The Trump administration is working hard to organize a Palestinian-Israeli peace summit that will endorse the much-heralded Two State Solution and will be attended by Arab countries — despite warnings the time is not ripe for such a conference and that Trump is repeating the same mistake of previous administrations that failed to grasp the essence of the conflict.
To make progress on the issue of Palestinian-Israeli peace, Trump again dispatched Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy for international negotiations, to the Middle East.
Greenblatt, an orthodox Jew, spent the past few days as an observer at the 28th Arab League summit, where Greenblatt had meetings with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia in an effort to revive the moribund Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
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Based on transcripts of the meetings, Greenblatt emphasized the Arab countries should play a role in brokering peace with Israel and repeated Trump’s claim that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would reverberate across the Middle East.
Trump and his team are reportedly trying to organize a peace summit that will be attended not only by the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but also by the Arab Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.
The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that such a summit would require a stop on building outside the municipal borders of existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, also called the West Bank.
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Israel and the Trump administration are currently discussing new guidelines for the construction in these so-called “settlements” and the Israeli security cabinet is scheduled to discuss the issue Thursday.
In Israel, however, experts are warning that Trump’s initiative could do more harm than good.
Gideon Sher, a senior fellow at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies said that without a clear idea about the exact outcome of the process Trump wants to launch, the type of high-profile event the president has in mind “could do more damage than good.”
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Eric C. Mandel, the director of the Middle East Political and Information Network, warns Trump not to make the same mistake as his predecessors who thought the conflict is simply a fight over territory.
He wrote in an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post the 100-year-old conflict is “primarily a war of Islamic religious supremacy.”
“The path to peace is not one a cartographer can delineate. We need to understand the ideological reasons why simply dividing the land has received negative Palestinian responses despite offers of 100 percent of the territory, with land swaps,” Mandel wrote.
“Until that understanding takes hold in the Western diplomatic mind, negotiations will continue to fail, promises will continue to be broken and violence will continue to follow,” according to Mandel.
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He provided examples of the “Ribat,” a religious war for the liberation of the land, the Palestinian Authority is waging because Israel is part of the Dar al-Islam (the house of Islam) and said the Palestinian Arabs are masters in the art of double-speak when they deal with the Americans.
Because Trump refers to a “great real-estate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, the PA pretends that if Israel gives back “the stolen land over the 1967 borders, everything will be fine,” wrote Mandel.
We have seen this before.
Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian Authority, was a master in double-speak during President Bill Clinton’s efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.
Arafat was talking about the “peace of the brave” and suggested he was ready to end the conflict with Israel. But after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the preparations for war began as soon as Yasser Arafat and the PLO arrived in Ramallah.
The evidence for this was delivered by Daniel Polisar who headed the organization Peace Watch, a group that was officially working with the PA and monitored the implementation of the Oslo Accords.
In his 2002 landmark article, “Arafat and the Myth of Legitimacy,” Polisar showed how under the pretext of the Oslo Accords, Arafat set up a classic dictatorship in the territories under his control and build up an army of almost 60.000 fighters while the agreement allowed him 9.000 police officers.
Polisar and others later showed that the Arabs living in the territories under PA control are not interested in a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria ruled by the Palestinian Authority.
The most recent evidence of this resistance among Palestinian Arabs against the idea of a PA state in Judea and Samaria was delivered by Jordanian journalist Mudar Zahran, who travelled to the Palestinian cities and towns of the so-called West Bank and interviewed Palestinian Arabs about the issue.
“Abu Mazen [Abbas] controls some of the West Bank and we are already living a nightmare in those areas, why should we want to expand Abbas’ control to the rest of the West Bank?” a tribal leader in the Nablus area told Zahran. “Before Oslo, we all thought we would have a state instead of occupation, what we got is a state of disaster and a new occupation called the PA.”
Zahran spoke to many Palestinian Arabs who confirmed what residents of Bethlehem, Beit Jallah and neighboring al-Khader told this reporter three years ago: They don’t want a state that ruled by the PA.
Many of these Arabs had lived under full Israeli control of their cities and towns before the arrival of the PLO in 1994. One of them, a contractor from Hebron, told me how he had helped build a new part of the Tel HaShomer Hospital in Tel Aviv and used to bring his family with him for leisure in the Israeli city.
“Arafat destroyed my life,” he said at the end of our conversation.
Zahran also interviewed some Palestinian academics.
”We thought the PA would be the messiah, it turned out to be a monkey in the middle, complicating our daily lives, making our livelihoods difficult and causing both, the Israelis and us, more trouble,” a professor said to Zahran.
“The only achievement the PA has brought was enriching its own leaders … while our people keep getting poorer by the day, and now Abbas wants a state. I can say on behalf of all people here in the West Bank that we do want a state, but not under Abbas nor under the PA,” he added.
Another female professor told the Jordanian journalist that the PA is nothing more than a Mafioso-like organization, while a Palestinian Christian said the PA “acts like an occupation, like a gang and collects our taxes and leaves nothing for the people,” the man said. “And now they are talking about a state? No thanks.”
The overall picture of the PA that emerges from Zahran’s interviews with anonymous Palestinian Arabs is that of a kleptocracy and a mafia that uses ancient tribal methods to rule over others.
But that doesn’t mean the Palestinian Arabs sympathize with Israel.
The Palestinian Arabs don’t like Israel. In fact, the hatred against Israel is greater than ever due to incitement and hate-education in the PA schools and by the PA-controlled media.
“No Palestinians really care for Abbas quest for a state, this is nothing on their table, and nor are they even interested in this.” a Palestinian journalist said. “People in the West Bank are very anti-Israel, but they hate the PA just as much as they hate Israel.”
Zahran, who also heads the Jordanian Opposition Coalition, has an alternative for the so-called two-state solution. He seeks to replace the Abdullah II regime in Jordan with a Palestinian majority government that will form a federation with the Palestinian Arabs who will again receive Jordanian citizenship and voting rights for the Jordanian parliament.
The only problem with his solution appears to be that neither the Israeli government nor the Trump Administration seem to be paying serious attention to the fact a Palestinian state already exists and that Zahran’s idea could be the logical alternative to the propagated two-state solution, which will not only endanger Israel’s future but that of the Palestinian Arabs as well.
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