Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and President Donald Trump in Bethlehem, May 2017. (AP/Nasser Nasser) (AP/Nasser Nasser)
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The Palestinians have one condition for the US to be accepted by them as a mediator in the conflict with Israel: bias in their favor. 

By: Bassem Tawil/The Gatestone Institute

US President Donald Trump’s envoys, Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, are planning to return to the Middle East soon to discuss ways of reviving the stalled “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians. Greenblatt tweeted last week that he was looking forward to returning to the Middle East “as we pursue peace.” He added that Trump was “optimistic,” but did not elaborate.

Pursuing peace sounds wonderful. Less wonderful, however, are the facts on the ground of “pursuing peace” with the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, the Palestinians have returned to their old habit of accusing the US of being “biased” in favor of Israel.

As the US envoys prepare to head to the Middle East, Palestinians are saying that they have lost confidence in the Trump administration, as they have done with all previous administrations.

For the Palestinians, a US administration that openly supports the State of Israel cannot play the role of an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For the Palestinians, US commitment to Israel’s security and well-being disqualifies Washington as a mediator because it means that the Americans are “biased” in favor of Israel.

Palestinians: You’re Either With Us or Against Us

The Palestinians have a condition for the US to be accepted by them as a mediator in the conflict with Israel: bias in favor of the Palestinians. This is the Palestinian state of mind: If you are not with us, you are against us.

In the Palestinian logic, the US administration must endorse the Palestinian narrative and comply with all their demands if it wishes to broker “peace” with Israel. The Palestinians do indeed want the US to be involved – as an axeman for their execution of Israel.

The Palestinians are prepared to cooperate with any US administration, on one condition only: that it forces Israel to withdraw fully to the 1949 armistice lines and allow the incompetent and discredited Mahmoud Abbas to establish a corrupt, undemocratic and failed state, one that would set its predatory sights on the now-much-harder-to-defend State of Israel.

Until recently, Abbas and his Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank believed that the new president would swallow their fabrications and perhaps collude with them to bring Israel down. At one stage, Abbas even instructed his aides and spokesmen to avoid making any criticism against Trump or his administration, toward just this goal.

Palestinian Disdain for the US

However, the Palestinian tone has changed in recent weeks. Palestinian officials and factions and political commentators are no longer concealing their distrust of — and disdain for — the Trump administration. The “honeymoon” between the Palestinians and the Trump administration is over.

Palestinians are waking up to the fact that the Trump administration is not planning to act as a puppet in their expansionist play. They are starting to see that the US has no intention of strong-arming Israel into making territorial concessions that would compromise its security. For the Palestinians, this is sufficient evidence that the Trump administration is not to be trusted.

The Palestinians are not interested in the US acting as a mediator in the conflict with Israel; rather, they are interested in the Americans, and the rest of the world, imposing a solution upon Israel that threatens its security and strategic and national interests.

In a reprise of a very old story, the Palestinians are prepared to return to table with Israel only if the US guarantees that the “negotiations” will involve compelling Israel to comply with all their demands.

What Awaits Trump’s Envoys?

In light of the Palestinian disappointment with the Trump administration, what kind of reception are the Palestinians planning for Trump’s envoys?

Here is one sign of what awaits Greenblatt and Kushner when they arrive in Ramallah for talks with Abbas and his lieutenants: mass demonstrations.

After an emergency meeting in Ramallah on August 13, Palestinian factions called for organizing mass protests against the visit of Trump’s envoys and US “bias” in favor of Israel. The call could not have been issued without the approval of Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

A statement issued by the “National and Islamic Factions,” a coalition of various Palestinian groups, including Abbas’s own ruling Fatah faction, accused the Trump administration of working toward pressuring the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

The statement also accused the Trump administration of “incitement” against the Palestinians and allowing Israel to “steal” Palestinian land.

The statement went on to accuse the Trump administration of promoting the idea of “economic peace” by focusing solely on the need to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians. It also dismissed as a “mirage” the Trump administration’s talk about a “regional peace” that would see Israel and some Arab countries sign peace treaties “behind the Palestinians’ back.

Narrative: For Palestinians to Thrive, Israel Must Go

Such sentiments are echoed by Palestinian political analysts who are affiliated with Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

The Palestinian leadership does not wish to talk about improving the Palestinian economy because Palestinians do not perceive themselves as engaged in an economic conflict with Israel: they perceive themselves as engaged in an existential, struggle-to-the-death conflict with Israel. In their view, for Palestinians to thrive, the State of Israel must go.

Notably, the Palestinians reject the idea of Israel making peace with its Arab neighbors. They fear that such peace would come at the expense of them achieving political supremacy over Israel.

“It has become clear that the US viewpoint is biased in favor of Israel,” remarked Palestinian political analyst Anwar Rajab in an article published in the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, which serves as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority. “It has become clear that Trump’s envoys only carry suggestions for improving the living conditions and economy of the Palestinians.” Rajab also scoffed at the idea of a “regional peace” and dubbed it a lie, illusion and a miserable piece of merchandise.

Once again, the Palestinians are broadcasting clearly that the Trump administration’s renewed effort to revive the peace process with Israel is unacceptable and doomed to failure because the US is not prepared to force Israel first into retreat and then into defeat.

Blinded by their hatred for Israel, the Palestinians have long sidelined both their economy and their future to achieve their real goal: to see Israel forced to its knees, and then removed from the face of the earth.

Bassem Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East

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