President Trump’s senior Middle East peace negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt sent a very important message to the Palestinians via opinion pieces in The Washington Post and CNN: The United States will no longer maintain a fictive reality for them and immunize them from the rough and tumble of international affairs. America is willing to help, but the Palestinians will have to face the fact that violence as a policy is counterproductive and will lead to real consequences.
Thus, Kushner and Greenblatt write, matter of factly, that foreign investors are not willing to invest in Gaza because of Hamas-initiated violence and that they are rethinking their plan for rebuilding Gaza as the first step in a plan for a peace arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Provocations will not be rewarded with aid,” they write, rejecting the notion that the U.S. will try to smooth things over. To the contrary, Hamas must evince “a clear intent for a peaceful relationship with their neighbors” before investment money will materialize.
The Palestinians, of course say, Israel is the root cause of the violence because of the long-term blockade it has imposed on Gaza. But the Trump envoys are having none of that. They write that Hamas has continually attacked Israel with “rockets, mortars, terror tunnels, kite bombs and other weapons of aggression” and that the blockade was imposed as a response to earlier Hamas terror attacks.
Although Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s direct focus is Hamas, what they write applies to Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority as well. Abbas and the PA are currently refusing to even talk to Kushner and Greenblatt because of the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the U.S.’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
These two developments, though, were merely reflective of historic reality which earlier American presidents were unwilling to acknowledge out of fear of alienating the Arab world and the Palestinians in particular. President Trump, though, recognized that ignoring history only served to foster unrealistic expectations of American accommodation and a better deal down the road, thereby encouraging Palestinian recalcitrance.
We see the current Trump Administration posture as the most promising approach to achieving peace in the Middle East and trust that the Trump administration will stay the course. That is another reason to hope that President Trump is not weakened in the midterm elections come November.