The Ultimate Deal is not meant to work

Two women hold up a sign reading "USA stop undermining peace" in English and Hebrew

Israelis hold signs at a protest against an event organized by the right-wing settler organization Elad, in the “City of David,” located in the Palestinian village of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem on 30 June. US Ambassador David Friedman and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt attended the event. 

Debbie Hill UPI

Well, thank the powers that be that that’s over.

The Manama Peace to Prosperity conference promised little and delivered nothing. There was some shouting and posturing, but overall the performance fizzled.

It was not, however, merely a botched exercise in futility.

It was a show of unadulterated cynicism.

Even the messianic glint in Jared Kushner’s eyes cannot mask the fact that none of the US peace trifecta that the White House has deployed to deprive Palestinians of their rights really believes this shambles could have any traction whatsoever.

It was never meant to. This Ultimate Deal™ has nothing to do with diplomacy. It certainly has nothing to do with peace, if by peace is meant some kind of equitable and just future for Palestinians and Israelis.

This is a quite transparent attempt at ending the Palestinian struggle on Israel’s terms, pushing Israeli maximalist fantasies onto Palestinians.

It is best illustrated by the words and actions of its principal actors.

Here’s “Special Representative for International Negotiations” Jason Greenblatt.

Greenblatt doesn’t “find anything to criticize” Israel for. Not its ongoing and accelerating settlement project, not its blatant transgressions of international law, not its shoot-to-kill policy against unarmed protesters, not its home demolitions, imprisonment of minors or racial discrimination.


The Palestinians, on the other hand – who need Israeli permission to get from one town to the next, to travel, to build extensions to their houses, to marry who they want, to stay on land they already live on – they are fair game.

You see, “one is action.” No, not that one. The Palestinians, according to Greenblatt, are taking action to “prevent peace from happening.”

’Hysterical and stupid’

What about Jared Kushner? The president’s crown prince and special envoy, who is trying to sell his Ultimate Deal™ to the very Palestinians his colleague is so disparaging about, must have been working a little more diligently on his pitch.


Palestinians have been “hysterical and stupid” for boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner told Israeli reporters and Arab leaders after a Bahrain show that some reviewers were struggling to describe as anything other than “weird.”

Never mind. Kushner, a seasoned diplomat, also held out an olive branch.

“The door is always open” to Palestinians, he said, provided they stopped saying “crazy things.”

Presumably he was referring to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas’ comments that to engage the Trump administration the Palestinians wanted a US commitment to a two-state solution that would see East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

Optimistic, perhaps. But this was US policy until the current administration waded in. Crazy indeed.

Perhaps US ambassador to Israel David Friedman had some more conventional diplomatic tropes to toss out?


Barefaced lie

The Trump administration’s peace diplomacy is simply a lie. US mediation today amounts to nothing more than a playground taunt, a pushing-your-face-in-the-mud kind of bullying.

It is the height of arrogance, the kind one can only hope will turn out to be gloriously hubristic.

US diplomats badger Palestinians for not engaging, having left them two options: either agree to Israel settling and annexing most of the rest of the West Bank in return for limited self-rule and some spare change; or just watch it happen.

Kushner has already said it. While the political part of the Ultimate Deal™ is yet to be published, Palestinians can expect something “between the Arab peace initiative and between the Israeli position.”

The Arab Peace Initiative – proposed in 2002 by America’s great ally, Saudi Arabia – is a compromise of a compromise, while Israel’s plan from the beginning was to deny Palestinians sovereignty and anything other than what they already have limited control over.

Whether that political part is meant to be implemented before or after the economic part already published is neither here nor there.

It’s a nonstarter.

As Washington’s tireless threesome already know.




What seems to be missing is what should be a chorus of progressives deriding what has to be the most blatantly anti-democratic, neo-liberal, free-market capitalist fantasy ever devised. Where are they and their indefatigable stand for pure democracy? Without vocal opposition to this charade, it just goes down as another great opportunity let go by, by inept Arab leadership and another excuse to fill in the void with settlements.
Of course media coverage has been so scant that missing the issue is excusable. And oh! never mind, it'll get more coverage later when it's being used to rationalize more slow genocide.


I don't agree with Walt's tweet that Kushner was just being a manipulative agent in a plot he wasn't invested in. I think people like Kushner usually believe wholeheartedly in their conceptions and solutions. They just don't believe that the little people are best served through empowerment, whether it's political enfranchisement or economic because they really don't believe they know what to do with either.
The conspiratorial view expressed in Walt's tweet is typical of the siloed, immature Left and I'm a little surprised to hear it from him. Because it misunderestimates the motives on the Right, it misses avenues to more effectively confront it.


