US peace plan dead before arrival

By: Daoud Kuttab

President Donald Trump’s administration is trying extra hard to prepare the ground work for its expected announcement of the US vision for peace in the Middle East, and especially between Israelis and Palestinians. The plan, which I was told by American journalists during my recent visit to Washington, is around 50-60 pages and includes security, economic and political ideas. The plan will be presented, I was told, to all parties to the conflict and they will be given a chance to make their comments on it.

While the Americans have succeeded in keeping the plan totally under wraps, this book can be clearly read by the title of its authors. President Donald Trump, his adviser and son-in-law Jered Kushner, his chief peace representative Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman are all on the record and have acted upon policies that expose their total and unflinching bias towards Israel. What is expected of the so-called ultimate deal or deal of the century will be nothing more than what we have heard from the right-wing elements that have been ruling Israel for some time.

Furthermore, social media, and especially Twitter, are enough to send the wrong messages to anyone remotely curious to know what direction the Americans might have in their so-called peace plan. The Twitter accounts of the top US officials are full of pro-Israeli statements and gush with words of sympathy for Israelis, without any expressions of even sorrow for Palestinians.

Greenblatt, the chief US official working on this plan, has violated almost all the rules of negotiations. Not only do his public pronouncements reveal his own position and fail the number one rule of peace efforts, namely secrecy, but they are also hurtful and vindictive. Greenblatt, like many American Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, haphazardly uses the term anti-Semitism against anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy, however, he has gone even one step further by insulting and attacking Palestinian leaders in a public forum. Greenblatt has also alienated Arabs and Muslims, as well as other peace-loving peoples in his position on Jerusalem. Greenblatt Tweeted on April 2 the following: “Congrats to #Brazil’s president @jairbolsonaro and the Brazilian people on the opening of a trade office in #Jerusalem. We encourage all nations to consider moving their embassies to the capital of the State of Israel.”

A peace envoy is usually careful not to upset the very parties that he or she wants to work with. Greenblatt is calling on “all nations to move their embassies to the capital of the state of Israel” at the very time that he is aware that the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim position is that East Jerusalem is hoped to become the “capital of the state of Palestine”. How can adding salt to the wound help bring any possibly fringe person or country to even take the US position seriously when this kind of blatantly anti-Palestinian and anti-Islamic policy is being published on a public forum. Previous US officials might have had similar thoughts, but they were careful not to express them. This brings us to question whether there is a strategy of some kind behind these public outbursts of anti-Palestinian rhetoric.

One idea might be that the Tweets are aimed at pleasing a certain segment of the pro-Trump base of Christian Zionists, who are supporting Israel for totally disingenuous reasons; i.e. so that they can be gathered in Palestine/Israel for the eventual battle of Armageddon.

Another possible reason can be gleaned from the writings of Islamophobic American Jewish writer Daniel Pipes, who argues that Israel won and Arabs lost, and that Palestinians and Arabs must admit defeat and surrender to the winners. This argument might explain the utter disdain and lack of any interest in showing a single iota of sympathy or understanding of Palestinian needs, aspirations and hopes.

Whatever the reason is, the public pronouncements of chief US officials do little to contribute to creating an atmosphere that will allow for anything but a total and complete rejection of the upcoming US peace plan. Trump’s ultimate deal has been dead even before arrival due, in part, to the total and unashamed bias towards the very side that is illegally occupying and pillaging Palestinian territory.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net