Kushner: Trump Peace Plan to address Israel’s borders, call for united Palestinian entity

February 26, 2019

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei hugs Syrian President Assad in Tehran yesterday. It was the first time the two dictators met publicly since they started to massacre and then ethnically cleanse Syria’s majority Sunni Arab population into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey (and in many cases, on into Europe), eight years ago. (Photo provided to media by the Office of The Supreme Leader.)

 

CONTENTS

1. Kushner: Trump Plan to address Israel’s borders, call for united Palestinian entity
2. Has Netanyahu already agreed to sign on?
3. Bypassing Abbas if needs be
4. Cautious welcome
5. Assad publically meets Iran’s Khamenei for first time since Syria war began
6. Head of MI6 “visits Israel to discuss ongoing Iranian nuclear threat”
7. Britain to ban Hizbullah’s political wing, classify it as terrorist group
8. Leaders from EU, Arab League hold first-ever joint summit

 

KUSHNER: TRUMP PEACE PLAN TO ADDRESS ISRAEL’S BORDERS, CALL FOR UNITED PALESTINIAN ENTITY

[Notes by Tom Gross]

Donald Trump’s senior aide Jared Kushner told Sky News Arabia yesterday evening that the forthcoming Trump peace plan – the details of which remain a closely guarded secret – will address all the main issues of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including borders.

Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law and who last year successfully brokered the agreement between Mexico and the US, as well as the initial talks between North Korea and the US, also told Sky News Arabia in Abu Dhabi that the White House would like to see a unified Palestinian government, instead of having the West Bank and Gaza ruled by rival Palestinian factions.

“We want to see Palestinians under one leadership that will allow them to live in dignity,” Kushner, who rarely gives interviews, told the pan-Arab TV network. “We are trying to come up with realistic and fair solutions that are relevant to the year 2019,” he added.

Kushner said the plan would include freedom of opportunity and religion and increased “freedom of movement for people and goods.” He said it would economically benefit the wider Arab region, not just the Palestinian economy.

Video clips from Kushner’s interview here: https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/jared-kushner-says-us-peace-plan-promises-border-security-and-freedoms-for-all-1.830320

 

HAS NETANYAHU ALREADY AGREED TO SIGN ON?

The Trump plan is due to be released after Israel’s election on April 9 and it is understood that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have already signaled his tentative agreement to Trump.

Kushner told Sky News Arabia that Iran was the main obstacle to stability in the Middle East and to a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Iran continues to back terror groups in Gaza, Syria, southern Lebanon, and elsewhere.

 

BYPASSING ABBAS IF NEEDS BE

Officially, the Palestinian Authority has refused to speak to the Trump administration for over a year now, but from discussions I had last week with someone who is close to Kushner, it appears that if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won’t discuss the peace plan or tries to avoid providing details of the plan to the Palestinian public, the Trump administration will release full details of the plan in Arabic to the Palestinian people directly. (The only previous Palestinian ruler in history, Yasser Arafat – at a time when household internet access was still limited – refused to let the Palestinian public know details of the 2000 Clinton/Barak peace offer, and Abbas refused to let Palestinians know details of the 2007-8 Bush/Olmert peace plan.)

Abbas, now aged 83, is currently serving the 15th year of the four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority. He was elected (in a rigged election) in January 2005. His administration has been brutal and corrupt (though perhaps less so than other Arab dictators) and Abbas is detested by most of those whom he supposedly serves.

 

CAUTIOUS WELCOME

I also attended an off-the-record briefing this month with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, and the person who has worked with Kushner most closely on the plan. One of the other attendees was a leading Israeli left-wing peace activist and she told me afterwards that she was cautiously optimistic by what she heard, especially because unlike previous plans, the Trump administration is intending to unveil a comprehensive plan to the public in one go, rather than aim for an incremental ‘road map’ type plan.

See also: Trump plan allegedly “creates Palestinian state with east Jerusalem capital”

***

(For Arab speakers on this list who might be interested, I was also on Sky News Arabia last week, discussing European matters: https://youtu.be/_xxRvdJHkV0 .)