Stephen Walt was exactly correct.
On the Israel/Palestine conflict: “We must define our position and lay down basic principles for a settlement. Our demands should be moderate and balanced, and appear to be reasonable. But in fact they must involve such conditions as to ensure that the enemy rejects them. Then we should manoeuvre and allow him to define his own position, and reject a settlement on the basis of a compromise position. We should then publish his demands as embodying unreasonable extremism”. – General Yehoshafat Harkabi, Former Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence


I answered your rebuttal Rob but posting is sooo slow and you hit my point so on the head I want to make sure you get it.
At some point in his campaign Trump stated that his method of resolving "the question" would be to show Palestinians and the Arab world, that the US is a fair broker. He had it right; the US has to be on both sides. You remember this. Then he attended an AIPAC ritual and made an abrupt about face and has become the deliverer or the Israeli Right. So what motivated him, Yehoshafat? No, what’s best for Trump did. You know that.
If the US press, which was desperate to counter Trumps anti-media campaign had had any compulsion at all to call him to task on that, or Congressional Dems, there was a limitless horizon for debate and an easy counter to the damaging policies that ensued. But they didn’t follow up for reasons we all know but had they; this might already be a different world.
But they didn’t follow his motives where they led; they ignored them and just followed his lead.
This isn’t good detective work and we don’t catch the thief. I’m not saying Kushners case is the same at all, just what I said, which you didn’t seem to think had any merit.
Please re-read my first comment and don’t worry, I can handle rejection, especially from lockstep radicals. Which you may not be, I hope.


We three are all correct and not really in disagreement. Walt says the deal is not designed to work. It isn't, hence my quotation of the Israel plot to appear rational but really be the opposite in order to move the taking of Palestinian land and lives until "Greater Israel" is reached. The goal has been thus since the British gave Palestine to the Jews for their "homeland" in 1948. It's never changed. As for Kushner, if he is sincere as you may propose, take a close look at him; his sincerity or otherwise is irrelevant...his ultimate goal is to do as AIPAC wants. Notice "Palestine" and "Palestinians" are not mentioned in any deal the Israelis approve. Nor are those terms used in rightwing Israeli media. Correct me if I misunderstood, but do you really think there are two sides of the "question?" That usually implies two equal sides. That's far afield of reality There is one side with all the power and one side with no power at all. That's why every time the Israelis, with the US, offer a "solution," they offer one that Palestinians can't possible agree to; then the Israelis scream that the "Arabs" are unreasonable. There's no such thing as democracy in Israel. They claim to be the only democracy in the middle east, but the only democracy in the middle east was Turkey until recent events devolved and changed that. The US and Israel are the two most fear and harmful countries on earth and that's not going to change in the near future.

Now I'm going to try to post this....never know if I'm supposed to hit "preview" or "send."


Rob, I so value EI that I’m hesitant to take arguments too far into the weeds or task a comrade’s patience but even though I may seem to be trying to over- intellectualize an insignificant distinction, I’m really trying to convey how it’s far from insignificant.
Walt didn’t say “the deal is not designed to work”, he said “It wasn't supposed to work”. The distinction is about intent, yes but it’s also about these ersatz leaders and what drives them. Let me please acknowledge all you said about US/Israeli machinations. Of course and it’s driving us out of our minds right? But simply dismissing the BIG DEAL as another rung on the ladder to a Greater Israel is just setting up a barricade in a blind alley. If, on the other hand, we take Kushner at his word and further, Trump along with him, we see Trump leaving his son-in-law twisting in the wind with a boondoggle - which the not as dumb as he looks Donald knew to be the case some months ago, maybe longer but he decided it better to follow through than give up, as long as he wasn’t left holding the bag – and we see them dealing with the Palestinians as an instant 2nd class consumer, debtor nonentity or indentured servants if you will, which is not very far off from their present status but with a good empire seal of approval.
It’s so wrong on its face that it’s a yuge insult to all of Islam, which the US and its allies pretend not to be at war with, even though they bomb the carap out of them at every turn, while they support the dictatorial regimes that have stifled their emergence into the global mainstream for almost a hundred years.


It’s so wrong on its face that it’s a yuge insult to all of Islam, which the US and its allies pretend not to be at war with, even though they bomb the carap out of them at every turn, while they support the dictatorial regimes that have stifled their emergence into the global mainstream for almost a hundred years.
Calling it just another step for settler colonialism falls far short of revealing it for what it really is and that’s another step toward another “ownership society’s” victory in the war on the poor.
The poor by the way constitute a majority of human beings, some of whom reside near Israel, which is very interested in limiting their ability to overcome their own oppression and that of the Palestinians.
My point is that it’s better to follow a trail where it leads (declarations of intent) than take a short cut (presuppositions) if you’ve never been down the road and don’t know all the answers. I don’t, do you?
And please! Don’t think Walt necessarily does either. Two heads are better than one you know.

Omar Karmi

Omar Karmi is an independent journalist and former Jerusalem and Washington, DC, correspondent for The National newspaper.