US President Donald Trump’s Assistant and Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt resigned on August 5, only a month before the supposed long-awaited unveiling of the Deal of the Century. The surprise move precipitated of course a tweet from the President.
“After almost 3 years in my Administration, Jason Greenblatt will be leaving to pursue work in the private sector. Jason has been a loyal and great friend and fantastic lawyer,” President Trump said on Twitter. “His dedication to Israel and to seeking peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t be forgotten.”
Greenblatt’s resignation came a week after he contradicted what Trump said about the timing of the release of the long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East. Despite Trump’s hint at the G7 summit in France that parts of the plan may be released before the Israeli elections take place in September, the envoy ruled this out. “We have decided that we will not be releasing the peace vision (or parts of it) prior to the Israeli election,” tweeted Greenblatt on August 28.
Of course, this was not the first time the White House had announced a delay of the plan. In April, Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner pointed out that the administration had been preparing to unveil the plan at the end of last year, but that the rollout was interrupted by the Israeli election.
In fact, he said that the plan would be presented after the month of Ramadan in June. Yet, more than two months have passed, and little is known about the plan, demonstrating the US administration’s reluctance to reveal the political part of the proposal.
The widespread resistance to the “Deal of the Century” across the Arab world may have signaled to the administration that the plan will not be accepted.
Greenblatt’s resignation is the latest indication that the peace plan will fail. The widespread resistance to the “Deal of the Century” across the Arab world may have signaled to the administration that the plan will not be accepted.
Arguably, the first step of the peace plan, which was introduced in the “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop that took place in Bahrain’s Manama in June did not bring the outcome that the US administration may have hoped for. In addition to the low-ranking Arab officials who attended, the only Middle Eastern countries that openly supported the plan or urged that the plan even be given a chance were the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, the two Gulf countries have been criticized by the Palestinians, who were united in rejecting the idea of “money in exchange for land.”
What the US administration fails to see is that its dealings with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have taken the peace process backward rather than forward.
What the US administration fails to see is that its dealings with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have taken the peace process backward rather than forward. The policies made by previous administrations have been dashed. The firm commitment to a two-state solution no longer exists. The years of efforts that were made prior to Trump’s era have been wasted. The envoy himself, seemingly, has realized that his mission is increasingly becoming impossible and therefore, decided to take a step back although there is no clear official clarification yet on the reason of his departure.
Even if the US administration were not supportive of a two-state solution, it should have been ready to present an alternative, which has not been articulated much less announced. Trump may have thought that what he is doing would guarantee him the support of American Jews, but the fact that in the 2016 election, they preferred Hillary Clinton over him suggests the opposite. That is unlikely to change, especially after Trump’s remarks characterizing American Jews who vote for the Democrats as “disloyal.”
Moreover, in June, ten progressive Jewish groups reportedly sent a letter calling on House leadership to vote on House Resolution 326, which supports the two-state solution—a longstanding US policy Trump has abandoned. This unusual move demonstrates that the two-state solution—the most internationally supported solution to this conflict—is still backed by many in the US.
In addition, as the US approaches the 2020 presidential elections, it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will still go ahead with revealing the political part of the plan.
In addition, as the US approaches the 2020 presidential elections, it remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will still go ahead with revealing the political part of the plan. During reelection campaigns, previous administrations have usually tried to avoid dealing with sensitive topics that may impact their chances of winning an election. Instead, the focus is generally on the popular and less controversial issues that will help them gain more votes.
But this scenario has been ruled out by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said just hours after Greenblatt’s resignation that he thought the Trump administration would unveil the plan in the coming weeks, thereby setting a new time frame for its release. What remains to be seen is whether the US administration will announce another delay.
Even if the plan is released, after the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the declaration of the city as the capital of Israel, the elimination of support for the UNRWA, the suggestion to dismantle it, the declaration of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and now Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley, the removal of the Palestinian territories from the State Department’s website, and the argument that Israel has the right to annex additional portions of the West Bank, we can expect little progress.
What is unfortunate is that whatever administration succeeds Trump will be spending a lot of time cleaning up the mess that he has made both in the region and with respect to the US’s image.