Peace for prosperity: Kushner gets ready to party

Four standing men applaud another man sat at a desk holding up a piece of paper.

US President Donald Trump shows an order he just signed recognizing Syria’s Golan Heights as Israeli territory. Benjamin Netanyahu applauds. Jared Kushner applauds. David Friedman and Mike Pompeo applaud.

Michael Reynolds Consolidated

It looks like we may finally get a peek behind the frilly curtain that has so far been drawn across Washington’s Ultimate Deal™.

Even Avigdor Lieberman scuppering Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition plans has not put a spanner in the works.

A second Israeli election this year – the first set back one Ultimate Deal unveiling – is not expected to derail Jared Kushner’s pet project this time.

The economic part of the Ultimate Deal™ will be revealed towards the end of June when a “Peace for Prosperity” conference gets underway in Bahrain.

The political part? Well, no one seems sure when that will be unveiled or if there even is a political part.

Rumors abound, of course.

Some suggest the Ultimate Political Deal will propose a Gaza expanded into the Egyptian Sinai, in an area that will remain under Egyptian control, with some areas of the West Bank under Palestinian self-rule while Israel retains control over Jerusalem, borders, airspace and its settlements.

Which is different from the situation right now because…

er…

…Sorry. No, it’s not different at all.

But that’s exactly why we have “peace for prosperity.” That’s why US diplomacy now refers only to financial incentives and not to any political “talking points.”

Ignore the situation on the ground, which will be exactly the same. Instead collect and pay out tens of billions of dollars, so that the Palestinians, who will still live under occupation and without equality or rights, might have some pocket money left once the neighbors are paid off.

Hooray! It’s a brilliant plan.

Moral high ground

Global financial organizations plan to partake in the Bahrain conference, planned for 25-26 June.

And apart from Kuwait – so far, anyway – all brotherly Arab Gulf countries, who may expect to foot the bill of this grand scheme, have also decided to attend the conference.

They are doing so even though the Palestinians are staying away in protest, having decided long ago that dealing with this US administration is a waste of time. The PLO leadership says the Ultimate Deal™ will spell the end of the two-state solution or indeed any Palestinian aspirations to some kind of justice.

The facts so far seem to speak for themselves. The US administration under Donald Trump has closed the PLO mission in Washington, ended funding to the Palestinian Authority, ended funding of UNRWA, the UN body that cares for Palestinian refugees, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognized Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights, setting a precedent for Palestinian territory.

Refusing also to take any of the tax monies Israel collects on the PA’s behalf, since Israel is unilaterally deducting money it says goes to “support terrorism,” the PLO leadership has in fact seized the moral high ground.

It would be hard not seize the moral high ground in these circumstances, of course, unless the leadership decided to do something silly like give ministers some oddly timed backdated 67 percent pay rise for no apparent reason.

That would just be poor taste, considering how most Palestinains struggle along in poverty and underemployment.

Absence makes the heart grow

With the Palestinians staying away and Israel rudderless until a new election in September, it might have seemed prudent to postpone the Bahrain conference.

Luckily, prudence is not in Jared Kushner’s vocabulary. This man is goal oriented. What matters is results. Everything else is for babies.

Trust? Pah!

Kushner is a real mediator, who doesn’t need the sides to trust him.

Kushner doesn’t need the Palestinian leadership OR people to trust him, either.

The people will judge on results, on “the facts.” Jerusalem, refugees, freedom from occupation and oppression? Not those facts. Other facts. Like “modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus.”

Nike in Nablus. McDonalds in Jenin. You know, progress.

To prove he is a real mediator, Kushner will heavily favor one side and completely dismiss the other side’s century-long struggle for independence, equality and freedom as a “grandfather’s conflict.”

The Palestinian people, pace Kushner, “want a better life,” yes, but not one that includes governing themselves.

For that, Palestinians are just not ready.

“The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing.”

Thanks, Jared. What a guy.

Full confidence

Kushner has the full confidence not only of the Palestinian people, but also of his own colleagues.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, even went so far as to say Kushner’s plan might be “unexecutable.”

There’s a ringing endorsement.

Lest anyone thought he was anything but unflinchingly behind the Ultimate Deal™, Pompeo added: “It may be rejected.”

He also said it might not “gain traction.”

Ah jealous colleagues, sitting on the fence. We all have them.

At least Kushner’s family is firmly behind him, right? Especially the important one, Kushner’s father-in-law, the US president.

Certainly, when given the chance to put his secretary of state in his place, Trump was unequivocal. Pompeo, he said, “may be right.”

Oh.

Is there no one who supports Kushner’s effort to put the economic cart before the political horse?

The EU always seems partial to pouring bank notes on fires. Surely the Europeans can appreciate the wisdom of this kind of diplomacy?

“The economic development of the whole region is crucial,” the EU said in a statement after officials were briefed on Kushner’s ideas. See, the good old EU.

But wait, what’s that, more talk?

“It must be accompanied by a viable political solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis and the agreed international parameters.”

Oh dear.

Kushner will have his party in Bahrain. But it will be without the main protagonist in this drama.

And why the guests – expected to foot a bill that could run to the tens of billions of dollars – are going is the true conundrum.

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the deal is worse, than what South African. ant apartheid activists got.

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Omar Karmi

Omar Karmi is an associate editor for The Electronic Intifada and former Jerusalem and Washington, DC, correspondent for The National newspaper.