Trump Peace Propsals

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THIS TOPIC IS DIVIDED INTO TWO PARTS


Part 1  MODERN HISTORY OF ISRAEL

Part 2  JEWISH EXILES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES and

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES


THE TRUMP PEACE PROPOSALS, 2018

Kushner said
Pushing
to Close UNRWA,
 
End Refugee Status for Palestinian Millions

Jared Kushner Criticizes Abbas, Questioning His Ability to Make Peace

11 Countries
Speed Up Funding
for Palestinians
After US Cuts


KUSHNER SAID PUSHING TO CLOSE UNRWA,
END REFUGEE STATUS FOR PALESTINIAN MILLIONS

Report quotes Palestinian official saying US peace envoys asked Jordan to move toward halting UNRWA's operations there as part of wider apparent efforts to shutter agency

Times of Israel, TOI Staff, The Associated Press contributed to this report. 4 August 2018


Senior White House adviser
Jared Kushner in the East Room
of the White House in Washington,

May 18, 2018. (Susan Walsh/AP)








Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, has been pushing to remove the refugee status of millions of Palestinians as part of an apparent effort to shutter the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, a report on Friday said.

Under Trump, the US has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, with the US president linking the decision to the Palestinians’ refusal to speak with his administration after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to emails published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine, Kushner has been highly critical of UNRWA, with he and other White House officials weighing its closure as part of their peace efforts.

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email dated January 11, just days before the US froze $65 million in funding for UNRWA. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”

“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” he added in the email, according to Foreign Policy.

Uniquely, UNRWA grants refugee status to all descendants of Palestinians who left or fled Israel with the establishment of the state in 1948, swelling the number to an estimated five million at present, when the number of actual refugees from that conflict is estimated to be in the low tens of thousands. In peace talks, the Palestinian leadership has always demanded a “right of return” to Israel for these millions — an influx that, if accepted by Israel, would spell the end of the Israel as a majority Jewish state.

Israel argues that the Palestinian demand is an UNRWA-facilitated effort to destroy Israel by demographic means. The Palestinians also seek an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Months of ongoing violent protests fueled by Hamas at the Gaza border with Israel were initiated under the banner of a “March of the Return,” and encouraged by Hamas leaders with the declared ultimate goal of erasing the border and destroying Israel.

Israel argues that an independent Palestinian state, if agreed upon in negotiations, would absorb Palestinian refugees and their descendants, just as Israel absorbed Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and north African countries over the decades.

Palestinians collect food aid at a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

In an email from later in January, an adviser to Jason Greenblatt — Trump’s Middle East peace envoy — suggested UNRWA’s closure as part of the US peace push.

“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” wrote Victoria Coates.

Coates described the proposition as one of the “spitball ideas that I’ve had that are also informed by some thoughts I’ve picked up from Jared, Jason and Nikki,” referring to Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.

Other proposals raised were moving UNRWA to a monthly operating budget and coming up with “a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials.”

The report also quoted Palestinian officials saying Kushner and Greenblatt in June asked Jordan to remove the refugee status of some 2 million Palestinians in order to end UNRWA’s operations in the country.

“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” said Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi, according to Foreign Policy.

“They want to take a really irresponsible, dangerous decision and the whole region will suffer,” she added, claiming the White House wanted Gulf states to pick up the tab for whatever this would cost Jordan.

Saeb Erekat, speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York on December 13, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Shortly after the reported request, top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Kushner and Greenblatt of seeking the “termination” of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.

“They want to terminate the role of UNRWA by proposing direct aid to the countries hosting the Palestinian refugees and sideline the UN agency,” Erekat said at the time. “On top of this, they are planning financial aid to the Gaza Strip worth one billion dollars for projects, also separate from UNRWA and under the title of solving a humanitarian crisis.”

He added: “All this is actually aimed at liquidating the issue of the Palestinian refugees.”

The White House would not directly comment on the Foreign Policy report, though an official told the magazine that the US position on UNRWA “has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion. The administration will announce its policy in due course.”

Israel, which has also sometimes accused UNRWA of employing Palestinians who support terrorism, says UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees helps to perpetuate the Palestinian narrative of Israeli illegitimacy. It notes that UNRWA’s policy of granting refugee status to the descendants of Palestinian refugees, even when they are born in other countries and have citizenship there, does not apply to the refugees cared for by the UN’s main refugee agency, UNHCR, which cares for all other refugees worldwide. The population of Palestinian refugees thus grows each year, even as other refugee populations in the world shrink with each passing generation.

A spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Washington, Elad Strohmayer, told Foreign Policy: “We believe that UNRWA needs to pass from the world as it is an organization that advocates politically against Israel and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem.”

US President’s peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Foreign Policy report came as US officials say the Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for peace pointmen Kushner and Greenblatt, according to the officials.

