The USA never really played the mediator role successfully because America's bias towards Israel was virtually impossible to conceal. With Donald Trump as president, the world's greatest power has now bluntly and officially sided with Israel and the Netanyahu government. This was illustrated by the controversial moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, the cutting of U.S. money for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and the recent declaration concerning the Golan.

Trump's ominous "Deal of the Century"

It could be argued that the muted reaction to the above-mentioned declaration is down not to the USA's weakness in the region, but the very opposite. As the head of the last remaining world power and as one half of the Trump-Netanyahu duo, Donald Trump is simply presenting the world with one irreversible fait accompli after another. And the lip service being paid to opposition to these moves is limited because it is going to happen whatever people say. However, if they are to be more than just symbolic, all these faits accomplis have to result in a significant whole.

Trump formally recognises Israelʹs sovereignty over the Golan Heights (photo: picture-alliance/Xinhua)
Cementing the Middle East deadlock: last Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a decree recognising that the Golan Heights, annexed from Syria by Israel, belong to Israel. The ceremony took place during a visit to the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel occupied the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War and annexed them in 1981. A move that has never been recognised internationally

For years now, there has been talk that Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is preparing the mother of all solutions to the Middle East conflict. Trump himself has mysteriously termed it the "deal of the century". Little is known of its actual content. There is, however, a lot of speculation that property developer Kushner wants to buy off the Palestinians' rights and to shuffle around some items of politically explosive real estate. The intention is that the Gulf States will fund the plan.

"Waiting for Kushner"

If the little that the public is speculating about is indeed rooted in some kind of reality, virtually all Middle East experts agree that the "Deal of the Century" is likely to be nothing more than a damp squib. And this is why many in the region speak not of "waiting for Godot", but "waiting for Kushner".

During a hearing in front of a U.S. Congress committee last Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked when Kushner would at last unveil his long-awaited peace plan. He replied "I think we can say in less than 20 years." This was followed by nervous laughter and the words: "I prefer not to be more precise."

The truth is that if a solution is to be found to the Middle East conflict, an honest broker is needed on the international stage. The USA would now appear to have removed itself from the equation once and for all. The Europeans are too weak and are barely taken seriously in the region. And anyway, with whom would such a broker negotiate? With Israel's right-wing, which is completely and utterly convinced that it is in a position of strength to present the world with yet another fait accompli that will stand the test of time? Or with a conglomerate of Arab despots, who will not come up with a sustainable solution because they themselves are unsustainable?

Karim El-Gawhary

© 2019

Translated from the German by Aingeal Flanagan

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