Interview with Lara Friedman: 'The Incentive is to Erase the Hated Oslo Process During Trump’s First Term'

Published June 11th, 2019 - 11:22 GMT
Lara Friedman /Al Bawaba
Lara Friedman /Al Bawaba


“There has been remarkable consistency of plan, consistency of purpose, and consistency of policy in this administration. People seem to be surprised by this administration’s moves; whether it’s moving the embassy, going after UNRWA, effectively de-recognizing the Palestinian leadership, to shutting down the consulate here in DC - which is effectively ending state-to-state bilateral relations.”

Recently, the European Bank for Reconstruction and several countries have been careful regarding their possible attendance at the conference in Bahrain. A spokesperson for the World Bank stated that they had received an invitation and “expected to attend.” What are we seeing here? Why such reluctance?

DC Insider spoke with Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, to get closer insight into the progress of the so-called ‘deal of the century,’ and how policymakers are reacting in Washington.



“Whether people believe that there's any possibility of progress to be made in Bahrain, which I don’t think that anybody believes there is, these institutions and countries don’t want to be seen as either obstructionists or preemptive rejectionists. We have countries that have said that they will attend but if they send a political officer from an embassy, is that really attending or is that simply a sign of support for foreign investment?”

But what of the ‘deal of the century’? Is the plan 'still on the table'?

“I don’t understand why people are still using the term ‘deal of the century,’ unless they’re putting it in quotes, because it is a term that, at this point, is not even meaningful. They haven’t revealed anything... This administration has spent the past two and a half years talking about a hypothetical plan that will hypothetically improve the situation on the ground and yet: Nothing.”
 

This administration has spent the past 2 1/2 years talking about a hypothetical plan that will hypothetically improve the situation on the ground and yet: Nothing.

Then, there’s this new initiative that has popped up: 'Peace for Prosperity.' Freudian slip, much? The title says it all: in order for peace to be achieved, prosperity for the US and Israel must be achieved.

“I like all those words: I like the word peace, it’s a great word. I like the word prosperity, also a great word. However, strung sloppily together here, I don’t know that they mean. It seems that they want to say that with peace will come prosperity, and then you'll see the benefits of peace. It seems to be a meaningless title that someone made up because it’s alliterative (two P’s, we like that) and you could even advertise it as 'P4P' by including the number, so it works out well as a hashtag.”

Ever since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt have been taking pride in regard to their instrumental role in taking a two-state solution out of the GOP platform. According to Lara Friedman, this has been the Trump administration’s goal all along.
 

the incentive is to erase the hated Oslo process during Trump’s first term, once and for all. This administration wants to turn the clock back; not just to before Oslo, but to the period before Madrid in which the Palestinians didn't even exist…

“It's quite impressive and very clear that the argument is that we have to get all of these things done before the end of the first term because God forbid, if Trump is not re-elected, we don't know what will come next… If we have a next term, we’ll go further but the incentive is to erase the hated Oslo process during Trump’s first term, once and for all. This administration wants to turn the clock back; not just to before Oslo, but to the period before Madrid in which the Palestinians didn't even exist… A time Palestinians were not even recognized to have any legitimate grievances or identity; taking us back to a time in which the word ‘Palestinian’ was merely seen as anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic, and synonymous with terror.”
 

As an analyst I would observe that the King Abdullah is in a uniquely difficult position here and I'm not sure that that is always fully appreciated by folks who are focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think it is largely appreciated by analysts here in D.C.

“This administration is helping in Israel’s desire to make sure that it can hold on to all of the land forever. For them, it’s ‘now, we're going to figure out a way to achieve that goal, just don't bother us with the details about what is manageable or what is good for security, or what is moral or legal… Don't worry about that because God will sort all of that out, God wants all of this land for us and only us.”

But where does Jordan and King Abdullah, fit into this picture?

“As an analyst I would observe that the King Abdullah is in a uniquely difficult position here and I'm not sure that that is always fully appreciated by folks who are focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think it is largely appreciated by analysts here in D.C., though… Jordan is dealing with its own internal issues related to its influx of refugees, and Jordan is in enormously reliant on its relationship with the US.”
 

He suffers from that with his relationship with Israel and the unique role that Jordan plays as the guardian of the holy sites in Jerusalem. Anything that has to do with the Palestinians is a domestic policy issue for King Abdullah; it's not a foreign policy issue.

Thus, it is clear King Abdullah of Jordan has been placed in a difficult diplomatic position.

“When it comes to Jordan, there is a combination of domestic pressure in which you have a large population that is obviously of Palestinian descent and people will forever debate what percentage that is. However, the numbers' not even relevant; it’s a high percentage and it puts enormous pressure on King Abdullah, who already has his own pressures from his more conservative or extremist regressive forces internally… He suffers from that with his relationship with Israel and the unique role that Jordan plays as the guardian of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem. Anything that has to do with the Palestinians is a domestic policy issue for King Abdullah; it's not a foreign policy issue.”
 

Lara Friedman is President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.


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