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What does Kushner have up his sleeve now?

July 23, 2019 at 2:41 pm

Jared Kushner, (R) Senior Advisor to US President Donald Trump, and Jason Greenblatt, advisor to Trump on Israel on 14 February, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland [Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

The US President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt are due to begin another tour of the Middle East. This time, it is notable that the Trump administration’s spoiled brat will be accompanied by the US Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz. This is certainly no coincidence, as linking the Iranian and Palestinian issues is a deeply-rooted and institutionalised approach within the current White House and its political behaviour.

The failure of the funding conference in Manama will be a priority in the discussions between the US delegation and senior officials in the capitals it will visit. However, many sources have not ruled out the possibility that this tour will be different to others. It is suggested that we will see the unveiling of the political aspects of the “deal of the century” in preparation for its formal announcement in November after the Israeli General Election scheduled for September and the formation of the next Israeli government. However, the absence of Cairo from Kushner’s tour agenda casts doubt on this.

Other predictions include a change which may have occurred in how the administration views the potential formation of the next government in Israel and its alliances. While the Trump team will continue to deal with the far-right government in Tel Aviv, it seems that it understands that a national unity government may be a stronger foundation through which to pass the “deal of the century”, not least because the future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is uncertain, given that he is plagued by scandals and police investigations that may end his political career.

In this context, it cannot be ruled out — although it is unlikely — that the details of the deal and its main elements will be revealed, either officially or leaked, as an entry point for political moves in Israel that lead to a national unity government instead of another built around the far right.

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This may clash with Netanyahu’s priorities, mainly the priority of his own survival. Israeli reports mention his race against time to defend his personal and political future. The Prime Minister is arguably facing two possibilities: returning to office through an agreement with the right wing and a safety net formed by its parties; or spending the rest of his life behind bars. This has prompted observers and analysts to predict that Netanyahu might launch the last adventure of his political life, a harsh and decisive military offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This is a risky gamble with unpredictable consequences and outcomes. It may even hasten his departure from the political scene or his imprisonment.

Nothing is certain at this moment, neither in terms of the “deal of the century” nor of Netanyahu’s options. We do know, though, that the Palestinian people have, in a rare display of unity, rejected the deal en masse, and will not accept it, despite the friendship that Kushner has sought to extend between the US and Palestinian Presidents.

As for Gaza, its people have persevered bravely, despite the obvious weaknesses and isolation, in the face of three major wars and several attacks launched by Israel. It may, however, still prove to be Netanyahu’s graveyard and the final nail in his coffin as the longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 23 July 2019

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.