Jared Kushner’s proposals are not likely to require Israel to dismantle settlements and may recognize Jerusalem as its capital.
Ever since US President Donald Trump took office, there has been much hype about a peace plan for West Asia although no concrete details have emerged. Over the last week, even as Trump claimed credit for what he called progress in the region, his son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, who has been charged with working out a peace deal, has been conducting a round of negotiations over a proposal which many believe is substantially in favour of Israel.
On Monday, in a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, President Trump said, ““I can only say this, and his majesty knows, we’re doing very well in the Middle East. A lot of progress has been made in the Middle East, a lot, and it really started with the end of the horrible Iran deal.”
“That deal was a disaster and things are a lot different since we ended that, a lot different,” he added, referring to the historic 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The withdrawal of the US from the deal was severely criticised by even its closest allies.
Meanwhile, last week, Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, arrived in Jordan on a tour that also saw them visiting Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel to garner support for the US peace plan.
Not much is know about the deal. Yet, available information indicates that the deal is heavily biased against the Palestinians. The peace plan is unlikely to require Israel to dismantle any of its illegal settlements in the West Bank, may recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and will completely disregard the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
The deal would also allegedly let Israel keep control of the Jordan valley and control the borders with Jordan which would fall under the territory of the future Palestinian state. All that the deal is likely to offer to the Palestinians is financial support for infrastructure and energy projects.
The deal is also likely to not address the occupation of Gaza, the restriction of movement in the West Bank, the ongoing land confiscation, and encroachments and violence by Jewish settlers in the West Bank settlements.
The nature of the deal is no surprise considering the close relations both Kushner and Greenblatt have with Israel. Kushner’s companies have allegedly financed the construction of illegal settlements in Palestinian territories.
Kushner’s advocacy of the deal is also a continuation of his stance on Palestine as reflected in comments blaming the massacre of protesters on the people of Gaza. He has also said that the US will go ahead with the peace plan with or without Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority.
The Palestinian authority has already rejected the US as an honest and fair mediator after the latter moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the disputed city’s status as the Israeli capital, even though east Jerusalem being the Palestinian capital is an important component of the internationally-supported two-state solution. The leadership of the Palestinian authority has also refused to meet US officials since the shifting of the embassy.
Given the one-sided nature of the proposals, it is very uncertain if the US has any chance of convincing the other stakeholders that it is an honest mediator, or of contributing in any meaningful way to peace in the region.