The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Although Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, the emerging plan has not been described with even a small amount of detail by Kushner, Greenblatt or any other official.


JARED KUSHNER CRITICIZES ABBAS, QUESTIONING HIS ABILITY TO MAKE PEACE
Mr. Kushner told a Palestinian newspaper that the United States was “almost done” preparing its peace plan.
New York Times,  David M. Halbfinger, June 24, 2018


JERUSALEM — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser on the Middle East, said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, was afraid to make peace with Israel, bore responsibility for the deteriorating situation in Gaza and was prioritizing his own political survival at the expense of his people’s needs.

Mr. Kushner, who is on a multination trip to the Middle East, made his comments in an interview published early Sunday by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. He said the Trump administration was “almost done” preparing its peace plan and would roll it out soon.

He appeared to be attempting to goad Mr. Abbas into talks the leader has vowed to boycott, while doing considerable pre-emptive damage control in the event that Mr. Abbas does not relent.

Read the White House’s transcript of Jared Kushner’s interview.

But Mr. Kushner offered little in the way of enticements to Mr. Abbas. Asked what the leaders of other Arab nations wanted to see in an Israel-Palestinian settlement, the White House aide mentioned nothing about a sovereign Palestinian state or of Palestinian refugees.

He also did not mention Israeli settlements on the West Bank or using the 1967 lines as a starting point to draw borders; and nothing about East Jerusalem serving as the Palestinian capital. He instead spoke of a potential Palestinian capital “in East Jerusalem.”

Mr. Kushner alluded to Arab nations’ desire that Al Aqsa Mosque “remain open to all Muslims who wish to worship” — but said nothing about its being in the custodianship of a Palestinian state, suggesting it could remain under Israeli control in the administration’s plan.

Mr. Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, had angrily rejected American-led negotiations after Mr. Trump reversed decades of United States policy in December by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since then, Mr. Trump has cut aid for Palestinian refugees and moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Mr. Kushner’s interview, published on the website of Al Quds after Mr. Kushner met twice over two days in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, was replete with criticism of Mr. Abbas, the aging, unhealthy and highly unpopular Palestinian leader. A translation of the interview was released by the White House.

Asked by the newspaper’s editor, Walid Abu-Zalaf, about an Abbas spokesman’s dismissal of Mr. Kushner’s trip as a “waste of time” that was “bound to fail,” Mr. Kushner said he believed Palestinian leaders were “saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it.”

Mr. Kushner questioned Mr. Abbas’s flexibility and capacity to make peace, and said the “global community” was frustrated with Mr. Abbas. “He has his talking points, which have not changed in the last 25 years,” Mr. Kushner said. He added: “To make a deal, both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”

Mr. Abbas has raged at the Trump administration, Mr. Kushner observed, but he questioned whose interests that served.

“There are a lot of sharp statements and condemnations, but no ideas or efforts with prospects of success,” Mr. Kushner said. “Those who are more skeptical say President Abbas is only focused on his political survival and cementing a legacy of not having compromised, than on bettering the lives of the Palestinian people.”

Mr. Abbas was elected for the first and only time in 2005 to a four-year term, and recent polls show a majority of Palestinians believe he should resign. Mr. Kushner alluded to this unpopularity, saying: “I don’t think the Palestinian people feel like their lives are getting better, and there is only so long you can blame that on everyone other than Palestinian leadership.”

Mr. Kushner said the Trump administration was determined to find solutions to the “core issues” of the conflict — including Jerusalem, borders and refugees — “that both sides can live with.” But he said that “without creating a pathway to better life,” no solution would be durable.


   Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has angrily rejected American-led peace negotiations, saying the Trump administration cannot be a neutral mediator.

CreditAbbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images                                                                                


To that end, he said his team had “spent our time focusing on the people and trying to determine what they actually want,” which he said was “more and better-paying jobs and prospects for a better life.”

He suggested that could involve “massive investments in modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus,” could allow the “industrious, well-educated” Palestinian population to leapfrog to the forefront of the “technological industrial revolution” and said Palestinians would particularly benefit from integrating their economy with that of Israel, “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.”

“Israeli’s prosperity would spill over very quickly to the Palestinians if there is peace,” he said, and Egypt and Jordan would also see a windfall.

Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East peace negotiator, said Mr. Kushner’s conjuring of an economic leap forward for Palestinians could be “appealing,” but he warned that leaders of neighboring Arab countries would require a political compromise between Israel and the Palestinians to be able to support an American-led deal.

“Arab leaders need to be able to justify their position by pointing to what the Palestinians would be getting and what is important to Arab audiences,” he said. “That certainly suggests something credible from their standpoint on Jerusalem and a Palestinian state.”

“There is a challenge to Abu Mazen here,” Mr. Ross added, referring to Mr. Abbas and the overall tone of Mr. Kushner’s remarks. “But the door is open to him, as well.”

