All US presidents have tried their luck and proposed – or tried to propose – a peace plan between Arabs and Israel, except for Barack Obama who was occupied with other affairs in the region. Meanwhile, Donald Trump seems to be working to accomplish “mission impossible” to reach a peace plan. He assigned this task to one of the closest people to him, his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and to special envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Details on this peace plan are not enough so we will not rush and judge whether it will fail or not. We all know that no one has succeeded so far, to the point that it seems achieving comprehensive peace is as impossible as the rising of the phoenix! Despite this we will remain optimistic as who knows, maybe someone’s efforts will yield results! It’s like winning the lottery - it’s possible to win although chances are very slight.
The conditions for success are currently present. The regional situation specifically is more suitable than the days of Camp David in the 1970s, the Madrid Peace Conference in the 1990s and the days of the famous Oslo Agreement. It’s certainly better than the circumstances of later peace talks in Taba, Wye River, Arabah and others.
Time for a plan
The current political atmosphere is suitable for a peace plan thanks to the major changes the Arab region witnessed. The most hostile figures who sabotaged previous peace plans are no longer part of the game. They include Saddam Hussein, Moammar Qaddafi, Bashar al-Assad and leftist Palestinian factions. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood was ousted from power in Egypt and weakened in Sudan. The governance of the Iranian Ayatollah is disturbed from within and it’s now involved in Syria and Iraq and linked to the nuclear agreement and to conditionally lifting sanctions. I will not note the exit of terror groups, like al-Qaeda and ISIS, because they were never part of the formula and they never sought to sabotage previous projects.
This major absence of parties which oppose peace does not mean that the new Arab atmosphere is currently enthusiastic to reach a reconciliation. Arabs are simply not thinking about it and not talking about it because they are occupied with the three dangerous wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen. This is in addition to large-scale tensions and confrontations in countries neighboring war-torn states.
This non-hostile or indifferent atmosphere regarding peace in Palestine is not enough without a fair peace plan. So is there anyone preparing a real peace plan which resembles that of Bill Clinton which many, including skeptics and parties that oppose peace, approved of? That real chance towards peace was not seized as a result of the then-Palestinian president’s reluctance and the Israelis’ rejection to propose it again later.
This is a difficult task for Kushner, a young ambitious man with special relations with Jewish parties in Israel and with a number of Arab leaders. The Palestinian cause is no longer an urgent matter despite the continuous suffering of the Palestinian people and mainly because the world is busy with Syria, Iran, Libya and ISIS. However, Kushner put it on top of the president’s list of concerns. Everyone is waiting to know more about the details of Trump’s plan for peace. I am among the skeptics of the possibility of reaching the “impossible deal” as world leaders have failed to achieve one for over 50 years. It will not be easy especially after President Trump decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem for nothing in return from Israel. Despite this, we will wait until we hear more about the plan’s details and judge it then.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.
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