By Richard Walker
The most effective way to kill a peace plan being hailed as the “deal of the century” is to tell the leaders of one side that they are hysterical and stupid. That is exactly what President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, told Palestinian leaders before they rejected his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that gave his family friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, everything he wanted, in particular more Palestinian land, and almost total control of Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.
Kushner was handed the task of solving the Palestinian-Israeli impasse while he was also in charge of the opioids crisis, building the wall on the U.S. southern border, and managing a host of other major Trump administration issues.
After announcing the release of his plan on Jan. 28, Kushner boasted to news outlets that he had read 25 books on the Middle East crisis, giving the impression that he was a dutiful student.
Kushner’s “deal of the century” was unveiled by Trump, who said it was the greatest peace deal in modern history. Netanyahu described it as a great result for Israel that will be remembered decades from now.
Essentially, it gave Israel more Palestinian land, did not address illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, refused the right of return to Palestinians throughout the region, and handed most of Jerusalem to Israel. It guaranteed Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and ignored the question of a two-state solution.
Before it was made public, it was rejected by Palestinians. They knew that it was being drawn up by a pro-Israel group with Kushner as its leader and Netanyahu as his closest adviser. It also included Israeli businessmen with close links to the Israeli settlers’ movement. The team formed close links with Egypt and with Kushner’s associate, Saudi leader Mohammed Bin Salman.
Kushner tackled the problem in the same way he and his father handled their property business over the years. He argued that the Palestinians would benefit from a $50 billion aid package and talked about building hotels and businesses on Palestinian land. He also warned that Palestinians might “screw it up” the way they have screwed up all plans throughout their history. That was interpreted as him goading them to dismiss his plan.
Aaron David Miller, who was an adviser to previous U.S. administrations, remarked that Kushner saw himself as the Frank Sinatra of the peace process. He says that he told him so, and he warned him that his approach could make matters worse. Miller interpreted the plan as having no relevance to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He felt that it had more to do with bolstering Netanyahu, who was recently indicted on corruption charges, and thereby benefiting Trump’s
re-election campaign, because it would guarantee him the support of evangelicals in the United States.
Kushner told news outlets that Israel’s growth was now unstoppable. Some saw it as a signal to Netanyahu that he had U.S. approval to fulfill his promise to Israelis to annex more Palestinian land.
As Vanity Fair put it, Kushner’s plan was the Monty Python sketch of Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives. From the outset, his motive was to help Israel and showed nothing but disdain for Palestinians. His objective was to give Israel what it wanted while laying down the law to Palestinians that if they turned down his offer, so be it. Some commentators interpreted his attitude to Palestinians as condescending.
His plan had the seeds of failure at its birth when Trump, under pressure from some of his big Zionist donors like casino owner Sheldon Adelson, moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Another central reason the deal was doomed was that its origin was rooted in the fact that the entire Kushner team was led by Zionists who included the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
One unintended consequence of the plan is to finally kill off a two-state solution, yet Trump predicted that, while Palestinians did not like his plan, it would grow on them over time—even though Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called it “the smack of the century.”
The plan even insists that Palestinians are now on probation and must prove in coming years that they are deserving of a state.
In that time, Netanyahu, or whoever succeeds him, will have seized more Palestinian lands, leaving little to form a state.
Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former New York mainstream news producer who grew tired of seeing his articles censored by his bosses.