TeamTrump Bypasses Palestinian Authority, Appeals Directly To People
Amid an ongoing row between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner appealed directly to the Palestinian people in an interview with the Ramallah-based Al Quds newspaper. “You deserve to have a bright future, now is the time for both the Israelis and Palestinians to strengthen their leaderships…and encourage them to open up towards a solution, and not fear trying,” the U.S. president’s son-in-law was quoted as saying. The interview, headlined, “I am ready to work with [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas, if he wishes,” raised eyebrows given Palestinian officials have for six months abided by a boycott imposed by Abbas on their American counterparts in the wake of Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Accordingly, many analysts believe that Kushner’s interview was an attempt to circumvent the PA by taking President Donald Trump’s message directly to the Palestinian “street.” Moreover, Kushner reiterated that the White House would “soon” unveil its much-anticipated peace plan—which the PA has rejected out-of-hand—adding that the proposal would be released for public consumption unless negotiations are renewed, a potentiality also being construed as a pressure-tactic to compel Abbas to participate in the initiative. Kushner contended that the PA was, instead, maintaining a rejectionist position “because it’s afraid that we are going to publish our peaceful plan that will be liked by the Palestinian people.” Indeed, the PA over the weekend continued its push-back, with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat giving multiple interviews in which he referred to Trump officials as “nothing [less] than spokespeople for the Israeli occupation” whose intent is to “normalize Israeli apartheid.” He also accused the U.S. administration of attempting both to “liquidate the issue of the Palestinian refugees” and to widen the already deep chasm between the PA-administered West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by soliciting hundreds of millions of dollars from Arab states for the purpose of fostering economic growth in the isolated Palestinian enclave. Erekat also accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of directly negotiating with Hamas. For his part, the Israeli leader reportedly told Kushner and American envoy Jason Greenblatt during two separate meetings on Friday and Saturday that Israel was prepared to divert taxes it collects on behalf of the PA to the Gaza Strip. The two U.S. officials arrived in Israel Thursday night for the last leg of a whirlwind regional tour that included stops in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar.