President Trump and Jared Kushner have actually made some progress towards achieving a Mideast peace agreement between Israel and the PLO. The progress mainly consists of shifting the entire context around. I still ultimately doubt it will be successful as long as The PLO/Fatah and Hamas are involved, but just doing that much is significant achievement..and it may just actually yield some results.
If you’ve been following the latest developments in the Mideast peace process, you know that Jared Kushner just met again yesterday with the Palestinian Authority’s leader Mahmoud Abbas. Unlike their last meeting, when Kushner insisted that the PA had to give up inciting and financing terrorist attacks on Israel, this one didn’t end in a shouting match between them.
Abbas and the other PA functionaries made polite noises this time.
“We highly appreciate President Trump’s efforts to strike a historical peace deal, a statement he repeated more than one time during our meetings in Washington, Riyadh and Bethlehem,” Abbas said at the start of his meeting with Kushner, according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.
“We know that this delegation is working for peace, and we are working with it to achieve what President Trump has called a peace deal. We know that things are difficult and complicated, but there is nothing impossible with good efforts,” he added.
Well, except for this. The Palestinians, as they wish to be called are very frustrated by one thing.
When it comes to the peace process, they’re used to being catered to, and being offered what they demand while giving little or nothing in return as concessions. They’re also used to it being a fait accompli, an established fact that there is going to be a two state solution that gives them all or most of Judea and Samaria with their capitol in Jerusalem.
The Trump administration has backed away from guaranteeing that no matter what, an important shift in the context.
“We have clearly emphasized to the Americans the importance of having a public statement that has a commitment to the two-state solution,” Ashraf Khatib, a spokesman for the negotiation affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told the Washington Post on Friday. “There hasn’t been any.”
Nor will there be for now, as State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained earlier this week. The always unworkable two state solution has been sidelined for now and won’t be automatically put back on the table without significant concessions by the PLO. Or as Ms. Nauert politely put it, “Committing to a two-state solution would “bias” the outcome of a peace agreement between Israel and the PA.”
“We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and that both sides find sustainable. We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them.”
“We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it. It’s been many, many decades, as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work that through.”
Or to put it more bluntly, President Trump isn’t going to make Israel ‘negotiate’ with a loaded gun to its head and a preconceived outcome.
For perhaps the first time in the history of the Mideast peace process, the PLO is being told that if they want a state, they’re going to have to convince the Israelis to go along with it. That’s going to mean significant concessions. And even then, it might not mean statehood. it might just end up being an autonomous enclave.
This is a major change. Obstruction and stonewalling by Abbas and company is not going to work any longer. They will have to deal to get what they want.
At a time when the only Arab leader who seems to have any time for ‘Palestine’ is Jordan’s King Abdullah and most of the Sunni states are far more concerned with putting together a coalition against Iran that will of necessity include Israel, Mahmoud Abbas and ‘Palestine’ aren’t even attracting rhetoric, let alone cash. The Arab states have slashed the aid they were giving the PA by 50%, and bi-partisan legislation is already moving forward in the US to severely limit aid to the PA because of their financing of terrorism.
Will being squeezed and marginalized give the Palestinians an incentive to actually bargain in good faith for once and come up with a reasonable proposal for Israel to mull over? I’d say no, but I’d be happy to be pleasantly surprised.
As President trump once said, the biggest asset in making a deal is the willingness to walk away. Applied to the Mideast peace process, it just might work.
Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com and other publications.
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