The US administration’s peace team, led by Jewish colony funders Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, has recently held meetings with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar hoping to pave the way for the implementation of President Trump’s mysterious peace plan.
The details are still being kept from public scrutiny. The overall framework has received no input from Palestinian National Authority (PNA) negotiators who turned their backs on US mediation in response to the US Embassy’s relocation to occupied Jerusalem as well as America’s hostile stances towards the Palestinian people in the UN Security Council (UNSC). Whereas all UNSC members denounced Israel’s killing of 59 Palestinian protesters shot dead on the soil of Gaza last month, Ambassador Nikki Haley cut a lonely figure with her ridiculous praise of Israel’s “restraint”.
Indeed the Palestinian leadership would have to be mad to place its faith in a US government that has proved to be slavish to Israel’s interests over and over again without a scrap of compassion for the caged residents of the Gaza Strip or the 350 Palestinian children confined in Israeli prisons.
Early this year, the United States cut its funding for the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees by 50 per cent jeopardising the health care and education of millions living in camps. Just last week, the US announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, described by Haley as “a cesspool of political bias” displaying “a disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel”.
So it is no wonder that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspects something untoward is being cooked up when Kushner and his colleagues are engaged in drumming up donations from Arab states to improve Gaza’s economic prospects and have apparently convinced Israel to provide the Strip with a portion of the tax revenues it collects on the PNA’s behalf.
In fact, the PNA isn’t falling for America’s sudden change of heart ostensibly on compassionate grounds. On the contrary, they believe leaked information suggesting that the US is laying the groundwork to declare Gaza an independent mini-state cut off from Palestinian territories on the West Bank, one reliant on energy generated within Egypt’s northern Sinai as well as access to an Egyptian port and perhaps an airport. Most Egyptians would consider this a slippery slope. It’s worth underscoring the fact that American administrations have long been eyeing a part of northern Sinai to join up with overcrowded Gaza; an idea to which both Palestinians and Egyptians have always been firmly opposed with one exception. It is widely believed within Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood’s short-lived president Mohammad Mursi colluded with President Barack Obama on a 2008 proposal along those lines made by the former head of Israel’s Security Council Giora Eiland in 2008.
Veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has expressed his concerns in no uncertain terms. He alleges the US is attempting to bring down the Palestinian National Authority and destroy UNWRA’s support for Palestinian refugees.
President Abbas is actively promoting the slogan “There’s no state in Gaza and there’s no state without Gaza” and says he will not accept anything less than a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with [occupied] Jerusalem as its capital. In the meantime he is counting on Palestine’s Arab allies to block any deal that would officially separate the Palestinian people for all time. For his part Kushner is highly indignant — or rather pretends to be — tweeting, “Hamas and the PA [PNA], who have been fighting one another for over a decade, are each cynically claiming that the US is trying to divide Gaza and the West Bank instead of acknowledging that we are trying to help the Palestinians in Gaza.”
Sorry Jared but that just doesn’t ring true. The creation of a postage stamp sized state called Gaza would be a dream come true for Netanyahu. Israel’s status as a Jewish state would no longer be threatened by demographics. Almost two million souls being removed from population stats would mean an end to Jewish fears of being outnumbered for the foreseeable future. President Abbas should stick to his guns. Chances are that this so called Deal of the Century is nothing other than a con designed to serve Israel’s interests.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.