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Kushner’s peace plan is ‘pretext’ for Israeli land grab: Palestinian UN ambassador

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UNITED NATIONS — The Trump administration’s long-awaited plan peace for the Middle East is really a cover for Israel’s annexation of West Bank settlements, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Riyad Mansour said Tuesday.

A peace deal devised by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is expected to be released in June, after Ramadan, following repeated United States moves that appear to embolden Israel and hurt the Palestinians.

“If what we read is what is to be expected from this plan, then it seems that the objective of it is not a solution to the conflict, but to give pretext to the Israeli government to annex other portions” of the West Bank, Mansour told a small group of reporters at UN headquarters.

“Because those who are interested in peace, they will be more balanced, more reasonable. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel, they build on what exists and modify it … But to start from scratch, you throw away everything we have worked on for 25 years.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed in the waning days of a re-election campaign he won on April 9 to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank — a move that likely rallied his right wing base in a tight race.

An Israeli land grab of Jewish settlements there would doubtless trigger condemnation from the Palestinians, who want to create their own state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory Israel captured in 1967.

Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, have spent the past two years developing a proposal in the hopes of kick-starting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

But the Palestinians have refused to talk to US negotiators since Trump decided to shift the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and slash funding for Palestinian refugees.

Mansour said there was “no magic bullet” for Palestinian officials to use on the Trump administration.

“Some in the administration, they think: ‘Yes, what will help peace is break the legs of the Palestinians, break one arm and five teeth, and when they are on the ground they will come crawling to you for anything you offer them’,” Mansour said.

“Those who think that way don’t know the Palestinians.”

Mansour described strong support for the creation of a Palestinian state among Europeans, Russians and at the United Nations, that would see a one-sided Trump administration peace plan rejected internationally.

Any Israeli land grabs in the West Bank would yield a toxic race-based state akin to apartheid South Africa, in which Palestinians would be second-class citizens within Israel’s borders, said Mansour.

If Israel decided “to to force a one-state reality, the Palestinian people will accelerate their reproduction machines and increase the number of Palestinians to face apartheid, because there is no name for it but apartheid,” Mansour said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the head of the world body, secretary-general Antonio Guterres, had not seen a draft of the US peace plan, but said any deal should grant Palestinians their own country.

“The secretary general has met Mr Kushner and Mr Greenblatt on occasion, but as far as I know, no plan has been shared with the secretary general and it is a plan that is coming out of the United States, not out of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.

Kushner, who was a real estate developer before joining his father-in-law in the White House, has said the proposal is not an effort to impose US will on the region. He has not said whether it calls for a two-state solution, a goal of previous peace efforts.

His plan, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the past 18 months, has two major components. It will address core political grievances, such as the status of Jerusalem, while seeking to boost the flailing Palestinian economy.

Arab officials and analysts say the plan is likely to be biased towards Israel since the Trump administration has taken a tough line toward Palestinians, cutting off aid and ordering the PLO’s office in Washington shut.

James Reinl

James Reinl is a journalist, editor and current affairs analyst. He has reported from more than 35 countries and won awards for covering wars in Sri Lanka, Congo and Somalia, Haiti’s earthquake and human rights abuses in Iran. His work has appeared on PRI's The World, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, Fox News, France 24, CBC, CBS News, dpa, RTÉ, The Times, The National, Monocle and APTN.

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4 Responses

  1. Kay24 on May 7, 2019, 3:06 pm

    I have said this before. This IS a pretext for land grabs. After taking all they can (including Jerusalem) from their victims , the Palestinians, Jared will please Crooked Bibi, by offering the Palestinians NOTHING, and obviously they will turn it down. The zionists including Bibi, Jared, and Trump, will then say the Palestinians do not want peace and turned their miserable peace plan down. A stupid but devious plan.
    Then the greedy Israelis will justify MORE land grabs. Predictable.

    They will then get rid of all the Arabs from the “Galilee”, as the UN has stated the Palestinian territories will be unlivable by 2020. Jared will have a town named after him. Predictable.
    Jared is as slimy as Bibi.

  2. HarryLaw on May 7, 2019, 6:04 pm

    Ambassador Mansour said “Any Israeli land grabs in the West Bank would yield a toxic race-based state akin to apartheid South Africa, in which Palestinians would be second-class citizens within Israel’s borders”. Mohammed bin Salman[MBS] told US Jewish leaders last year… “It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the table or shut up and stop complaining.”
    Palestinians within Israel proper are already discriminated against in over 50 laws including Israels ‘Jews only’ immigration policies and the more recent and blatantly racist’ Israeli state law’.
    Mansour knows Netanyahu promised to annex Israeli West Bank settlements, most of which are in area ‘C’ [60% of West Bank] but with, [importantly, only approx 180,000 Palestinians living there, who could be offered Israeli citizenship without disturbing the demographics too much] . Leaving the Palestinians in areas ‘A’ and ‘B’ plus Gaza to be self governing entities [not a state] akin to Bantustans in South Africa. Money from Saudi Arabia, the EU and US would be promised to bribe the Palestinians. I find it difficult to believe Mansour and Abbas do not know what the essence of the deal consists of since MBS has known for a long time and Abbas has met MBS since. Sovereignty over areas A and B will not be ceded to the Palestinians since [according to Israel] they are sovereign territories of the ‘Land of Israel’, until [as the Israelis would put it] a longer term ‘solution’ to the Palestinian problem can be devised. Until then the occupation will continue.

