"Requiescat in Pace"

President Trump and his "mini-me" Kushner have by all accounts come up with a Palestinian peace plan to be revealed at some point - presumably after the Trump-Putin summit and receipt of Middle East public assiurances by Putin. If the comments of various parties are to be believed, then Kushner and Trump are approaching the problem as a transactional real estate deal in which the costs of the deal to the Palestinians are ephemeral, at least in Trump's mind, and conceptual such as the "right of return," "sovereignty,""national pride, and "dignity," while the benefits are financial and ecoonomic in the form of "promised" major US and Gulf State investment: "a better life"as if that is the way the Palestinians count their blessings. 

The Saudis and UAE, which have never given more than cash and lip service to the Palestinians, have apparantly signed on in return for US military support, arms and a much more aggressive US role against Iran - leading ultimately to "regime change." (John Bolton has not changed his mind about this, never will, and it appears that he has Trump's ear.)   The Jordanians with a majority Palestinian population and a real stake in any solution, despite the King's US visit, do not appear to have a voice in the final decision, even though our actiions could topple the Jordanian King and radicalize a population on Israel's border.  At a minimum, selling out the Palestinian cause for "bread and lentil stew" 1. could lead to massive regional chaos to the benefit of Iran and Islamist radicals.

We tried the Trump transactional approach before when we were negotiating the "autonomy" agreement with the Israelis and Egyptians.  In 1979, Bob Strauss brought some of his big gun investor friends like the CEO of Archer, Daniels, Midland, Dwayne Andreas, to Egypt with the promise of major investments in an effort to supercharge the Autonomy negotiations.  Promises were made but little came of the effort, which could not overcome the Egyptian constraints on free market investment and the failure of Autonomy to take into account the strength of Palestinian aspirations for a national homeland.

Trump's tactic, in coordination with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, appears to be to vilify the Palestinian leadership of the West Bank in the person of Mahmoud Abbas, make a calming approach to the Gaza papulation and Hamas and turn the Palestinian population of the West Bank into a compacent suburban comfort zone for the Israeli right wing settlements project. 

As Trump might say, we had our shot under previous Presidents and failed and he would be right.  So I hope that he is also right that the Paelestiinians do not have the passion of his own political base. But that would not be the description I would use to describe the Palestinians I have known and with whom I have negotiated. 

Of one thing I am certain, Trump and Bibi Netanyahu better pray that Abu Mazen sticks around for awhile, because any replacement, wether it is General Majid Faraj, Mohammed Dahlan,  Mahmoud al-Aloul, Jabil Rajub, or Marwan Barghouti, is going to be more nationalistic, more rigid, and more willing to play to the Palestinian base. Then where will Trump's "deal of the century" be?  I suspect it will be in the same dust bin as our Autonomy talks and the 2000 Camp David Summit.  "Requiescat in pace"


Ned Walker