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Latest about Kushner’s peace project

Mar 05,2019 - Last updated at Mar 05,2019

In his capacity as head of the US peace team in charge of the so-called “deal of the century”, Jared Kushner visited the Gulf region and Turkey last week. Obviously, the visit was part of an ongoing effort to market the project. Earlier, he was in Warsaw for the Polish US-sponsored Middle East summit, also to address issues relating to the Middle East situation.

According to numerous news reports, the Kushner Gulf tour was meant to elaborate on the economic side of the plan: promising billions of dollars for economic development in the Palestinian areas, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in the neighbouring Arab countries, particularly Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. The idea of an “economic peace” as an alternative to the real peace, which Israel has been blocking for decades, is by no means new. What is on offer now is no more than a recycled version of many previous failed peace plans, in which the proposal of economic peace was heavily exhausted.

No official text of the new American peace deal has been officially disclosed. Announcements have been repeatedly delayed. The latest publishing date is set for early April, following the conclusion of the Israeli general elections. However, this does not mean that the main features of the plan remain unknown; some major parts have already been implemented.

According to US President Donald Trump’s own affirmation, Jerusalem was dropped from the final status issues list, simply by handing it to Israel without any regard for the relevant international law provisions and inalienable Palestinian rights as recognised by dozens of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.

Attempts to drop another major final status issue, the issue of the Palestinian refugees and their inalienable right to return to their homes, from which they were forcefully and illegally ethnically cleansed seven decades ago, are actively underway. The idea here is to drive UNRWA out of business by draining its financial resources, while transferring its duties towards the Palestinian refugees to the Arab host countries, namely Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and even Gaza, of which more than 80 per cent of the population are originally refugees from other parts of occupied Palestine.

The Jewish National State Law, passed by the Knesset in the summer of 2018, can only be seen as part of Israel’s effort to declare Palestine as the land of the Jewish people exclusively, thus eliminating the possibility of Palestinian statehood on any part of Palestine, any time now or in the future. There goes the two-state solution.

During his recent Gulf tour, Kushner spoke vaguely about dealing with the border issue, another important final status issue, but he was not referring to the territorial border defining the limits of the envisaged Palestinian state as one might have thought. He later specified in statements made to an Arab TV station that he only meant to remove the borders; this can clearly confirm Israel’s view that the Palestinians in Palestine, whether in the West Bank, in Jerusalem or in Israel, would be dealt with as a foreign community even if granted some kind of autonomous rule.

Many Arab press reports reacted to Kushner’s recent visit as an attempt to bribe the concerned parties, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank included, with lavish promises of economic benefits in return for foregoing their basic rights. The idea, originally and purely Israeli, is to shelve any talk about a political settlement or about ending the occupation, in favour of engaging the region with economic projects and improving the quality of life. In other words, improving the life of illegally-held prisoners, rather than setting them free.

As previously mentioned, this has been attempted before without any measure of success. It is quite naive to imagine that the Palestinians, after more than seven decades of destitution and suffering, would succumb to such short-sighted offers: exchanging their national rights, land, dignity, history and future for a promise, just a promise, of improving their life under permanent occupation and continued oppression.

Even worse is the Kushner plan’s endeavour to have Arab money finance his futile economic peace. 

Reports mentioned a $65-billion budget, of which the US would contribute a portion, while the rest would have to be paid by states in the region. This may explain the choice of countries visited during Kushner’s latest tour, except in the case of Turkey, which was included in the programme at a later stage.

If anything, such attempts reflect very poor understanding of the nature of the century-old conflict, if not sheer negligence of the dynamic imperative of the region’s realities.

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