The elusive saga of ‘Peace to Prosperity’

Jul 09,2019 -JORDAN TIMES –
Hasan Abu Nimah

The “Peace to Prosperity” conference that convened during the last week of June in Manama, the capital city of Bahrain, ended without leaving a trace of memorable impact, despite the intensive preparations, lavish promises and fanfare. This is not difficult to comprehend, as the entire project was not real. It was no more than an improvised attempt to salvage the so-called “deal of the century”.

The Bahrain enterprise was devised as bait to entice the Palestinians to reconsider their rejection of Jared Kushner’s plan, designed to tempt the Palestinians to forego their political rights, to end a century-old struggle for independence and statehood and to liberate themselves and their land from a seven-decade-old occupation in exchange for improving their living conditions.

Simultaneously, the Bahrain plan was also meant to allure the neighbouring Arab countries, particularly those which host Palestinian refugees, to buy into the plan and agree to provide permanent residence status to the Palestinians in order for them to drop their rightful claim of returning to their original homeland in Palestine. They would also be rewarded with development projects and cash.
The plan was seriously flawed.

As bait, it was hardly smart. A smart fisherman would attach a nice piece of meat, or fish-attracting food, to a hook. The hook that will be hidden inside the bait would then be dropped in the water from the fishing rod so that the fish would be fatally hooked when it jumps to retrieve and swallow the food. The idea of baiting is to deceive the fish into believing the food is not trapped.

But unlike successful fishermen’s methods, the approach of Kushner and his team to the Palestinians, and, indeed, to their Arab neighbours, has been so blatantly exposed, where every move was sending unlimited warnings to the Palestinians to be extremely cautious of a poisoned bait on its way to them, and, indeed, they have been.

The “deal of the century” consists of two parts: political and economic. The political aspect was meant to come first so that peace would precede economic development; hence the dramatic title “Peace to Prosperity”. But early revelations of details of the political part, in fact the US-sponsored implementation measures concerning Jerusalem, UNRWA, the Golan Heights, the promised annexation of parts of the West Bank and punitive economic measures against the Palestinians, had made it impossible for Kushner and his team to proceed with their counterproductive tactics. Not just the Palestinians, but also most other world powers were sceptical of a plan that left nothing, absolutely nothing for the Palestinians, nothing of their internationally and historically recognised rights.

As a result, the declaration of the deal was repeatedly postponed with one excuse or another during the past 30 months.

Kushner finally came up with the idea of reversing the order. By introducing the economic part in the Bahrain meeting, he hoped the promise of $50 billion and a tall list of projects over a period of 10 years may change the Palestinian mood. It did not. Neither have the Palestinians, nor the other concerned Arab parties, shown any sign of approval, insisting instead on the fulfilment of Palestinians’ rights first.

The show ended as it began, with no impact. Even Kushner had to admit the Bahrain gathering was a failure, though blaming the Palestinian absence for it. The promise was unreal; it was clearly recognised, even by those who took the trouble to attend, as unreal; there was no money, no visible funders and many of the planned projects were recycled from past failed attempts. Not only that, but Kushner made it very clear in his Bahrain introductory speech that development would follow peace, not the other way round; meaning that the Palestinians and the Arab states would have to agree to the political terms of “the deal of the century” — terrible, impractical and immoral as they are — before they qualify for the imaginary prize money, if that would ever materialise. This was a classical exercise in futility. I honestly cannot conceive how the promised declaration of the “deal of the century” can happen later this year under the existing conditions.


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