared Kushner presented to Israel—and seeks to present to the Palestinians—is important.
Kushner, together with U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, visited the region this week. The fact that Kushner, who oversees the regional plan, rather than Greenblatt, who oversees talks with the Palestinians, was the dominant figure in this visit reflected an important message: while he met with top officials in Amman, Cairo and Riyadh, a visit to Ramallah is not in the cards.
With the Palestinian Authority’s position declining, the U.S.’s Middle East peace plan involves, more than ever before, the other Arab players in the region: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
With regard to the plan itself, Israel enjoys a sympathetic ear to its security demands that, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other well-known cabinet hawks have stated, involves the presence of Israeli security forces across Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley—at least, for now—but without imposing Israeli sovereignty.
As for Jerusalem, that depends on what Israel and the Palestinians consider “Jerusalem,” as the Americans do not rule out a Palestinian capital in the city’s east.
Current talks, however, seem to focus mainly on the crisis in Gaza,. It is safe to assume that Israel has a dominant partner in the United States, which is also determined to extract the burning and bleeding enclave from Iran’s grip.
Extracting the Gaza card from the grip of the Israeli left is a different and more complex story. The crux of America’s plan for Gaza centers on rehabilitating its political system, which means ridding it of Hamas’s rule. The question is how.
It is hard to see such a move transpire without a wide-scale Israeli military campaign in Gaza. There is no telling whether this is inevitable, but Hamas has certainly been supplying Israel with the excuse for an incursion that would put an end to the incessant hostility.
Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas’s “Fatahland” is unavailable. This goes beyond its rift with Washington over the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. This has to do with the provisional nature of Abbas’s leadership.
In his anti-Semitic speeches and cussing out of U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Abbas has burned all his bridges to Washington.
The Palestinian street is steeped with hatred. Dr. Nasser Laham, editor-in-chief of the Maan news agency, who is closely associated with Abbas, said in a recent interview that the Palestinian leader, an alleged moderate, was, in fact, “more radical than most,” and that the P.A. had “nothing more to discuss with the Jews other than their leaving this land.”
History, he said, is no stranger to the mass migration of entire peoples.
Amnon Lord, is an Israeli journalist with the daily newspaper Makor Rishon. His articles and essays about media, film and politics have been published in The Jerusalem Post, Mida, Azure, Nativ and Achshav.