In Unpacked, Brookings experts provide analysis of Trump administration policies and news.
THE ISSUE: President Trump wants to make the “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has put his son in law Jared Kushner in charge of achieving it.
Kushner will have a real challenge when it comes to being effective especially because the objective circumstances for Israeli and Palestinian peacemaking are very, very dismal.
THE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Because Kushner is seen as President Trump’s trusted confidant, the whole region will understand that he speaks for the president.
- Both Arab and Israeli leadership could take advantage of Kushner’s lack of experience in Middle East policy by employing tactics that will make it extremely difficult for him to move forward with a deal.
- The dismal circumstance surrounding Israeli and Palestinian peacemaking and failures on both sides to fulfill their commitments to the two state solution will also make it challenging for Kushner to be effective.
- There are three ways President Trump, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas could help pave the way for a negotiated agreement:
- Settlement activity would need to be constrained.
- The Israeli government could help the Palestinian economy grow in the West Bank by enabling construction and development in areas that have been off-limits for the Palestinians.
- The Sunni Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (the “Arab quartet”) – could be encouraged to join the process to provide cover and support for Palestinian concessions.
- These efforts might bear fruit because these four Arab states and Israel share a common interest in combating the threat from Iran’s hegemonic aspirations in their part of the Middle East.
The political point is that each side of this conflict has their own narrative about the status of the Gaza Strip and Israel’s role. The argument is not whether this is a border. The argument is whether Israel is occupying Gaza.
The announcement of the [US] embassy move [to Jerusalem] marked the effective end of the old peace process. Now, it would be very hard if not impossible for any Palestinian leadership to return to an American-led peace process. Jerusalem is a core issue for both sides. The Palestinians have said a state without Jerusalem as their capital is not a state worth having.