Behind the plan

“Let’s stop focusing on tired talking points and throwing more money at the same things we have been doing since 1993. It is time to realistically evaluate what works and what does not.”

October 9, 2018 20:06
3 minute read.
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy.

Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy.. (photo credit: JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)


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President Donald Trump has the world in suspense. Everywhere in the Middle East, and in capitals around the world, everyone awaits the unveiling, the roll out, of America’s so-called “Deal of the Century.” What is the president’s peace plan, all are wondering? What is he going to throw out there that, we’ve been told, is way different than anything that’s ever come before?

It’s got everyone guessing, and there have been hints and unconfirmed reports along the way about this point or that – this neighborhood’s borders, or that country’s direct involvement, etc. – but nobody is sure what’s in it, and if they do know, they’re not talking.

But even while we don’t know the details, we do have an idea about what the US is thinking – from the man who’s helping to craft that peace plan: Jason Greenblatt.

Two weeks ago, Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations addressed the semi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The AHLC – established on October 1, 1993, less than a month after the signing of the Oslo Accords – is a 15-member committee of countries and organizations that serves as the central body bringing together international efforts to finance aid to the Palestinians. If anything in the Trump peace plan will include money, then what Greenblatt had to say to the committee has extreme importance.

“Let’s stop focusing on tired talking points and throwing more money at the same things we have been doing since 1993,” he said. “It is time to realistically evaluate what works and what does not.”

Greenblatt was very clear: the US is fed up with bad Palestinian governance, and will no longer throw good money after bad: “We could continue the same pattern for years to come, but that would be folly. Clearly, none of our financial assistance is getting Israelis and Palestinians closer to a solution.”

His speech did not get a lot of notice, having taken place the same day as the Kavanaugh hearings and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Iran nuclear-warehouse speech to the General Assembly. But under the radar, Greenblatt laid out to the committee one point that bears noting, for it spells out what he believes is a central stumbling block to further progress on any kind of peace deal.

Greenblatt first attacked Hamas, telling the Ad Hoc committee that despite “decades of work [and] billions of dollars, euros, shekels, and dinars donated… life continues to get worse in Gaza.”

He slammed the leadership in Gaza for having driven the Strip “to a state of utter desperation,” and for year by year taking the people living there “further and further away from the potential for a better life.”

Then Greenblatt turned to the PA:

“There is an old philosophy that Palestinian economic cooperation with Israel, which would lead to an improved quality of life for the Palestinian people, must be avoided. This philosophy is based on the notion that such cooperation and improvement of Palestinian lives and their economic situation would cause apathy for Palestinians’ national aspirations. This old philosophy – the anti-normalization philosophy – has never worked, and it will never work. It is time for the Palestinian leadership to recognize that reality.”

The US gives nearly a quarter of the annual global funding for peace and reconciliation activities between Israelis and Palestinians – a total of $6.3 billion since 1994 in aid to support the Palestinian people.

But no more, he said, would the United States “use the hard-earned tax dollars of its citizens to subsidize ‘anti-normalization’ – a failed political philosophy. The PA can work with all interested parties, including Israel, to help all Palestinians thrive and prosper and, at the same time, continue to advocate their political positions.”

We live with hope that the Palestinian leadership can move forward and write a new headline, as we wrote here last week. And as we await details of the Deal of the Century, we salute Jason Greenblatt for telling it like it is.

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