In a private meeting on May 28 with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that his administration’s “deal of the century” between Israel and the Palestinians is “currently unexecutable.”
Although details of Washington’s much-touted plan for a resolution of the conflict have yet to be revealed, the Palestinian Authority rejected it publicly even before it had begun. This was to be expected. Every previous agreement put forth or brokered by the United States, including those that involved serious Israeli territorial and other concessions, has resulted in greater, not less, Palestinian intransigence and violence towards neighboring Jews.
Indeed, the Fatah-led P.A. in Ramallah and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip both have made it crystal-clear that their goal is neither peace with Israel nor independent Palestinian statehood, but rather the destruction of the Jewish state. In fact, the latter is one of the few issues on which the two terrorist entities are in complete agreement. About all else, they are at each other’s throats, literally and figuratively.
As if this weren’t reason enough to doubt the feasibility of any plan requiring Palestinian cooperation, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas has been open about his refusal even to consider what U.S. President Donald Trump’s team has to offer.
In fact, on the very day that Pompeo was convening in New York with Jewish leaders—whom he told that he understands why “people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love”—Abbas was at a ceremony in Ramallah denouncing Trump’s “deal of disgrace,” which he said “will go to hell.”
Abbas made this charming statement while reiterating that he would have nothing to do with the upcoming U.S.-sponsored economic conference in Bahrain, aimed at boosting P.A. resources and development. The June 25-26 conference, Abbas said, “will also go to hell … because they are selling us illusions that will lead to nothing.”
Abbas ought to know about “selling illusions” since he has been engaging in that particular endeavor with aplomb for decades. Yes, he has managed to manipulate the international community into pouring money into his corrupt regime, while persuading those holding the purse strings that all he longs for is a homeland for his people to call their own.
The one thing that he hadn’t banked on, however, was an administration in Washington that not only would call his bluff, but hold him accountable for the misery of the people he pretends to represent and for the lack of peace with Israel.
Imagine his shock and chagrin at the way in which the powers-that-be in the White House and State Department have been behaving. You know, as true allies of the only democracy in the Middle East should: unabashedly acknowledging that Israel, a member of the West in spite of its geographical location, is superior to thugs who deny its right to exist and glorify martyrdom in the name of Allah.
To make matters even worse for the aging despot, the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; vetoed a Security Council resolution denouncing the gesture; moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; backed Israel’s actions against Hamas-spurred border violence; confirmed that it would cease funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) over its anti-Israel activities and perpetuation of a false refugee problem; closed the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington; and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In response to the Jerusalem move, Abbas declared a “boycott” on team Trump. It was a comical move on the P.A. leader’s part because all it elicited from Trump’s Mideast advisers and envoys was a shrug. Oh, and repeated criticism on social media about the Palestinians’ pro-terrorism stance.
The moral clarity of the American administration, especially at a time when it is launching a peace initiative, is not merely commendable. It is downright courageous.
Anyone who still fears that such unapologetic support is a precursor to Trump’s calling in his chips from Israel when the time comes to make a deal is misreading the landscape. Even Trump has lowered his expectations. Of the Palestinians, that is.
“If we can get a Mideast peace plan, that would be good,” he said last week when asked about Pompeo’s skepticism. “Most people think it can’t be done. I think it probably can. But as I say often, we’ll see what happens.”
Sadly, we already know.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”