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Trump aides end all doubt about whose side they’ll be on in the next great peace process

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We try to avoid giving the “peace process” too much credibility because it was supposed to deliver Palestinians sovereignty 20 years ago (or 70) and it never has. But recent days have seen several incidents that have dashed any thought that Donald Trump would be neutral or an honest broker. So here we go again.

A week ago Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s longtime real-estate lawyer and special representative for Middle East peace, went out to Israel and Palestine and spent most of his time on the Israeli side of the equation: sitting shiva with the family of an Israeli police officer allegedly killed by three Palestinians inside occupied Jerusalem and describing that as an act of terrorism– “She was murdered by terrorists.” Greenblatt also prayed at the Western Wall and chatted up the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jason Greenblatt with Benjamin Netanyahu, June 20

The imbalance was obvious:

The next day Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and lead negotiator, arrived and reportedly spent 2-1/2 hours with Netanyahu– after observers, including the Washington Post’s William Booth, noted that Kushner hugged Netanyahu.

To be sure, Kushner has a lot of boo-birds among the veteran peace-processors who doubt that this thirty-something orthodox Jewish prince of real estate whose family funded settlements can be at all effective. Like longtime negotiator Aaron David Miller:

If Kushner’s going to do the ultimate deal. it’s going to take more than honey but ample amounts of vinegar too.

Or Martin Indyk, who is cynical about Netanyahu playing the young man:

Bibi arranges warm welcome for Jared: a new settlement and denunciation of Abu Mazen as an inciter. Deja vu.

After that session, Kushner reportedly carried Netanyahu’s message to Ramallah, and there was a blowup. His meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was “tense,” said al-Hayat of London (per the Jerusalem Post):

Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.

Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side and refused to commit to the request.

The report claims that the Trump administration was equally upset with Abbas after he failed to denounce the latest stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

Haaretz reported the same imbalance (per the Hill): 

Israeli newspaper Haaretz also reports that Palestinian officials were “greatly disappointed” by their meeting with Kushner and Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.

 “They sounded like Netanyahu’s advisers and not like fair arbiters,” a senior Palestinian official told the newspaper. “They started presenting Netanyahu’s issues and then we asked to hear from them clear stances regarding the core issues of the conflict.”

The news reports said that Trump was considering “withdrawing completely from the process” because of the dustup.

Two days later the State Department spokesperson said this was “just false….we are not pulling out in any way, shape, or form.” Though Heather Nauert admitted that the Abbas meeting had been “difficult.”

We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal… It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging. The President has said himself that it is not going to be an easy process, that both sides – the Israelis and the Palestinians – will have to give a bit…

Daoud Kuttab reported at al-Monitor that the Palestinians felt “abandoned” by the American negotiators, and that Abbas was losing even more credibility among Palestinians as a result:

With the exception of Greenblatt’s iftar with the Palestinian patients at the Maqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, and its meeting President Mahmoud Abbas, the US team had no other meeting with the Palestinians. Between June 19 and June 22, Greenblatt posted 10 tweets detailing meetings with Israeli officialswriters and families versus one tweet of his meeting with Abbas and two of his visit to Maqassed Hospital

Palestinian officials contacted by Al-Monitor said they felt abandoned by the United States as their negotiating team left little leeway for Abbas to be able to show something for his efforts and attempts to keep the lid on the brewing public discontent with him.

Those Palestinians were angered by Greenblatt’s trip:

Palestinians have also pointed to the Twitter feed of US special peace envoy Jason Greenblatt as a sign of the pro-Israel bias of the American negotiating team. Greenblatt has tweeted about visiting the Western Wall, as well as visiting with the families of Israeli soldiers, public figures and intellectuals. In one tweet, Greenblatt described the killing of a member of the Israeli security services by Palestinians as “a brutal act of terrorism.” This description is contrary to the official US definition of terrorism that is limited to attacks on noncombatants.

Aaron David Miller responded to Kuttab that the U.S. is never neutral here:

Daoud — Here’s a news flash for you. You know US can’t be an honest broker; at best, an effective one under certain circumstances.

Miller likes to split hairs here: He has admitted that the U.S. is Israel’s lawyer, but also says that we can be “an effective broker in certain circumstances but rarely as a strictly honest and unbiased one.” (In a Wilson Center event earlier this week, he said that the U.S. has produced “breakthroughs” for peace on three occasions.)

