Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, both members of the Trump Administration “peace team,” that the only way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be through the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Egyptian president met in Cairo on Thursday with Kushner, Greenblatt and other senior US officials to discuss the peace plan a day after the team met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
Kushner, taking the lead on the plan, was also accompanied to Jerusalem by Greenblatt, as well as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and US special representative for Iran Brian Hook.
Earlier in the week, the team met in Riyadh with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and other officials, and then in Amman with King Abdullah II and Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi.
The Jordanian king also told Kushner – not for the first time – that any plan must be based on a “two-state solution and include East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.”
It’s no surprise the Hashemite monarch echoed the words of the Egyptian president: the two had met to coordinate their responses prior to Kushner’s arrival in the region. At that time the two agreed they would not back down on their support for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ insistence, again, that Israel relinquish territory won in the war for survival forced upon it by its Arab neighbors in 1967. Back then, there was no Palestinian Authority – in fact, there were no “Palestinians” – they were Jordanian citizens.
Nevertheless, the term “two state solution” coined during the Obama Administration has since become the latest excuse for international and regional diplomats to avoid the unfortunate reality of life taking place in the Palestinian Authority: The much-vaunted “development of infrastructure for statehood” intended to have taken place with millions of dollars of investment channeled into Ramallah from Washington during the Obama years did little to change the nature of government in the Palestinian Authority, other than line the pockets of the top officials, and raise the salaries of those who set forth to murder Israelis.
The Trump administration has made some changes as a result.
But in an exclusive CNN interview this week, Friedman said bluntly that the Trump administration has chosen not to use the term “state” due to the numerous problems that arise with the term.
“We believe in Palestinian autonomy,” Friedman said. “We believe in Palestinian civilian self-governance. We believe that the autonomy should be extended up until the point where it interferes with Israeli security – and it’s a very complicated needle to thread.”
He added that no one is calling for a single-state solution.
“I don’t think anyone responsible in Israel is pushing for a one-state solution. I don’t think there is a serious political movement in Israel for a one-state solution, and I don’t think any of the acts Israel has taken or we’ve taken over the past two years is driving us to that point,” he said, but cautioned: “The last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state. Right now the Palestinian government is so weak.”
“The issue we have is agreeing in advance to a state, because the word, state, conjures up with it so many potential issues that we think it does a disservice for us to use that phrase until we can have a complete exposition of all the rights, all the limitations that will go into Palestinian autonomy,” Friedman told CNN interviewer Christiane Amanpour.
“The economic solution goes hand-in-hand with a political solution.
“But in order to have a political solution you need political institutions,” he pointed out. “You need a transparent economy. You need the rule of law. You need certain freedoms – freedom of the press. You need a justice system. You need to stop concentrating all the Palestinian wealth in the political elites.
“That’s part of what Bahrain was about – trying to help the Palestinians create the institutions necessary for statehood because let’s be clear, okay, the last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state in between Jordan and Israel,” Friedman said.