Yesterday I began my posting with a discussion of what the Trump “peace team” of Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt might be seeking during their scheduled visits to several Middle East countries this week. The focus, according to administration statements, was on seeking the optimal timing for releasing that “peace plan.”
Now the focus seems to have switched from timing to attempting to change the circumstances, and we have definitely reached “bang my head against the wall” territory.
According to a report this morning:
“The Trump administration is trying to convince Arab monarchies in the Gulf to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects in Gaza…
“The move is an attempt to calm the security situation in the coastal enclave and generate momentum before the White House presents its Middle East peace plan.”
Now Kushner and Greenblatt are truly nice guys. They seem sincere in their efforts to coax peace along, and I am convinced they care about Israel. It would appear, however, that they are in way over their heads, without a genuine understanding of the situation here.
We can begin with the erroneous assumption that pouring millions into Gaza “will calm the security situation and create momentum.” I’m not even sure precisely what “momentum” they have in mind – since they are talking about Gaza and not PA territory.
I’ve already written extensively about the fact that it’s erroneous to believe that improving the economic situation will bring more peaceful behavior. Terrorist behavior is a function of ideology, not poverty. And since Kushner and Greenblatt are not talking about getting rid of Hamas, there is no reason to believe a peaceful situation can be created by pumping money into the area.
In fact, if many millions are poured into Gaza, it is pretty much a sure thing that at least some of it will be siphoned off by Hamas, no matter what presumed safeguards are put in place. This means Hamas will have more to spend on its devious plans – plans that undermine peace.
But let’s leave this aside for the moment. One of the reasons that the people of Gaza are suffering in a bad humanitarian situation right now is because the Palestinian Authority has withheld funds and services it is supposed to provide. There are salaries the PA is supposed to pay that are not being paid.
The PA has refused to pay the tax on diesel intended for Gaza to generate electricity and has been reluctant to guarantee medical costs for elderly or seriously ill seeking care in Israel.
Without fear of contradiction, we can say that PA leaders (pictured below is the Palestine National Council – legislative body of the PLO) have zero concern for the wellbeing of the average Palestinian Arab. Where Gaza is concerned, their actions are motivated by a desire to bring down Hamas, regardless of the cost to the people.
But apparently, there is no intention on the part of the peace team to demand that the PA do its part and adjust its policies to help alleviate suffering in Gaza.
There is no attempt that I am reading about to hold the PA responsible in any way.
And since the PA cares not a whit about the suffering of the people, and certainly is not eager for Hamas to have it easier, it is not clear at all why the peace team imagines that making the situation less strained in Gaza will help to bring the PA leaders on board for negotiations.
If there is a “connect” here, I seem to be losing it.
Admittedly, the details of that “peace plan” have not yet been released. But in broad terms we can safely say that the “peace team” hopes to bring the PA into negotiations in order to create some permanent Palestinian Arab political entity, whether a state or quasi-state.
And so finally we have to ask why the team envisions that this would be a good thing: elevating the political status of the Palestinian Authority, an entity whose leaders – dealing in self-serving machinations – have already demonstrated disregard of the people?
What we are seeing is an attempt to improve the situation in Gaza, not purely as a humanitarian gesture, but to calm things so that a peace process might in theory move ahead — a process that would benefit the Palestinian Authority, which contributed to the deterioration of Gaza and has assumed no responsibility for ameliorating the situation.
As I said:
Also in my last posting, I considered at length the horrible situation adjacent to Gaza, with the fires caused by Arab terrorists launching incendiary kites and balloons. There was additionally the issue of those launching explosive devices.
Some questions were raised as to the legality of shooting those launchers.
Now I have answers, thanks to international lawyer Alan Baker, and I end my brief posting here by sharing relevant portions of his statement:
“Incendiary kites and balloons have ignited vast swathes of agricultural land in Israel, destroyed crops, and endangered Israeli residents. The International Criminal Court Statute defines as a war crime ‘extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.’
“From the viewpoint of international humanitarian law and accepted norms of humanity, placing Palestinian civilians, and especially women and children, at the forefront of violent demonstrations and attacks on the border fence as human shields to conceal the presence of Hamas terrorists is a violation of several international treaties protecting children and prohibiting their involvement in warfare.
“Weaponizing kites and balloons by attaching explosive devices with the intention that they will explode upon landing or when found by Israeli civilians is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, notably the 1997 Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings. Moreover, the 2001 Conventional Weapons Convention prohibits the use of incendiary weapons.”
Please share this broadly – people need to know the truth.
Much more soon, undoubtedly.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.