U.S. Politics/"The Deal of the Century"
Five Democratic senators, including the party’s deputy leader in the chamber and two leading presidential candidates, introduced a resolution decrying any Israeli plan to annex West Bank territory, an apparent shot across the bow at Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election pledge. “Unilateral annexation of portions of the West Bank would jeopardize prospects for a two-state solution, harm Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, threaten Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine Israel’s security,” says the non-binding resolution introduced Thursday.
Yousef Munayyer writes in Newsweek, “It was always hard to take Jared Kushner seriously. Yet what struck me in a recent interview Kushner gave to Axios was how well, despite his utter lack of credibility or experience in diplomacy, his perspective aligns with a long tradition of Zionist and Western attitudes toward the Palestinian people and oppressed people of color in general.”
Jeremy Ben-Ami writes in The Times of Israel, “If this plan never sees the light of day, no one who cares about peace should shed any tears. Based on their actions and statements so far, it’s now 100 percent clear that the effort led by Jared Kushner and David Friedman is not a good-faith attempt to bring about a peaceful, lasting and viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it’s designed to punish and alienate the Palestinians while embracing the hardline positions of the settlement movement — helping the Israeli right to entrench the occupation and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.”
The White House has invited some of President Donald Trump’s key allies in the business world to an event later this month in Bahrain intended to kick-start the administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan.
Debra Shushan, director of policy at American for Peace Now, told Haaretz that “Democratic presidential candidates are getting the memo: While likely voters in the Democratic presidential primaries continue to support Israel, they disapprove of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his anti-peace, pro-occupation policies. The fact that Jewish Americans share this antipathy toward right-wing Israeli policies, which are encouraged by the Trump administration, has given Democratic presidential candidates further license to move in the direction of their primary electorate.”
The United States Senate has confirmed a fellow of a pro-Israel think-tank and former Pentagon official to assume the sensitive post of assistant secretary of state for near Eastern affairs. David Schenker, the Washington Institute’s Aufzien Fellow, was confirmed in his new post on Tuesday, making him the first non-diplomatic figure to take up the post since the 1990s.
“As it pulls troops out of the region, America is also losing interest in Jordan. King Abdullah moans that the administration of Donald Trump is ignoring him as it draws up a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. The king fears that he will be pushed to provide a permanent home for millions of Palestinians, who are the majority in Jordan, making it the de facto Palestinian state. The king also worries that the plan will ignore his historical claim to custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy places or give countries that support Mr Trump, such as Saudi Arabia, a role in the city.”
Music is increasingly becoming a way for young Gazans to channel stress and trauma — Palestinians in Gaza have had to endure violence and human rights abuses for decades, particularly since Israel imposed a blockade on the strip in 2007. But with mounting social, political, and religious restrictions under Hamas rule, opportunities for musicians are limited, as the government prevents groups and businesses that give performers a stage from doing so.
The Haaretz Editorial Board writes, “An early announcement that the Joint List has been reestablished will save the efforts and energies that the parties would otherwise spend on their internal issues and power struggles over who gets which places on the slate, and allow them to focus on the truly vital issues.”