There are number of questions raised by the recent visit made by Kushner and Greenblatt to the Middle East, in particular their repeated and prolonged meetings with Israeli officials.
Israeli sources have said that the visits focused on putting the final touches on the American peace plan, known as the ‘deal of the century’. Yet the likely fate of this plan has already become clear: the US will present the plan and the Palestinians will completely reject it. Meanwhile the Israelis with respond with yes. Nothing will change on the ground and the occupation and colonisation will continue (if not accelerate).
So, why have these meetings been numerous and urgent?
The key reason is Gaza: Kushner and Greenblatt, are particularly concerned with protecting Israel from the perils of its blowback from its own actions in the Strip. In other words, while Israel seems to be intent an aggressive stance, come-what-may, the US envoys want to prevent the situation in the Gaza Strip from blowing up in Israel’s face.
There are two particular problems Kushner and Greenblatt seem to be focused on: The first is President Abu Mazen’s rejection of any calming efforts Gaza and his insistence that sanctions remain in place in order to punish Hamas.
The second problem is the Defence Minister Lieberman’s rejection, as well as the rejection of the most important minister in the Cabinet, Naftali Bennett, to link calming the situation in Gaza to a truce.
Meanwhile, the ministers receive support and encouragement from the army and the military institution and receive no real objection from the Arab countries. According to Haaretz newspaper, the Jordanian King does not mind on the condition that this is not in the context of a plan to separate the West Bank from Gaza. As for the Saudi monarch, King Mohammed bin Salman, he, unlike his father, supports this process even at the expense of dividing the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the context of applying Trump’s plan.
A second goal that Netanyahu, Kushner, and Greenblatt are seeking to achieve is to ensure that Hamas, will not benefit from any economic or humanitarian aid or progress on negotiations. Nor will it reap the fruits of its patience and perseverance alongside its people in the face of the Israeli and non-Israeli blockade.
It is possible that the US and Israel will resort to some Arab friends as they often do in similar “hard times” in order to facilitate their aims. This could involve moving, and not resolving issues around captured soldiers’ issue, without this appearing to be an achievement for the resistance, but rather a concession they made in the face of Israel’s inflexibility.
To what extent will Netanyahu and Kushner achieve their plans and goals? This is clearly linked to the level of positions, priorities, and calculations of the Palestinian people, particularly their valiant resistance.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.