Middle East: Why Kushner’s peace plan is doomed
The Trump administration’s much ballyhooed Middle East peace plan is dead on arrival, saidChemi Shalev in Haaretz (Israel). At a gathering in Bahrain last week, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, unveiled a $50 billion scheme to spur economic development in the Palestinian territories. The financial incentives are intended to persuade the Palestinians to make peace with Israel in “the deal of the century.” Kushner invited Arab leaders to discuss pledging money for his “pie-in-the-sky” ideas, such as an industrial park and a $5 billion superhighway connecting Gaza and the West Bank—something Israel would never allow. Kushner “promises projects that cannot be implemented, funded by money that does not exist, and contingent on a peace deal that will never happen.” No wonder Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas refused to attend the launch. The Peace for Prosperity plan was no better received by ordinary Palestinians, who burned effigies of President Trump and chanted “Palestine is not for sale!”
Kushner thinks the Palestinians can be squeezed so hard they’ll accept any deal that will ease their suffering, said Fawaz Turki in Gulf News (United Arab Emirates). The Trump administration cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians last year, even canceling funding for the United Nations agency that pays for schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in the Palestinian territories. The message is clear: “Eat humble pie and take it on the chin—or else.” But the Palestinians can’t be bought. The plan is “a hoax,” said Mustafa Al-Barghouthi in Jordan’s Sawaleif.com. That $50 billion is not largesse. Half of it comes in interest-bearing loans that will add to Palestinian debt, and another $11 billion is from private investors who “will seek to profit.” Much of it won’t go to the territories at all, but to Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, with the goal of settling Palestinian refugees there “and eliminating their national right to return.” Palestinians would directly receive only $800 million a year, the same amount the PA currently gets from Arab and European countries. But Kushner’s deal would make those payments conditional on Palestinians’ relinquishing their claim to Jerusalem and accepting Israel’s annexation of large parts of the West Bank. This is not an economic plan, but “a plan to destroy Palestinians’ national future.”
Palestinians insist a political settlement must come first, said The Jerusalem Post (Israel) in an editorial. But they “have not accepted even the most generous political solutions in the past,” including proposals for a state that would include most of the West Bank and Gaza. Hence the Trump administration’s attempt at economic inducements. Of course, one reason the Palestinians are in such dire economic straits is that Abbas won’t accept any of the millions of dollars in tax revenues Israel has collected on behalf of the PA, because Israel withholds the portion the PA allocates “to the families of imprisoned and dead Palestinian terrorists.” As usual, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.