Next week Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are expected to release a “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine that will set a new low for the United States in accepting Israeli expansion in Palestine. Yesterday on the Israeli broadcaster i24 News, its White House correspondent said Trump has domestic political considerations.
Miriam and Sheldon Adelson are Trump’s biggest political donors. “They speak to Trump all the time,” Dan Raviv said. And their view is that it is important that a plan under which “Israel can set its own borders” come out sooner than later because Israel has a “very friendly” president in the White House and, come November, who knows who will be moving into the White House. In a word, let’s get annexation green-lighted while we can.
You’d think that the Adelsons’ election-year desires would be a major angle on this major story: Trump’s largest donor using money to distort U.S. foreign policy! After all, the media and the Democratic Party are very upset about Trump’s manipulation of foreign policy in the Ukraine, to try and crush a political foe. Trump got impeached for that.
But apart from Raviv, I have seen zero coverage of this important angle.
The New York Times has a long article about Trump’s inviting Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz to the White House next week, saying, “The invitation could provide a welcome distraction for President Trump, facing an impeachment trial.” Really, that’s why he’s doing it? Distraction?
By contrast, the article anatomizes Netanyahu’s political calculations in getting the visit. He will get his indictment moved into the shadows, possibly scuttling Gantz’s ability to prevent an immunity deal in the Israeli parliament, he will “entrap” Gantz due to his experience at White House optics, etc.
Nothing about the political pressures on Trump to crush Palestinians in American foreign policy when he has the chance– because of donors he talks to “all the time.” Those same donors have been Netanyahu’s biggest supporters too.
This is a scandal in plain sight. Trump praised the Adelsons out of nowhere last week when giving a statement on the China trade deal. Sheldon Adelson did the exact same thing in the last Republican administration, under George W. Bush. His main agenda throughout that administration was to destroy the peace process that had begun under Clinton. Adelson does not believe the Palestinians exist, and wanted to make sure the U.S. did nothing to establish a Palestinian state.
Adelson helped start an organization called One Jerusalem, of which Bush aide Douglas Feith was co-founder, that sought to prevent the division of Jerusalem under a peace plan, and he succeeded! The New Yorker reported in 2008 that Adelson fought Condoleezza Rice’s Annapolis conference in his discussions with Bush; and when Bush left, Adelson backed Netanyahu as Netanyahu refused to make any concessions toward a Palestinian state under Obama.
Then the Adelsons gave over $100 million to Republican causes, and Trump came in, and the embassy got moved to Jerusalem, and the Iran deal got trashed, too, the Palestinians thrown out of Washington, the Golan annexation recognized, you name it.
The media can’t address this power other than in asides. Tim Egan of the Times saying that Adelson is more powerful than the secretary of state. Tom Friedman saying that Trump moved the embassy to get “a huge check from Sheldon Adelson.”
The Adelsons obviously want Trump to put down official benchmarks that will never get changed. After all, Democratic candidates for president accept that the embassy in in Jerusalem, even Elizabeth Warren.
Liberal Zionist groups are all appalled by the so-called peace deal as a devastating blow to the two-state solution (here and here). J Street calls the plan and its timing a “norm-shattering” intervention by the U.S. in the Israeli elections. Someone really needs to talk about Trump’s own political calculations in destroying Palestinian freedom.
P.S. McClatchy reported last year that the Adelsons were putting off their big donations in the 2020 cycle till as late as possible, so as not to excite negative publicity. I say they have nothing to worry about from the toothless American press.