Kuttab noted that the Palestinians were enraged by the new Israeli settlements in occupied territories:

Leading Palestinian daily Al-Quds focused June 23 on the increase in settlement activities as the real proof of who doesn’t want peace. “Talking about peace efforts and having meetings while Israel does what it pleases means that we are translating this effort for peace into the realm of absurdity…. What peace efforts amid all these settlements?”

Here is some of the new colony construction, in the northern West Bank, way beyond any settlement “bloc.”

Netanyahu is under rightwing pressure from his own coalition. And Trump and Kushner are also surely feeling the pressure of the rightwing settler cause, inside the rightwing Republican political class. The AP reported this week:

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister is expressing some disappointment with the White House, saying the election of Donald Trump has not brought about the boom in West Bank settlement construction many had expected.

Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, says the settler movement expected a building boom after Trump’s election. Many members of the president’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and chief Mideast envoy Jared Kushner, have close ties to the settler movement.

The boobirds again. Martin Indyk throws cold water:

Sounds like Trump’s peace and Gulf Arab mediation efforts are both getting bogged down in irreconcilable demands.

So does Aaron David Miller:

Peace takes 2 folks — strong; who listen; willing to find a balance of interests. Don’t have one on either side; and Washington makes 3

Miller seems to think the thrill is gone from the peace process:

Radio silence on peace process is either b/c there’s something or nothing there “there” to All peace process junkies, what say you?

And meantime the story has moved on to palace intrigue, with the rivalry between Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Joe Scarborough says Kushner is overweening (quoted by Jewish Insider):

Donald Trump wants his son in law to be the de facto Secretary of State… They are thinking ‘we don’t really need a Secretary of State, Jared’s going to be running everything himself.’ They’ve now gotten into a situation, they said it — I’ll testify under oath they said it repeatedly — Jared’s going to be the de facto Secretary of State… Let Rex Tillerson do his job or name Jared Kushner secretary of state

Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador, was careful to praise Kushner when she testified at Congress:

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I think he’s being very effective in terms of– when I was there, there’s hope. I felt it–both sides realized they’ve got to come to the table. Both sides realize something needs to happen. I think he’s handled it respectfully and I think he’s handled it aggressively. So that’s really the one thing I’ve worked with him on.”

While others wonder when the wheels will come completely off the cart.

About Philip Weiss

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22 Responses

  1. Citizen
    June 30, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Frightening to me, the Zionist & naive twerp Kushner has been handed so much power,

    • Tuyzentfloot
      July 1, 2017, 8:04 am

      It is slightly bothersome when characters ( or stories really)that are too outrageous for parody are demoted to the real world. Frankly I think it’s getting to be a bit much.

    • Emory Riddle
      Emory Riddle
      July 1, 2017, 8:05 am

      It does not matter who is president. The Israel First policy never changes

    • Emory Riddle
      Emory Riddle
      July 1, 2017, 4:57 pm

      This is like having the White Citizen Councils of the American South in the 1960s being in charge of integrating America.

  2. eljay
    June 30, 2017, 6:09 pm

    … But recent days have seen several incidents that have dashed any thought that Donald Trump would be neutral or an honest broker. …

    Any thought that Trump would be neutral or an honest broker was dashed over a year ago when he said this:

    I am a great friend of Israel. I was the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade… I have so many friends. In fact one of them, one of my great friends — where is Jared, my son-in-law? Where is he? My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic … So, there is nobody closer — and Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him, for his campaign. I did a commercial for him.

    And this:

    I’m very pro-Israel. In fact, I was the head of the Israeli Day Parade a number of years ago, I did a commercial for Netanyahu when he was getting elected … People are born with hatred, they’re taught hatred. And I have to say, it’s mostly on the one side, not on the other side. But they’re taught hatred.

    And this:

    It serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy. … it doesn’t help if I start saying– I’m very pro-Israel. Very. More than anybody on the stage. But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors … As a negotiator, I cannot [negotiate peace] as well if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.

  3. RoHa
    June 30, 2017, 7:41 pm

    There was doubt?

