Another sterile peace mission

Aug 29,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Hasan Abu Nimah

As many feared, the US team led by the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner ended its effort to resuscitate the moribund Palestinian-Israeli peace process without any tangible result.

And yet, neither of the two directly concerned sides nor the Arab capitals that the Americans visited while en route to Jerusalem and Ramallah, seem greatly disturbed by the sterile outcome.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no reason to worry. The mediators are totally on his side. 

During an earlier visit, in June, Kushner only conveyed to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas the exact messages he had been given by Netanyahu.

Besides expressing anger and obvious disappointment, Abbas, according to his top adviser Ahmad Majdalani, requested clarification on two key issues: Washington’s position on the settlements and its support for Palestinian independence.

Not only have both matters been totally ignored, but the Trump administration seems to be gradually distancing itself from the main peace formula upon which the Palestinians and the so-called international community have been pinning their hopes for years.

When Netanyahu visited the White House in February, Trump surprised many by saying: “I am looking at two-state or one-state, and I like the one the both parties like.”

Nikky Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, then rushed to correct what many thought was not a deliberate statement of policy, but one of the president’s usual wild statements.

“First of all, the two-state solution is what we support,” Haley insisted. 

“Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution — that would be an error. We absolutely support the two-state solution.”

But that seems now to be outdated. Last week, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert refused to explicitly endorse the two-state solution.

“We are not going to state what the outcome has to be,” Nauert said.

“It has to be workable to both sides. That’s the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it.”

Under the present circumstances, this sudden American discovery of the need to be even-handed is entirely to the benefit of Israel.

Kushner’s visit has only reassured Tel Aviv that the Trump administration is totally on its side. Not one of the unpleasant issues for the Israelis was ever raised — not settlements, not home demolitions, not Jerusalem and not the siege of Gaza.

It is a win-win situation for Netanyahu. If Abbas agrees to resume talks while settlement construction continues apace, Israel would be very happy with that.

Talks that managed to last for 20 years without coming to any results can easily continue indefinitely without interrupting Israel’s colonisation plans. In fact, resumed talks would be useful, providing convenient cover.

If, on the other hand, Abbas continues to decline offers to renew the stalled talks, that would also work perfectly for Israel.

Israel will continue to claim that its hand is stretched in peace, while the stubborn Palestinians cross their arms and sulk.

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Categories: America, Israel, Palestine, UK, United States, USA

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