The U.S. delegation to the Middle East, headed by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, which met today with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will likely to do more harm than good unless the U.S. is prepared to confront Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has, until now, ignored Trump’s demands to cease incitement again Israel. While Jews were accused in vain of desecrating Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, Palestinian children were brainwashed with hatred and the PA continued to venerate mass murderers by renaming mosques, city squares and schools in their honor.
Abbas never followed through on his recent declaration that all joint Palestinian-Israeli security efforts would cease. Had such a plan been implemented, his government would have collapsed, or its rival, Hamas, would have seized control. Now Abbas is condemning the United States, describing it as biased and unfit to serve as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel, on the other hand, recognizes that the disorder in the Trump White House is leading to mixed messages regarding the peace process.
While U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been exceptionally firm in her support for Israel, recent statements issued by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been particularly disturbing. Among other things, he expressed a conciliatory tone when informing the Senate that Palestinians had promised to end their practice of payments to families of terrorists killed by Israel (a statement the Palestinians immediately denied). In July, the State Department published a report praising Abbas for addressing the problem of Palestinian incitement in a "significant way." Such pronouncements reflect the differences of opinion within the administration at a time when Trump is distracted by the chaos surrounding him. Luckily, Tillerson was, to a great extent, excluded from peace negotiations.
Matters are further complicated by the fact that both Palestinians and Israelis are entangled in their own internal upheavals. The Palestinians understand that Abbas' time in power is running short, and maneuvering by those seeking to replace him is already being felt. At the same time, the Israelis face ongoing campaigns to indict Netanyahu on charges of corruption, but any pressure on him by the opposition to make concessions to the PA would merely be laughed off.
In this regard, it is unlikely that Trump's representatives will make much progress with regard to the negotiations. Kushner recently admitted that he feared it would be impossible to find a realistic solution to the current impasse. How will Americans react when Abbas signals his consent to negotiations? Will they once again take part in the farce of a "peace process" that will largely be ignored? Will Trump publicly announce an end to the protective cover given to belligerent Palestinian leaders, and call on the world to stop providing them aid that feeds terror?
The Americans must present an economic infrastructure plan that will improve quality of life for Palestinians, few of whom have benefited from the massive amounts of international aid stolen by their leaders. So too should they encourage moderate Arab states to promote new leadership willing to reach a peace deal. But if instead the U.S. chooses to ignore reality in the name of a false peace, it will be Israel that will have to deal with the consequences.