  3. Misterioso on May 8, 2019, 8:58 am

    “Why the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan shouldn’t be released,” by Dov Waxman**, The Conversation, May 6/19

    “Dead on arrival.”

    “That’s what almost every expert predicts will be the fate of the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    “As the author of the new book, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know,” I share this view.

    “Low expectations”

    “Developed in secrecy for the past two years by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, along with Trump’s long time lawyers Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman (now U.S. ambassador to Israel), the peace plan’s release has been repeatedly postponed.

    “According to news reports, it will finally be made public sometime next month. That’s after the new Israeli government is formed and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends.

    “You might think that a plan cloaked in secrecy, aimed at achieving what President Trump has called the ‘deal of the century’ to end the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, would be eagerly anticipated and widely welcomed.

    “But it seems that no one is enthusiastically waiting for this plan or ready to embrace it, least of all Israelis and Palestinians. Even President Trump has kept his distance from the plan and, reportedly, hasn’t read it in full.

    “About the only thing the Trump administration’s peace plan has going for it is the fact that nobody expects it to succeed. With expectations so low, there’s less risk that the likely failure of the plan will trigger another round of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

    “That’s what happened previously when U.S.-led efforts to make peace failed. The Second Intifada, for example, erupted shortly after the failure of the peace talks at Camp David in July 2000.

    “Dim chance of success”

    “There are many reasons why Kushner’s peace plan seems doomed to fail. Some of these are the Trump administration’s own making.

    “President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 – with no mention of Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. Since then, relations between his administration and the Palestinian leadership based in the West Bank have gone from bad to worse.

    “The administration has taken a series of punitive actions against Palestinians. They include ending U.S. funding for the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, slashing aid to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, closing the PLO’s office in Washington, D.C. and even eliminating funding for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence programs.

    “But those actions have not forced the Palestinian leadership to be more compliant and compromising.

    “Instead, the measures stiffened their resistance to American pressure while angering and alienating the Palestinian public, who have suffered as a result of the cutbacks in U.S. aid.

    “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has railed against the Trump administration’s pro-Israel bias, and the Palestinian Authority that Abbas heads has refused to meet with or talk to Trump administration officials.

    “Political aspirations vs. money”

    “Even if President Abbas were not so hostile to the Trump administration and vice versa, he would never accept the terms of the peace plan that Kushner and company have devised.

    “Although its details remain secret, its broad outlines have gradually emerged:

    “In exchange for a massive infusion of aid and investment financed by wealthy Arab gulf states, the Palestinians would have to accept Israeli settlements deep inside the West Bank, Israel’s permanent control over the Jordan Valley and a long-term Israeli military presence in the West Bank, where roughly 2.8 million Palestinians live.

    “The Palestinians would also have to abandon their demand for a capital in East Jerusalem and maybe even give up their decades-long quest for sovereign statehood.

    “No Palestinian leader would agree to these terms, which effectively amount to a surrender to long-time Israeli demands, not a peace agreement based on mutual compromise.

    “Palestinians desperately need economic opportunities. But I doubt they will pressure their leadership to capitulate – as Kushner apparently hopes they will – or forsake their long struggle for national self-determination.

    “And many younger Palestinians, who are less committed to the goal of Palestinian statehood, would prefer to have Israeli citizenship than live in a small, fragmented, autonomous Palestinian entity.

    “Nor will Arab states like Saudi Arabia force the Palestinians to accept such a one-sided deal. Kushner’s friend, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, might be willing to offer Abbas billions of dollars, but that won’t entice Abbas to give up Palestinian political aspirations and territorial demands.

    “Prelude to Israeli annexation”

    “While the Palestinians are bound to reject the Trump administration’s peace plan, the Israelis are unlikely to fully embrace it, despite its decidedly pro-Israel bent.

    “Prime Minister Netanyahu will certainly be careful not to antagonize President Trump, with whom he has forged a friendship and political alliance.

    “But he will also be careful not to lose the support of his coalition partners on which the survival of his government depends.

    “It seems likely that Netanyahu’s government will include far-right parties that want Israel to annex the West Bank, in whole or in part. They will object to any plan that cedes West Bank territory to the Palestinians, since they regard it as sacred land that belongs to the Jewish people for eternity.

    “I believe there is a real risk that a new, right-wing Israeli government will seize upon Palestinian rejection of Kushner’s peace plan to justify annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

    “In a television interview shortly before the recent Israeli election, Netanyahu promised to extend Israeli sovereignty to its settlements in the West Bank. This was undoubtedly a last-minute bid by Netanyahu to convince right-wing Israelis, especially settlers, to vote for his Likud Party.

    “Yet Netanyahu may have no choice but to fulfill this promise if he forms a right-wing government with a slim parliamentary majority. The inevitable failure of Kushner’s peace plan might give him the perfect opportunity to do this – with American acquiescence, if not support.

    “To avoid this danger, and the potentially dire consequences that could follow from Israel’s annexation of its West Bank settlements, I think it would be better if the Trump administration just kept its peace plan to itself.

    “Releasing the plan will probably do more harm than good. It almost certainly won’t bring peace, and it could ultimately lead to a severe deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations.”
    **Dov Waxman is Professor of Political Science, International Affairs and Israel Studies, Northeastern University

  4. Vera Gottlieb on May 8, 2019, 12:20 pm

    israel’s land grab will continue, regardless.

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