President Trump has amazingly managed to cut through 100 years of Arab-Jewish antagonism by hosting a conference at the White House on 13 March with representatives from 20 countries - including Israel and seven Arab states.
Ostensibly called to discuss solutions to the worsening humanitarian and economic conditions in Gaza – this Conference also has very significant ramifications for Trump’s soon-to-be-released proposals to end the 100 years-old Arab-Jewish conflict.
Convened by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and members of the National Security Council (NSC) staff and the Department of State – the Conference was attended by representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, the Office of the Quartet, and the following countries: Bahrain, Canada, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
Shamefully the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) - claiming to be the sole spokesperson for the Gazan Arabs since 1974 - could not set aside its enmity for Trump to attend this truly-international Conference designed to relieve the hell-hole that Gaza has become since Israel’s unilateral Disengagement in 2005.
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas could well rue his decision to boycott this Conference following his virulent reaction to Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy there in May on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
The White House Readout makes no bones about where Trump wanted this Conference to go:
“The Administration of President Donald J. Trump believes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza require immediate attention. The situation in Gaza must be solved for humanitarian reasons and for ensuring the security of Egypt and Israel. It is also a necessary step toward reaching a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, including Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank.”
The PLO no-show at the White House could see Abbas being excluded from any new negotiations with Israel under Trump’s eagerly-awaited proposals. Trump does not take kindly to such PLO grandstanding. After unsuccessful negotiations between Israel and the PLO spanning the last 25 years – Abbas’s latest Presidential rebuff is the height of arrogance and stupidity.
Trump’s “ultimate deal” could see Israel negotiating with an Arab delegation to replace the PLO - comprising White House attendees Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrein, UAE, and Oman – Arab States that have no diplomatic relations with Israel - but who had the courage to publicly meet with – and talk to - Israel at the Conference.
They would join the other two Arab States that attended the Conference – Egypt and Jordan – who have enjoyed diplomatic relations with Israel since respectively signing peace treaties in 1979 and 1994.
For far too long the PLO has sought to define the 100 years old unresolved Arab-Jewish conflict as one involving only “Palestinians” and “Israelis” - when no “Israelis” existed until 1948 and no “Palestinians” existed until 1964.
This false PLO narrative has been swallowed hook line and sinker by the United Nations and the European Union. Their on-going support has enabled the PLO to remain sole Arab negotiator with Israel over the last 25 years – with Arab League backing - seeking to create a second Palestinian Arab State - in addition to Jordan – in former Mandatory Palestine.
Trump’s Conference has junked such thinking, shown there are seven other Arab interlocutors ready to negotiate with Israel under American auspices and seen the PLO commit political suicide.
Those who continue to pillory Trump and underestimate his unique skills as an incredible circuit breaker are becoming increasingly irrelevant.