It takes two hands to clap and neither side in this 70-year-long saga is shaking hands. Instead, naked hostility reigns largely engendered by the Trump administration’s biased approach serving the Jewish state. Bad enough that according to leaks there is no two-state or even one-state in the offing. Instead a demilitarised, non-contiguous Palestinian enclave on 30 per cent of the occupied West Bank has allegedly been proposed with its ‘capital’ on [occupied] Jerusalem’s outskirts.
Gaza’s future looks even more uncertain. It is certain that Egypt will not and cannot relinquish one inch of its land to extend the world’s largest open-air prison. Whether or not the Egyptian government would assent to the opening of the Rafah Crossing is as yet unclear.
However, that humanitarian endeavour, which ordinarily might sound like a reasonable option, would present Cairo with massive security problems given Gaza’s armed groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and others with links to hostile entities behind terrorist attacks targeting Egyptians.
It is no wonder that the unveiling of the political component of the peace plan has been delayed. It was meant to be announced immediately following Ramadan but has been put on the back-burner until Israel holds elections on September 17 that could result in the toppling of the US president’s great friend Benjamin Netanyahu.
And in light of a recent statement from the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman it is a stretch to believe that the US is serious about peace. In answer to Netanyahu’s pre-election pledge to annex parts of the West Bank that have always been slated for a Palestinian state, Friedman told the New York Times that “Israel has right to some, but unlikely all”.
The already toxic atmosphere was further poisoned by Trump’s Middle East adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner who inferred the Palestinians were incapable of governing themselves without Israeli interference.
‘Peace to Prosperity’ economic workshop
Moreover, he put a damper on the upcoming ‘Peace to Prosperity’ economic workshop to be hosted by Bahrain on June 25 and 2 with the words “The Palestinians need to have a fair judicial system, freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions” before they are “investable.” That statement is hardly milk and honey to the ears of potential donors and investors planning to attend the conference.
In any event, the Palestinian National Authority want nothing to do with Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century which they assume, probably rightly, will be heavily weighted in Israel’s favour. Trump cannot afford to do otherwise if he wants to keep his Christian Zionist evangelical base on board when he is running for a second term.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.