Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Trump came out with his Middle East peace plan. Like most of his endeavors the plan is more about himself first, and money in second place, than about solving the problem. Netanyahu gets what he wants and the Palestinians receive pocket money for giving up on their historical claims. 

True, previous plans were dead on arrival because they sank under the weight of contradictory aims: trying to meet Palestinian grievances and guaranteeing Israel's security. Diplomats who are familiar with previous negotiations know all too well the outline of the former two-states solution. The Trump plan breaks with the past, preempting any more balanced move regarding Jerusalem or the settlements in the West Bank. This latest attempt had ghostwriters who can be found in the ultra-right and evangelical fringes, close to the Trump "dynasty". The historic American move regarding Jerusalem was already premature at the least. So, the current proposal only follows suit. Nevertheless, it shouldn't be condemned out of spite. It must be amended if at all possible, in a more just and comprehensive way. In its current form it suffers many shortcomings, in the first instance, the lack of empathy with Palestinian demands. Anyone who is familiar with the Palestinian psyche knows the part emotion plays in their aspiration. Jarred Kushner might not be the ideal peace- maker for this time after all. Many of his predecessors were equally unsuccessful, unable to translate their superlative know-how into real terms, but they were trusted by both sides.

It is not an accident that the plan was outed during the sordid impeachment trial. Trump needed to deflect and distract from the proceedings in general and from the John Bolton revelations in particular. That America is taking a further turn for the worse is for all to see. Foreign policy is no longer linked to a strategic ambition. It is the projection of this president's ulterior selfish motive. 

The decried Oslo spirit created a luke peace dividend for Israel, Jordan and Egypt. The Mena process safeguarded the strategic oil and natural gas riches from being taken hostage again as was the case during the Carter administration. The Palestinians benefited for awhile from mostly EU support (i.a. harbor, airport) before being thrown under the bus by most of their Arab brethren. Hamas in Gaza equals inviting the arsonist to the brush fire.

Obviously the Middle East situation is one which ads chaos to blame, irrational hatred to legitimate claims for reparation. The former class of Arabists in the West is a dying species. The Arabs themselves play a large responsibility in the stalemate. They just lost interest. The Arab League survives as a relic from a more "romantic" past. The postman doesn't stop there any longer.

In this void money takes over from thought. Hence Trump, MBS, al Sisi and the Gulf talk over the heads of the people directly concerned, with disregard for any form of emotional, more personal investment. I can't imagine what Abbas now must be thinking of his former Abbu Mazen days.  One wonders if any of these players has ever read Edward Said.

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