Israel’s Problem Isn’t Palestinian Nationalism — It’s Palestinians Themselves

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Border police officers stand in front of Palestinians as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem. (photo: Activestills.org)

Most of the circumstances that made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ripe for resolution — or at least made the peace process attractive to both parties — have all but disappeared over the past decade.

By Noam Sheizaf / +972 Magazine
August 20, 2017


A national movement requires genuine mass engagement in a political vision and a working project that cuts across boundaries of region, clan, and class, and a defined and acknowledged leadership with the legitimacy and representative standing that empowers it to act in its people’s name. This no longer holds for Fatah, the P.A., or the P.L.O.


Many Israelis were likely happy to read The New Yorker article titled “The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement” earlier this month. The piece is of particular interest due to where it was published — the liberal elite’s most prominent magazine, which generally champions the Zionist Left and the American-backed two-state solution.

The identity of its authors is also noteworthy: Ahmad Samih Khalidi was involved in Israeli-Palestinian talks for years; Hussein Agha is a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was charged with holding secret talks with Yitzhak Molcho — Netanyahu’s chief envoy to the negotiations — and Obama’s former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross in the run-up to John Kerry’s peace initiative in 2013.

For the same reason we should also take the authors’ main argument, according to which Abbas is the last remaining Palestinian who can sign a final-status agreement, with a grain of salt. Yet the headline is not misleading, and it joins a long list of publications that rightfully declare the end of the Oslo peace process.

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Jared Kushner’s Mission Impossible

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Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo: ABC News)

Jared Kushner’s quest for peace looks increasingly doomed.

By Adam Taylor / The Washington Post
August 25, 2017


Kushner’s trip has only highlighted the sizable obstacles he faces. Here are five of the biggest:

  1. The Israelis
  2. The Palestinians
  3. The rest of the Middle East
  4. President Trump
  5. Kushner himself

White House adviser Jared Kushner headed back to Israel and the West Bank this week in a renewed push to broker Middle East peace, just one of several responsibilities the administration has handed to President Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law.

Despite Kushner’s unusually varied workload — he’s also tasked with reforming veterans’ care, solving the opioid crisis, something to do with “American innovation,” and more — this is his second trip to the region in the space of just three months. That may be a sign of how keenly the new administration is chasing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which Trump has described as the “ultimate deal.”

A few months ago, there was actually some cautious optimism among Middle East watchers that Trump might be able to make some progress. Sure, he and Kushner don’t have any diplomatic or political experience, but so what? Trump was a self-described dealmaker who didn’t have much of the political baggage of his predecessors. The experts hadn’t done so well finding a solution, so why not give them a try?

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Trump Chases His “Ultimate Deal”

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(photo: Evan Vucci)

What is the basis of optimism In Israel about Donald Trump? For many, it seems to be his apparent endorsement of an “outside-in” peace process.

By Nathan Thrall / The New Yorker
May 22, 2017


The outside-in approach is merely the latest in a series of failed tactics aimed at creating new incentives to make peace, rather than pursuing strategies — withholding financial assistance, to begin with — that steer the parties away from the status quo. Trump frightens Israeli leaders precisely because he is one of the only American politicians they could imagine even considering the latter approach.


Not so long ago, President Donald Trump had backers of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process worried and Israeli settlers and annexationists elated. Many were convinced that a change in U.S. policy toward Israel was imminent, not least because the President’s three main advisers on Israel were modern Orthodox Jews with ties to West Bank settlements. Mr. Trump’s chief negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, is a former West Bank yeshiva student. The new U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, until recently headed a settler fund-raising group. And the family of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, has donated to the institutions of a settlement northeast of Ramallah.

For months after Trump’s election, Palestinians couldn’t manage to arrange so much as a phone call with his senior advisers. And, at a White House press conference in February with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump himself expressed ambivalence about Palestinian statehood. Few doubted Naftali Bennett, the head of the pro-settler Jewish Home Party, when he declared that “the era of a Palestinian state is over.”

Today, however, Palestinians leaders are roundly praising Trump — not just Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, but also Khaled Meshal, the former leader of Hamas. In Trump, they see the rare possibility of an American President who appears capable of challenging the decades-long bipartisan consensus to underwrite Israel’s occupation while making empty promises to end it. The fact that Mr. Trump is a Republican and surrounds himself with lifelong Zionists makes him seem even better positioned to twist Israel’s arm. Palestinians took note when, during the Republican primaries, Trump vowed to be a neutral mediator, refused to blame only one side for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and declined to back down when attacked, even though he had many electoral and financial incentives to do otherwise.

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Trump presidency bodes ill for Israel-Palestine peace process

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Photo: Jim Hollander / EPA

With president-elect likely to be either maximalist pro-Israel or isolationist, the question is whether stagnant process can survive

By Peter Beaumont / The Guardian
November 17, 2016


What is clear, for all the muddle, is that the centre of gravity in US thinking is lurching from the two-state solution as it has been understood by US politicians and diplomats for more than 20 years seemingly towards one of two extremes: a maximalist pro-Israel administration or, equally risky, a minimalist and disconnected isolationist position.


As Donald Trump continues to ponder his choice for secretary of state, and other key foreign policy positions, one thing seems clear: the impact on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians is likely to be serious and retrograde.

The question now is whether the moribund process, which has weathered presidents both Republican and Democrat since it was sealed in 1993 with the aim of securing a two-state solution, can survive the Trump era at all.

The signs are not encouraging. Israel’s far right has greeted Trump’s success with ecstasy, hailing his promises to recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital and move the US embassy to the city, as well as suggestions from his team he would not stand in the way of Israeli settlement construction.

The frontrunners for the secretary of state nomination — Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton — have both been vocal opponents of the idea of a Palestinian state.

Trump’s own pronouncements have swerved wildly between suggesting he would be “neutral” on the question, promising to be Israel’s “best friend,” and even suggesting he could secure the best peace deal ever.

Meanwhile his advisers have fueled a sense of deep confusion by making a series of highly contradictory statements.

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