The Ramadan connection and the Trump-Kushner Middle East ‘peace’ plan


Resilience in the face of loss. A Palestinian boy sits on a chair as Israeli bulldozers demolish a school site in the village of Yatta, south of Hebron in 2018 (AFP)

It seems odd to even mention the word “peace” at this point of time, when Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip have been engaging in some of the most intense attacks in recent years.

But we recently got a date of sorts for the Trump-Kushner Middle East “peace” plan.

We don’t have a date for when it will bring peace, which is hardly surprising considering the plan isn’t meant for peace but to call time on any expectations of peace.

Anyway, here’s what we know about the way it’s all headed. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, has said the administration will “start unveiling” its plan after Ramadan. That means after June 5, when Ramadan ends. Everyone’s gearing up for the great reveal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already announced Israel will be naming a town on the Golan Heights after Donald Trump. This suggests Mr Netanyahu knows exactly what is in Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, and that he enthusiastically approves.  The Palestinian leaders also know what’s not in the plan. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyah recently told US Senator Mitt Romney he would not engage “in any political process that does not meet the minimum of Palestinian rights, which include an independent and sovereign Palestinian state along 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and a just resolution to the refugees issue.”

The point about this peace plan is it’s not got much of a point. It doesn’t set out to be just or fair. It doesn’t intend to be just or fair. It won’t be just or fair.

The Trump administration believes it can push the plan along by sheer brute force as well as something scarcely believable – strategic secrecy.

Even King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country will be deeply affected by any change to the regional status quo, has apparently been kept in the dark. The King told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month that he had been told nothing about how the plan proposed to divide Israeli and Palestinian territory. This is extraordinary considering Jordan borders the West Bank, has a majority Palestinian population and has a special status with respect to holy sites in Jerusalem. According to an unnamed Jordanian official quoted by Axios, “His Majesty was asked about the plan and said he did not yet see it and therefore cannot comment. He also believes that an economic plan without a political one is not sufficient.”

Of course no one can say if there really is only an economic plan. Apparently, only “five or six people in the entire US government have seen the political side of the plan”. That’s according to Axios.

By a process of deduction and elimination, those who know the political side of the so-called Middle East “peace” plan would be:

  1. Donald Trump, President

  2. Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and czar of ‘diplomacy’

  3. Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, wife of Jared, and  czarina of American outreach to the whole world

  4. Jason Greenblatt, formerly executive vice president to the Trump Organisation, and Jared’s side-kick on the Middle East peace plan

  5. David Friedman, formerly lawyer to the President and now US ambassador to Israel

Five people! Cooking up a potage that will be too rich – in irony and cruelty – to stomach. Perhaps there is a Ramadan connection, after all.