What do you dislike about Jared Kushner

Donald Trump's Middle East plan is "almost done"

"Soon, we're almost done," said Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner a few days ago to the Palestinian daily "Al-Quds" when asked when the ominous Middle East peace plan that has been around since the beginning of the Trump presidency will will be presented. And Kushner also made it clear in the interview that the US may intend to go ahead with its idea without the cooperation of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. Since the American recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and the opening of the US embassy there, there has been radio silence between the Palestinian Authority and the USA.

The fact that something is happening behind the scenes was evident not least from the recent travel activities of Kushner and the official US Middle East representative Jason Greenblatt: Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia were the stops as well as Qatar, which is isolated from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, from which the US hopes to influence Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Amman with King Abdullah; it was the first official meeting since 2014, after years of tension. And Abdullah was in Washington on Monday praising Donald Trump for the "humility" and "decency" that made the world a better place. Even the US president himself seemed surprised.

There are still no known details of Trump's "big deal", with which he wants to reconcile the Arabs with Israel, which should enable a common front against Iran. But there has never been a commitment by this US government to a genuinely independent Palestinian state, and according to experts and the media, the US proposal should also run in this direction: no Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, but in Abu Dis, no major Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, not even from the Jordan Valley. In return, above all economic development, also for the Gaza Strip.

Cementing the cleavage

Since the politically and physically weakened Abbas is unwilling and unable to promote reconciliation and reunification between his Fatah and Hamas, a separate development would result in cementing the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Egypt is supposed to act as a guarantee power for the small territory. Parts of the Sinai are being co-developed with the Gaza Strip for this purpose; the Egyptian media are talking about a joint free trade zone including a port, and perhaps an airport.

According to the "Middle East Eye", Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - which is not surprising - but also Jordan and Egypt are ready to support the US plan, even if the Palestinians block it for the time being. Abbas' presidency is coming to an end, his successor may be more flexible - maybe not. However, the Arabs should continue to demand that the Palestinians receive a "real" state.

Some observers associate King Abdullah's alleged relenting with his internal problems: He urgently needs financial support for his kingdom, which has recently been shaken by social protests. This is said to have been promised to him by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a meeting in Mecca.

Jordan's role in Jerusalem

Abdullah was the Arab head of state who was the loudest critic of Trump's Jerusalem decision, while the Saudis were noticeably quiet. In Washington, the king tried at least to obtain guarantees regarding the Jordanian role as administrator of the holy Islamic sites in Jerusalem.

From his Trump praise it can be concluded that he got what he wanted. Often the courtesy that Trump shows his guests is not his ultimate policy. The Jordanian king risks all the more since Jordan has a Palestinian majority of the population and he himself has lost a lot of popularity even in circles loyal to Hashemites.

Jordan is closer to the Palestinian problem than Saudi Arabia, whose young Crown Prince shows absolutely no interest in it. On the other hand, it was King Abdullah who, after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003, was the first to warn of the "Shiite crescent" - the spread of Iranian influence. For him, part of the deal could be the guarantee that Iran will not be allowed to establish a presence in southern Syria. (Gudrun Harrer, June 28, 2018)