Monday, June 24, 2019

West of Eden: Surrender Documents

Jews and Palestinians sharing the street at the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem before World War I, via +972.

This is making it pretty explicit:

The famous Jared Kushner "peace plan", part of which the White House unveiled a sketchy picture of over the weekend, isn't a settlement but a surrender in which Palestinians are being asked to permanently abandon their claims of nationhood in return for something more than $25 billion (but much less than the $50 billion you'll see in the headlines, since almost half of that is devoted to funding projects in Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan) in bribe money over ten years, ponied up not by Israel or the United States but by the "wealthy Gulf states and nations in Europe and Asia, along with private investors" who should be represented at the formal rollout in Manama, Bahrain, this week—no Palestinians, who are boycotting the conference, will be there, and no Israelis either; since they have no obligations under the proposal, why should they bother?

Nor will the "regional business leaders" the plan depends on, according to the Washington Post. Why wouldn't they want to invest a billion dollars in Gaza and West Bank tourism? Well, there's not going to be an airport for the West Bank, and the only internal options are buses, shared taxis, or a dicey experience with a rental car:

If you do happen to drive to areas within the West Bank, take heed and uphold security precautions at all times. Roads in the West Bank may not be in a good condition. Damage to cars resulted from driving in the West Bank may not be covered, as many insurance policies are invalid outside of Israel proper. As in any foreign country in which you plan to drive, you must be cautious about the security of your vehicle.
Also, it must be noted that taking a taxi on Palestinian roads can take several times longer if you are stopped at an Israeli Army checkpoint, and may in some circumstances require walking across road blocks and catching another taxi on the other side. As at 2015, few of these roadblocks exist but this can change at any point. Taxi drivers are generally very clued up about the situation and will be able to advise the best approach to get from A to B.
and you'll have to steer clear of the Israeli settlements, which means a lot of really roundabout travel. There will be a "corridor" ($5 billion) from the West Bank to Gaza, but I don't think there are any plans for tourists to visit Gaza at all since it was walled off from most of the rest of the world as a kind of million-inmate prison camp. It's the Israeli government that makes investing in Palestinians a ridiculously bad bet.

And no reason to think the political and security aspects of the plan will make that any better, if the plan even exists, though the Post does seem convinced that it does in some form:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to review the full plan when it is presented, most likely after Israel’s second round of elections this year. The plan has been repeatedly delayed, most recently because of U.S. reluctance to issue it while Netanyahu is standing for reelection. 
Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel will keep an open mind.
“We will hear the American proposal in a fair and open manner. I can’t understand how the Palestinians rejected the plan before even hearing what is in it,” Netanyahu said.
I'd assume that has something to do with the Trump administration's acting entirely as an agent for the Israeli government, recognizing Jerusalem as the "eternal and undivided capital" of the Jewish state, meaning no part of the city will be available as a Palestinian capital, and February's cutoff of all US aid money to West Bank and Gaza, and the equanimity with with which the administration regards Netanyahu's intention announced, during his last election campaign in April, to annex more and more of the West Bank and give up nothing in return—
I will not uproot a single settlement, and I will ensure that we’ll control all the area West of the Jordan river. Will we move to the next stage? The answer is yes, we will move to the next stage—to the gradual extension of Israeli sovereignty in the areas of Judea and Samaria. I also do not distinguish between the settlement blocs and the lone settlements, every settlement like that is for me Israeli.
It is abundantly clear that the Kushner proposals, should they in fact exist (I'm still not convinced), will offer the Palestinians literally zero, nothing whatever. Other than the introductions proposed this weekend to some Arab businessmen who might be able to help them with financing this and that project. The idea of a "partnership for peace" is dead in Jerusalem and Washington; the offer is "surrender now or surrender later".

It's a joke, of course, there's nothing to take seriously here, there will be no sort of settlement on terms like these. That's why the businessmen aren't showing up for the Manama conference, while Egypt and Jordan are protesting in a more moderate way, sending only deputy finance ministers to discuss the subsidiary bribes they're getting offered, and the only European government represented will apparently be Poland's. Kushner may well be stupid enough to think he is accomplishing something, but the somewhat sinister people behind him (per the Post, Trump pal Tom Barrack and the Kirill Dmitriev who figures in the Mueller report as the Russian who met Erik Prince in the Seychelles) can't be. I can't imagine what they have in mind either, but I'm sure it's not good.

And it's a really cruel joke on the Palestinians who will be dumped on once again as the party that's not willing to negotiate, though this act is wearing so thin I can't believe it will survive much longer—maybe no longer than Netanyahu, indicted bribe-taker and husband of a convicted one, facing his second reelection attempt in a year after his total failure to form a government out of the first one. I hope it turns out to be a joke on him as well.

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