06/20/2019, 16.39
MIDDLE EAST – UNITED STATES
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Trump's (economic) plan ‘will not solve the Palestinian problem’

For Palestinian scholar and politician Bernard Sabella, "a comprehensive political solution" is needed with no one excluded. Israeli rabbi sees plan failing to go to the heart of the problem: human rights and the recognition of Palestinian needs. Catholic leader notes in Israel all the attention is "on the elections".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Whether seen as the deal of the century or deemed already a resounding fiasco, the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan raises doubts and questions in world capitals as well as among ordinary people. The plan whose outline is still unclear, seems to be centred on economics rather than diplomacy and politics.

As the start of the Manama Conference in Bahrain approaches (25-26 June), AsiaNews listened to Palestinian, Israeli and Catholic voices in the Holy Land, namely Palestinian scholar and political leader Bernard Sabella, Israeli rabbi Jeremy Milgrom and Catholic analyst and commentator Sobhy Makhoul.

Bernard Sabella is a Palestinian Catholic, a Fatah representative for Jerusalem and executive secretary of the Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees at the Middle East Council of Churches

Speaking of the Manama Conference, we must first of all highlight the absence of Palestinians. The basic problem is that the US administration wants to separate Palestinian political and historical claims from their economic and social conditions.

This cannot be done and it is a difficult position for the Palestinian leadership to accept. The Americans seem to be in full control, bent on boosting their strategic alliance with Israel whilst the Palestinians feel cornered.

On a personal level, I believe the United States is not particularly interested in the Palestinians, but only seeks to pursue its idea of ​​the Middle East with the help of Israel. However, this plan is running into history, the past and the feeling of a population that lives in a climate of injustice.

We cannot give up on a comprehensive political solution by focusing on the economic aspect. This is what every Palestinian thinks, not their leaders. I fear the economic development dangled by the US will only benefit business interests, those who already have money and not the people. For this reason, people back the boycott position taken by Mahmoud Abbas. It is impossible to trade history (settlements) and ideals for money.

Jeremy Milgrom is an Israeli rabbi, a member of the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights, and an advocate of interfaith dialogue in Israel

The Manama Conference and the plan drawn up by the United States have a markedly economic orientation. It is centred on money and it can perhaps help in terms of investments, but it avoids the real heart of the problem: human rights and the recognition of Palestinian needs. Investing money can be useful, but when you look at Palestinian history you can't help but see few people make money and many suffer.

Some might even be happy with this plan, but it will be of no use to the masses. I believe it will meet with a clear refusal and will not seriously help the prospects for peace. Too many people are suffering and the picture is too complex to reduce it to economics.

Having said that, I hope that everyone might have something good to give, even a plan drawn up by Trump (and his son-in-law Kushner), although it is always hard to believe what he says or what he promises to do.

Lastly, I want to remain openminded to the possibility of positive steps, but in Israel there are no great expectations and people are focused on the September elections, on the poorly-concealed disgust with politics and the shadows cast by corruption that hover over Netanyahu and the country’s leaders.

Sobhy Makhoul, of the Maronite Church of Jerusalem, is the administrator of the Christian Media Center.

Trump plans to solve all the problems with money. But if he believes it is possible to give money to the Palestinians in exchange for their silence and their obedience, his plan will fail from the start.

We must consider the fact that the presentation of the project has been postponed repeatedly, first in April following the Israeli elections, then at the end of Ramadan and now the controversial phases that led to the political crisis in Israel have brought a new postponement. Now, with a caretaker government during the lead-up to the September vote, everything will be harder and big decisions can't be taken.

Perhaps something might come out in Manama, above all from an economic point of view, but the real plan – whatever is – will be released in full in September after the Israeli vote.

The June meeting is just a first step. I think Trump is playing with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. His plan is not clearly laid out. The US president understands little about the issues and the balance of power in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The same goes for Kushner, who is certainly no Henry Kissinger. At present, Israeli public opinion is focused on the elections, on domestic issues, and there is not much talk of Palestine, nor of Iran.

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