Was the Bahrain Conference Designed to Fail?
I believe that the Bahrain economic workshop was designed to “fail.” And the Palestinians are playing the roles assigned to them by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt perfectly.
The Trump team knows how Palestinian leaders act — far better than the professional diplomats who kept trying to entice them with more and more Israeli concessions, which only make the Palestinians increasingly intransigent.
Kushner and Greenblatt have been spending lots of time speaking with Gulf leaders, the people who have been the biggest funders of the Palestinians over the decades. They know quite well what most of the professionals have been pretending isn’t true: the rich Arab nations have been sick of the Palestinian issue since even before the Arab Spring.
These leaders have seen the Palestinians turn down offer after offer. They’ve seen them refuse to even talk with Israel. They’ve seen how they cannot solve the Fatah/Hamas crisis.
The Gulf leaders never intended to be a permanent welfare source for a dysfunctional quasi-state. They want to invest their money, not throw it away. Over the past 10 years, maybe more, they have publicly been pretending to fully support the Palestinians — and have privately been reneging on their pledges.
Other Arab states have been burned by the Palestinians as well. Even before the conference, when the Palestinians went on their full court press to get every Arab nation to boycott it, Jordanian media outlets close to the king said that there was no harm in attending the workshop. Egypt has been trying to mediate between Hamas and Fatah for years, to no avail but much frustration.
But the professional diplomats only hear the Arab states say how the Palestine issue is the most important one in the region — a mantra that has been meant to cover up the problems each Arab country has at home and sometimes between themselves. The professionals believed it.
Kushner and Greenblatt know better. They have been able to cut through the bull, helped a great deal by the fact that the Gulf states felt so abandoned by the Obama administration’s disastrous tilt towards Iran.
If there is one thing that was a sure bet, it was that Mahmoud Abbas would instruct his government to boycott this conference. And that’s what happened.
I believe the conference is meant to make the wedge between the Palestinian leaders and most of the Arab leaders explicit. Here is a workshop where some $50 billion in aid is being offered — with no strings attached — as a vision of what could be if the Palestinians would just accept Israel, and actually accept a Palestinian state.
Palestinian intransigence, the most reliable force in the region, is what can pave the way for Gulf states to finally drop the linkage between the moribund “peace process” and having closer relations with Israel. The Gulf states know that they need to modernize, diversify from oil, and invest in education and high tech. They know that Israel would love to help them.
Given a choice of who would help them more, Israel or “Palestine,” there isn’t even a question.
The predictable Palestinian refusal to have anything to do with progress is part of the bigger peace plan that the Trump administration is working on — the real peace between Israel and the Arab world.
The world, and the diplomats of the previous era, have been the victims of the tunnel vision that the only important peace is that between Israel and Palestinian leaders, who have shown time and time again that they don’t want peace at all. These myths have driven the US, EU, and UN’s thinking since before Oslo.
Real peace is not based on artificial and arbitrary demands by a spoiled welfare state that believes that the world owes them unconditional funding and support forever. Real peace is based on shared interests. Real peace is one that all of the parties actually want, rather than where one party uses the word “peace” as a means to politically pressure and destroy the other.
Israel and the Arab states already have a de facto peace that has been getting better, despite the worsening relations Israel has had with Palestinian leaders. Linkage has been shown to be a myth.
Only when Palestinians understand that the world has changed and that they can no longer rely on automatic, reflexive support from their fellow Arab states, can they even start to consider going back to the table with Israel.
Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down, you already knew that.