The interview that U.S. special envoy Jared Kushner gave to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Sunday strengthens the impression that the U.S. administration’s working assumption when it comes to the Palestinian leadership is that there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about. Truth be told, the way to a peace deal with Israel won’t come from the Palestinians, but rather from above, with the Arab world and the Americans dictating the terms. The interview was also intended to explain the American approach to the Palestinian public, directly through Al-Quds, and over the heads of the terrorist leaders of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
The American stance has been written on the wall for some time, but P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas either “didn’t know” or simply refused to accept it. The Palestinian rhetoric contains endless references about ousting the settlements, having east Jerusalem as their capital, a demand for the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, control of the Jordan Valley, and other delusions and imaginings whose entire purpose is to prevent any future deal with Israel.
The Americans are sick and tired of it. They sympathize with Israel as a strategic partner in their future plans, and the Palestinian refusal to cooperate interferes with them putting together a front against Iran.
It appears that the anachronistic and recalcitrant positions of Abbas and his people are anchored in bygone days.
That was a time when they were getting support from the Arab states, which traditionally fanned the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a mechanism with which to unite the ranks at home, and from European Union nations, which took positions that served the Palestinians and were hostile to Israel as a result of economic considerations, domestic Islamist threats and “small-scale but persistent” anti-Semitism.
But the Palestinians never saw that the bastards were changing the record. The Arab states that survived the specter of Sunni Islamism in the Arab Spring of 2011 are now preparing to confront the Iranian nuclear threat—with help from the United Stattes and Israel—and their attitude towards the conflict and an end to it has changed.
Because the Palestinians themselves are divided and in disagreement, the Americans are getting ready to offer them a kind of “bankruptcy” deal: If they reject one deal, they’ll be offered less the next time. Kushner is making it clear that the deal the United States expects to coerce upon the Palestinians will come in the form of a regional economic-diplomatic puzzle that involves Egypt and Jordan as well.
The strategic move has identified economic and security interests shared by neighboring countries that will function as leverage from above. Those who helped create the Palestinian problem to serve their own interests are the ones who will now have to put the Palestinian genie back in the bottle.
Dr. Reuven Berko was the adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem district police and a writer for Israel Hayom.