Notably, Mr. Kushner did not mention Mr. Abbas’s counterpart, Mr. Netanyahu, or offer any criticism of the Israeli side. Mr. Abbas and his advisers have complained that the Trump administration has dispensed with any pretense that the United States can be a neutral mediator of the conflict and has essentially taken Israel’s side.

Indeed, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, said that Mr. Kushner’s description of the American plan could have been drafted by the right-wing Israeli government. Mr. Erekat said in an interview, “That is verbatim what we heard from Netanyahu.”

Mr. Erekat said that he had repeatedly asked Mr. Kushner to facilitate direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, but that Mr. Kushner had rebuffed him.

“They want to dictate a solution, not negotiate it,” Mr. Erekat said. “He’s trying to blame us, that’s it — he’s trying to show that the Palestinians want away from the table. They’re preparing the ground for finger-pointing and assigning blame on us.”

In the interview, Mr. Kushner laid considerable responsibility for the deterioration of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas, at the feet of Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the coastal enclave for more than a decade, but Mr. Abbas imposed harshly punitive financial measures in the past year, including cutting the salaries of tens of thousands of civil servants in Gaza.

“The political dysfunction, greatly exacerbated by the P.A.’s salary cuts, has made Gaza ungovernable,” Mr. Kushner said. “It’s time for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to stop using the people of Gaza as pawns.”

Mr. Kushner welcomed the idea of a referendum on a peace plan as a way to bypass recalcitrant leaders in both the West Bank and Jerusalem. “That’s something that the leadership of both sides should consider doing,” he said.

Rhetorically, at least, he spent much of the interview appealing to ordinary Palestinians to give the Trump administration’s proposal a fair hearing.

“Don’t let your leadership reject a plan they haven’t even seen,” he said. “The world has moved forward while you have been left behind. Don’t allow your grandfather’s conflict to determine your children’s future.”

Follow David M. Halbfinger on Twitter: @halbfinger.


1 COUNTRIES SPEED UP FUNDING FOR PALESTINIANS AFTER US CUTS
UNRWA chief says Russia, Kuwait, and 9 European nations are stepping up contributions
Times of Israel  Agencies and TOI STAFF, 30 January 2018


The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that Russia, Kuwait and nine European countries have agreed to speed up their contributions to help fill a shortfall left by the Trump administration’s decision to reduce crucial US funding.

Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl of the UN Relief and Works Agency also said it has received no specifics about reforms sought by the United States, suggesting politics — notably surrounding the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital — were at play.

UNRWA, which serves some 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, had a budget of over $1 billion last year. This covered long-running programs, including education, as well as emergency funds for crises such as the war in Syria.

The US has been the largest donor, giving one-third of the total budget. The Trump administration withheld half of the first instalment of payments this year, demanding reforms as a condition for future aid.

The UN agency says the Trump administration has committed $60 million this year — far short of the $360 million that the US provided last year — and Krähenbühl said he has no sign that other US funding might be on the way.

The US has said it is withholding two payments to UNWRA totaling some $100 million.

But the administrator of the US Agency for International Development said Friday that the Trump administration had not yet made decisions regarding cuts in humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“This process is ongoing, and no funding decisions have been made. As the President said, the United States expects the Palestinian leadership to work with us,” USAID’s Mark Green told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The UNRWA head said the changes marked “a very severe and dramatic change in the parameters of funding from the United States,” which he called a “stable, predictable and most-generous contributor to UNRWA over decades.”

“It is clear that we have a very big task on our hand to fill that gap,” Krähenbühl told reporters in Geneva.

UNRWA responded by calling on donors to speed up their funding, and Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Ireland have taken steps to do so, he said. Others were considering similar action.

“Advancing contributions is extremely important to help us address the first few months,” he said. “Of course, a shortfall of $300 million can only be addressed with obtaining additional income from other sources over the year.”

The comments Tuesday came as UNRWA said it is seeking $800 million for emergency operations in Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip this year. UNRWA sought $400 million each for Syria and the Palestinian territories. In an appeal last week, the agency sought an additional $500 million.

Illustrative: UN trucks carrying building materials for projects funded by UNRWA arrive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip after crossing the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing on December 10, 2013. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90/ File)

“We signed our new framework agreement with the US in the beginning of December in which every aspect of our relationship from funding to reform discussions was covered and agreed,” Krähenbühl told The Associated Press. “They did not explain the current decision by reform-related elements.”

He said he believed the funding cut was linked to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and a subsequent vote by the UN General Assembly to denounce the decision.

“It is very clear that the decision by the United States was not related to our performance,” he said. “This has to be part of the debate that took place around Jerusalem.”

Israel has often criticized UNRWA, accusing it of sheltering terrorists and allowing Palestinians to remain refugees even after settling in a new city or country for generations, thus complicating a possible resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.