  4. Kay24
    June 30, 2017, 8:51 pm

    You could be almost certain that Kushner, the wet behind the ears, and devious son in law, who is a master wheeler and dealer in business, was going to fail miserably trying to broker peace between an occupier and it’s victim. Not when his family has given millions of dollars towards the illegal settlements built on stolen lands belonging to the victims. Abbas would have been a bigger fool to think that the Palestinians would have their freedom after Kushner’s lame efforts.

  5. Citizen
    July 1, 2017, 6:30 am

    We notice the US mainstream media never mentions the bias background of all key figures Trump has appointed to “make a deal” to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Washington press corps doesn’t bring up that obvious bias issue.

  6. Michaela G
    Michaela G
    July 1, 2017, 10:01 am

    Where is Donald Trump headed in his deal of deals for Israel-Palestine? I strongly believe that his desire is to implement Netanyahu’s offer to make peace with the rich Arab states without any justice for the Palestinians. Both Netanyahu and Trump have made reference to this policy. Bibi was direct, Trump, oblique. Prominent American analysts of Middle East matters say that the Arab countries — referring to those of the GCC — could not get away with this because of reaction from “the street.” I question that explanation. Saudi Arabia has no “street” to worry about because of the Kingdom’s extreme repression. Of course, the recent over-reach by Salman Junior has thrown a monkey wrench into this trajectory with MbS’s war with Qatar, but I expect a Saudi-Bibi “peace” with no Palestinian state idea will continue to re-emerge.

    • Citizen
      July 2, 2017, 5:15 am

      I agree with your scenario; as to reaction from “the street”–this includes the Arab street outside Saudi Arabia–a very good reason why the Saudi regime wants to kill the relatively free press in Qatar. Al Jazeera, (sic?)

  7. JosephA
    July 1, 2017, 10:20 am

    It’s a farce, but in real life.

  8. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    July 1, 2017, 11:11 am

    If I never again hear or read “peace” and “process” in the same phrase, it will be too soon. Lots of process, no peace, since peace was never the intention.
    As for removing all doubts: What doubts?

  9. iResistDe4iAm
    July 1, 2017, 12:05 pm

    Abbas angrily accused Kushner and Trump’s lead international negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, of taking Israel’s side and refused to commit to the request.

    Arafat was most likely poisoned to make room for the quisling collaborator Abbas.

    Now that Abbas is displaying insolence towards his new masters, he’s likely to suffer an induced heart attack (or other terminal illness).

  10. Ottawa observer
    Ottawa observer
    July 1, 2017, 3:53 pm

    Hey Phil,
    I recommend Mondoweiss do a careful review of the “Clinton parameters” for a 2 state solution (these are basically the same as the Arab league peace proposal).

    Then compare these to the 3 basic democratic demands of the BDS call.
    (I am happy to do so for you, if you prefer.)

    A quick analysis will show that even if Trump imposes a 2 state DEAL along those lines, it will not solve the problems, and so will quickly unravel.

  11. Steve Macklevore
    Steve Macklevore
    July 1, 2017, 5:00 pm

    Frankly, Shillary would have been just as bad – she was up to her neck in Zionist money pre-election.

    Had she won the electoral college, she would have appointed the same old 100% Jewish negotiating team to generate wind and piss and zero progress. Meanwhile the occupation would have continued along with settlement construction.

  12. DavidDaoud
    July 1, 2017, 6:31 pm

    Here’s what Brother Nathanael has to say about Jared Kushner:
    Kushner Sings Soprano

    • Marnie
      July 2, 2017, 6:13 am

      Oh my gourd, that super creepy grimace and chuckle (O:55) with the conspiratorial “Can I reveal Jared, how long we’ve known you”; followed by the silent “and how much we’ve got on you?”. That’s right dear Jared, put on a fresh coat of chapstick and get back on your knees….

      • gamal
        July 2, 2017, 9:16 am

        “put on a fresh coat of chapstick and get back on your knees….”

        dear Marnie

        I would like to share something miraculous, two strangers (the long haired guitarist and the guy who looks like stone at first) and so you’ve drunk your tea and now play your cup, why not be in the moment. all that ahmad does is between him and the dark locked gypsy, and God I guess, he always gets his cut. its not heavy he is our brother.

      • Marnie
        July 2, 2017, 11:08 am

        gamal –
        that was exquisite

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