22:03 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Palestinians watch a family house destroyed by Israeli authorities in east Jerusalem's neighbourhood of Silwan on 17 April 2019

    As Money Dries Up For Palestinians, Are They In a Position to Say No to Jared Kushner Peace Deal?

    Mahmoud Illean
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    US President Donald Trump has been feted in Israel for his unquestioning support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His son-in-law Jared Kushner has been given the task of coming up with a peace deal.

    Jared Kushner will outline the economic component of his deal at a conference in Bahrain next week but the Palestinians are boycotting it because they say Washington is biased towards Israel.

    Kushner’s peace deal was due to be unveiled after the Israeli general election in April but although Mr Netanyahu claimed victory, he was unable to put together a governing coalition and has been forced to call a second election in September.

    ​Kushner is reportedly under pressure to delay publishing the details of the deal until November.

    In March, Jacob Eriksson, Al Tajir Lecturer in Post-War Recovery Studies at the University of York, said there was little optimism on the Palestinian side about the Kushner plan and few in the West Bank or Gaza saw him as an impartial referee.

    ​Professor Eriksson said he suspected Israel would be the only sovereign state in Kushner’s plan and the West Bank and Gaza would be autonomous Palestinian regions, with some possible "land swaps" involving Jewish settler blocks.

    ​Earlier this month Kushner said of the Palestinians: “The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing [themselves]” but he added: “[The Palestinian territories] need to have a fair judicial system… freedom of the press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions," before they become "investable."

    ​Kushner also said he believed the people of the Palestinian territories "want to have a better life."

    Professor Eriksson said: "The Gulf Arab states will be expected to bring the Palestinians into the fold, with pressure and financial inducements.”

    These “financial inducements” are believed to be at the heart of Kushner’s so-called deal and stem from the fact that he is a businessman and not a politician.

    ​He apparently believes that the best way to solve the Israel/Palestine problem is by throwing money at the Palestinians in an attempt to get them to drop their demands for a sovereign state, the Right to Return and the destruction of thousands of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

    Kushner’s timing could not be better.

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) is struggling financially after the Trump administration virtually cut off all aid to the occupied territories.

    ​On Tuesday, 18 June, the head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, Azzam Shawwa, said their finances were on the brink.

    The PA’s debt is now US$3 billion and its economy has shrunk for the first time in 20 years.

    Shawwa said: "We are now going through a critical point. What's next, we don't know. How we are going to pay salaries next month? How are we going to finance our obligations? How will daily life continue without liquidity in the hands of people? I don't know where we are heading. This uncertainty makes it difficult to plan for tomorrow."

    Shawwa also said Arab countries were failing to honour their donor pledges, providing barely $40 million a month, half of which came from Saudi Arabia.

    Shawwa said the PA has had to increase borrowing from 14 banks.

    Thousands of people who worked on projects funded by US aid had been laid off and the West Bank economy has contracted for the first time in decades, with the only money coming in being remittances from Palestinians working in Israel or from relatives in the diaspora.

    Shawwa said: "We are being fought by the most important power in the world. Is it in the interest of America to break the Palestinian economy?" 

    ​But Trump is set to continue playing hardball with the Palestinians.

    Next year Trump will be seeking to be re-elected President and he knows his staunchly pro-Israel policy could well draw away some Jewish voters from the Democrats, while there is absolutely no political advantage in helping the Palestinians.

    In 2017 President Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv - reversing decades of White House policy - enraged the Palestinians who have zero confidence in any square dealing from the Trump administration.



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