Kushner Could Be Coming for Nothing
The architect of the latest US Middle East peace drive is seeking to ‘build on’ a recent conference, but some analysists think he’ll only be treading water
US President Donald Trump’s Mideast team is headed to the region next week for another visit to promote the administration’s controversial plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The team will be led by President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and include lead negotiator Jason Greenblatt as well as Brian Hook, the White House’s point man on Iranian affairs.
A White House official told The Media Line: “The visit will build on the understandings of the Bahrain economic workshop, and start the process of finalizing the plan.” The official asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. But it appears the plan has not resonated at all with the Palestinian side. Based upon numerous interviews, the Americans have been unable to alter the perception of pro-Israel bias too great to be considered “honest brokers.”
Kushner and his team will be touching down in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The trip will come around a month after a US-led economic conference in Manama, Bahrain, that promised the Palestinians and other Arab states $50 billion in investments, loans and mega-financial projects.
Kushner, the plan’s main engineer, is looking to garner support for his proposal with the visit.
Hani Abu Aker, a political analyst who contributes to numerous regional journals, told The Media Line from Gaza City that the Bahrain workshop failed to yield the results Kushner was hoping for, and the upcoming visit could be an attempt to keep whatever momentum the presidential adviser thinks he has going.
“I believe the purpose of Kushner’s visit is to continue contact with Israel and other key regional governments regarding the economic plan, and to discuss ways to collect money for it,” Aker said, adding that the US administration is desperate to show that its plan is succeeding and has gained international acceptance.
“Kushner will work to raise more money from the Gulf states, which will show that they are committed to his vision,” he stated.
The Palestinians boycotted the Bahrain conference and harshly criticized President Trump’s approach to the conflict, saying that achieving a final resolution to the conflict must first come through addressing the political track.
Fatah leader Rafaat Elyan told The Media Line that the US administration had no credibility and was “incapable” of conducting any mediations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
“The American administration,” Elyan said, “is trying to please [Israeli Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu and give him what he wants at any price.”
Defense and government analyst Amir Oren, formerly of the Israeli daily Haaretz, told The Media Line that the White House was in a bind and trying to show that the plan was headed in the right direction.
“Nothing is expected to come out of this mission, as [with] all others in this futile effort,” Oren said. ‘The only purpose is to show motion – even if without movement – and score political points with Donald Trump’s Evangelical base.”
At the end of 2017, President Trump took a major, yet controversial, step of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, later moving the US embassy to the holy city. These steps pleased Netanyahu and infuriated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
With the Palestinians now choosing not to communicate with Washington, and Israel busy with a repeat parliamentary election in September, many say the so-called deal of the century might not see the light of day.