Asked in an interview whether he believes the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves, U.S. senior presidential advisor Jared Kushner said, “That’s a very good question….The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing.” Subsequently, the Palestinian Authority called on the Arab states to boycott Kushner.
The international economic workshop in Bahrain on June 25, 2019, is slated to explore economic opportunities for Palestinians. It will also be a demonstration of the normalization between the Arab states and Israel. The Palestinian Authority refuses to attend. Mahmoud Abbas has led the Palestinians into crises, and he is now unable to extricate them from the dangerous predicament.
Asked in an interview whether he believes the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves, Jared Kushner said in an interview on June 2, 2019, with Axios on HBO,1 “That’s a very good question….The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing.” Kushner is President Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law. His words are raising a storm among the leaders of the PA.
When asked whether he understands why the Palestinians do not trust him, he replied: “I am not here to be trusted.” I believe that the Palestinians will judge the plan based on if they think it “will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not.”
Kushner refused to say whether the U.S. peace plan would include the two-state solution. “I do think they should have self-determination. I’m going to leave the details until we come out with the actual plan,” Kushner said.
Palestinian Calls for Boycotting U.S. Negotiators
In response, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat called on the Arab countries to boycott Jared Kushner. “He pays no attention to the Palestinians and has isolated himself from having any role in the peace process. Once again, I call on the Arab brothers not to talk to the group of settlers (Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman) who are planning on helping the settlers flourish on our backs,”2 Erekat said.
Jared Kushner did not hesitate to use the TV screen to let the Palestinians stare his truth in the face. This despite the Palestinians’ unyielding demands for a Palestinian state inside the 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Kushner’s words scored a direct hit to the heart of the Palestinian national aspirations. The PLO has been confident that it is already a state for all intents and purposes, ever since the “declaration of independence” of the Palestine National Council in Algiers in 1988. The frustration and despair of senior PA officials grow as the economic workshop in Bahrain on June 25-26, 2019, draws closer.
Saeb Erekat’s call to the Arab states to boycott the top three government officials will fall on deaf ears. The three American officials are supposed to play starring roles alongside the representatives of the Arab countries at the Bahrain economic workshop.
Jared Kushner elaborated on what many Arab leaders believe but do not dare say. They too are familiar with Mahmoud Abbas’s decadent government. His government is corrupt, and it operates like the Sicilian mafia. [See the recently published “A Secret Pay Raise by PA Cabinet Angers Palestinian Public.”3] The widespread corruption was also the case when Yasser Arafat was in power.
Similarly, the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip is incorrigibly corrupt. It is run by a gang of terrorists that founded a terrorist state in Gaza after it violently expelled the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
Kushner’s remarks more than suggest that the U.S. peace plan is based on the principles of “economic peace” Prime Minister Netanyahu has been preaching since 2008.
What Kushner did not mention was the security aspect. Hamas established an extremist Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip. This Islamic emirate calls for the destruction of Israel and is loyal to Iran. Kushner did not elaborate on the fear that the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank may lead to a Hamas takeover. For this reason, Israel is only willing to give the Palestinians their own government or a “state-minus.” Israel is not willing to risk losing control of security in the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he was encouraged by the decisions of the Islamic Conference and the Arab summit that he took part in early June. He received official backing to his views on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the re-adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative. But how much of the support he received was genuine, and how much was “lip service?”
The Trump government is determined to hold the economic workshop in Bahrain. It is supposed to be the first stage of the “Deal of the Century.” The economic workshop in Bahrain is supposed to be a demonstration of normalization between the Arab states and Israel. To Mahmoud Abbas’s dismay, the quiet, behind-the-scenes normalization has already begun to show itself gradually. Mahmoud Abbas can do nothing to prevent it.
Palestinians, Get Real
There is another truth that the Palestinians need to hear. They need to become more grounded in reality. The Palestinian society is divided and unable to reach national reconciliation. The separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip goes on. The PA is experiencing a severe financial crisis. The Gaza Strip continues to oscillate between calm and escalating conflict.
Seventy-one years have passed since the establishment of the State of Israel. The Palestinians call this event the Nakba. The Palestinian generation of 1948 is disappearing. The United States plans to destroy UNRWA and announce the resettlement of the refugees in the Arab countries where they live. If the Palestinians entirely reject the “Deal of the Century,” Israel is expected to receive the “green light” from the administration to apply Israeli law over the “green line” to parts of the West Bank.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not a charismatic leader. He is not capable of political maneuvering and redeeming the Palestinians from their crises. He is captive to his preconceptions and desires to step down from his post as a national hero. There is no charismatic Palestinian leader on the horizon. The indications of what will happen after the economic workshop in Bahrain raise many concerns for the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
* * *