 

ASSAD PUBLICALLY MEETS IRAN’S KHAMENEI FOR FIRST TIME SINCE SYRIA WAR BEGAN

Syrian state television reported last night that Syrian President Bashar Assad made his first public visit yesterday to his closest ally, Iran, since the start of the Syrian war eight years ago.

(It is believed there has been at least one clandestine visit by Assad during the war, as Iran continued to orchestrate the bombardment of Syria’s majority Sunni Arab population and the ethnic cleaning of Syrian Sunnis into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, and in many cases, on into Europe.)

Syrian TV showed Assad meeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran yesterday, and said the two leaders (dictators) agreed “to continue cooperation at all levels for the interests of the two friendly nations.”

Assad also said he had come to Teheran to pay his respects to Khamenei on the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

(For a related dispatch, see: Forty years on, gays are still hanged and women repressed.)

 

HEAD OF MI6 “VISITS ISRAEL TO DISCUSS ONGOING IRANIAN NUCLEAR THREAT”

Alex Younger, the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence, “secretly visited” Israel last week to discuss the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear program, according to a news report on Israel’s Channel 13 news on Friday.

Younger reportedly met with the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and other Israeli intelligence officials.

The report said that international intelligence agencies, including the American, British and Israeli are “100% certain” that Iran is still trying to develop nuclear weapons by “preparing its nuclear infrastructure in an accelerated fashion,” in violation of the 2015 Obama-Kerry-EU “appeasement” deal with the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s nuclear efforts were also the subject of discussions among participants at last week’s Munich Security Conference, and at the Warsaw summit between Arab countries and Israel two weeks ago.

 

BRITAIN TO BAN HIZBULLAH’S POLITICAL WING, CLASSIFY IT AS TERRORIST GROUP

At the urging of the Arab world and Israel, among others, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced yesterday that Britain will end the fiction that the military and political wings of the Iranian orchestrated and financed Lebanese terror group Hizbullah are distinct.

The UK had already proscribed Hizbullah’s external security unit (i.e. the wing of Hizbullah that has carried out terror attacks in Argentina, Bulgaria, Thailand, Africa and elsewhere) and its military wing in 2001 and 2008 respectively, but said yesterday it would outlaw its political arm too.

“Hizbullah is continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East – and we are no longer able to distinguish between their already banned military wing and the political party. Because of this, I have taken the decision to proscribe the group in its entirety,” Javid said.

Hizbullah has also carried out a wave of attacks on Sunni civilians across Syria in recent years.

Hizbullah is already deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and most Arab countries. Israel yesterday urged other European countries to follow Britain’s lead.

By contrast, Britain’s opposition Labour Party had attempted to prevent the ban, sending a leaflet last month at Jeremy Corbyn’s initiative to lawmakers suggesting Hizbullah could be useful for peace efforts.

Hizbullah was set up in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The British ban will come into force on Friday subject to parliament’s approval. It will mean that in future anyone who is a member of Hizbullah or aids the group will be committing a criminal offence with a potential sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

In the past, Labour leader Corbyn described Hizbullah (and Hamas) as his “friends”, remarks he later tried to backtrack from.

Ansaroul Islam, an armed group active in Burkina Faso, and Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, an Islamic group based in North Africa, will also be included on the list of organizations set to be banned by the UK on Friday.

 

LEADERS FROM EU, ARAB LEAGUE HOLD FIRST-EVER JOINT SUMMIT

Leaders from the European Union and Arab League met in the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday for the first-ever joint summit between leaders of the blocs.

Among issues discussed were the fight against terrorism and prevention of illegal migration.

European leaders asked Egyptian President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi to start detaining migrants leaving Libya and return them to the African mainland. In return, the EU reportedly offered Cairo various economic deals, the promotion of tourism to Sinai and a muting of criticism of Sisi’s (abysmal) human rights record.

 

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