Ghaith Al-Omari: On Jordan and the Bahrain 'Dress Rehearsal'

Published June 17th, 2019 - 12:32 GMT
Ghaith Al-Omari is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program
Ghaith Al-Omari is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program


“I just don’t see the possibility of a peace deal being reached anytime soon… The Israeli political system has gone very far right in ways which disable it from making the necessary compromises from their end. Meanwhile, the Palestinian system is too politically weak to make any major compromises because of the lack of legitimacy, whether it be towards the PA or Hamas. Ultimately, you don't have leaders today who can make the necessary compromises to actually reach peace.”



On June 25th and 26th, the Bahrain ‘workshop’ will take place and the Trump administration will unveil the first part of its supposed ‘deal of the century’: the economic portion. Currently, the list of attendees has yet to be determined which has raised quite a few red flags. With less than ten days until the conference, DC Insider spoke with Ghaith Al-Omari, a Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program on U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, regarding the upcoming event.

“The Bahrain workshop is almost like a dress rehearsal… They want to see who will show up and at what level, along with how enthusiastic the attendees will be. Based on that, they will determine how to proceed with the more difficult and more significant issue of what to do with the political part of the plan. Personally, I would advocate for the Bahrain workshop to tackle some of the more immediate concerns in order to gain more credibility.”
 

The Bahrain workshop is almost like a dress rehearsal…

Until now, the general public is rather confused as to why this specific assignation is being referred to as a ‘workshop’ rather than a conference, which would be preferable both politically and economically.  

“It’s interesting that the expectations have already been lowered by the administration… They call it a workshop, but a workshop is not geared towards producing concrete results. They've always been saying that there are two components to this; the political and the economic. Their goal is to first lay out the economic and that is not about immediate aid, but what can be expected if peace is reached.”

However, peace doesn’t seem to be the goal for the U.S. or Israel considering what has already been established in regards to this latest peace plan. In fact, one could argue that peace was never a goal for either party. In the end, it will always be the Arabs that suffer while the U.S. and Israel continue to profit, both financially and politically, from their misery.
 

In the end, it will always be the Arabs that suffer while the U.S. and Israel continue to profit, both financially and politically, from their misery

“Palestinians, along with the rest of the MENA region, are very jaded when it comes to long-term big promises… They've heard it all before many times in many ways and it almost never delivers. If there are concrete deliverables that relate to the immediate concerns and challenges, I think that will cause the Bahrain workshop to gain more credibility. The goal is to send the right kind of signals to the Palestinians without endangering Israeli security because there is strong security cooperation between the two.” 
 

Palestinians, along with the rest of the MENA region, are very jaded when it comes to long-term big promises… They've heard it all before many times in many ways and it almost never delivers.

Amidst all the chaos and confusion surrounding this latest deal, many prominent members of the Jewish-American community in D.C. have been extremely vocal regarding their desire for a two-state solution. Has this been the case all along or is this something that we’re just starting to witness now?

“There has always been a spectrum of views [pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict] within the Jewish-American community. The majority are supportive of a two-state solution and that is not only from the left; it’s also from the center. Most Jewish-American organizations adopt a two-state solution now, although some are more hardline than others in their view of how it goes down.” 

“However, there is something new within that community… We are hearing an increasing number of them who are basically saying no to a two-state solution. Hence, their support for peace is not new but there are clearly more empowered voices that are against a two-state solution.” 
 

“There has always been a spectrum of views [pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict] within the Jewish-American community. The majority are supportive of a two-state solution and that is not only from the left; it’s also from the center."

At the dead-center of this never-ending conflict is Jordan. This month, King Abdullah reacted angrily to the mere idea that he would potentially accept a U.S. deal which would end the Arab-Israeli conflict by turning Jordan into what it already is, ironically: a homeland for the Palestinians.

“Like many leaders in the region, I think that King Abdullah is frustrated that the Trump administration is not sharing the content of the deal with him regarding Jordan. As a close ally of the U.S., the frustration stems from a certain lack of trust and so Jordan is in a very unique situation… At least two of the issues that will be in the deal reflect immediately on Jordanian national security interests, specifically Jerusalem, and what to do with refugees. Therefore, there's been a lot of anxiety among Jordanians [in the country], thus King Abdullah was channeling some of these frustrations while also relaying his support for the public’s position.”
 

there's been a lot of anxiety among Jordanians

"Jordan is the only Arab country that gave Palestinian refugees Jordanian citizenships and they’re reasonably integrated into the country… Everyone knows that the majority [of Palestinians] would end up staying in Jordan and so the main concern is the identity of these refugees. King Abdullah needs a solution for the refugee influx in which the Palestinians themselves will embrace so that he can go to his own public and say, ‘Okay, now we have a solution for them: They can either choose to take whatever is agreed upon or become Jordanian citizens once and for all."

“In my opinion, the best-case scenario is if we have less ambitious but more concrete steps that will get us closer to a deal without really forcing either side to make any of the major compromises."


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Ghaith Al-Omari is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute's Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.


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