The US-Led Peace Process: "Deal of the Century" or End of the Road? Briefing with Khaled Elgindy

Posted by Caabu on 08 Aug 2019

On 18 July 2019, Caabu hosted a briefing with author and academic Khaled Elgindy on the US-Led Peace Process.

Khaled Elgindy is an independent analyst and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Centre for Middle East Policy.  He is the author of the newly released book Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump, published by Brookings Institution Press in April 2019, which offers an analysis on the US approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to Elgindy, “Donald Trump rewrote the rules from the beginning”. Khaled Elgindy was critical of the plan presented by Kushner by saying that Palestine refugees as well as the status of Jerusalem were not part pf the deal and the words “independence”; “UN resolution” or “occupation” were not mentioned during the workshop. “All sensitive issues that Palestinians care about were off the table,” Elgindy said.

According to Khaled Elgindy, the “Deal of the Century” is a combination of old approaches, evev though the Trump administration has declared it as radically new. Donald Trump is driven almost exclusively by domestic policy, similar to those of Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson. He highlighted the two UN resolutions adopted as part of the peace process in 1948 and 1967: the 194 and 242 resolutions. He pointed out that the first resolution was abandoned in the 1960s with President Lyndon Johnson who was the first US president, who did not try to deal with the issue of Palestinian refugees, given that Israel was entirely against their return. Although the second resolution has been theoretically respected since 1967, the US presidents have acted ambivalently as they objected to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while taking actions that encouraged their expansion simultaneously. Elgindy argued that Donald Trump did not kill the peace process as it had died progressively until Barack Obama’s presidency. Although Obama worked to prevent the further growth of settlements and participated in the recognition of the Palestinian Authority by the UN, he let the peace process die. The two-state solution was placed in moral danger and the “doors were opened for Trump”.

Khaled Elgindy pointed out that the Palestinian leadership also held some responsibility for the failure of the peace process. There was two main problems that led to this failure; the exclusive reliance on the US only and the absence of opposition in the agreements of Oslo although Hamas was not part of the deal by desire. He argued that the conflict cannot be solved until the Palestinians are gathered politically in order to agree on and write a new national strategy and general rules.

Elgindy was positive about some change in the US. Besides, a political constituency is carrying Palestinian rights in the US for the first time as it was carrying individuals before. The discourse on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is being polarised between liberal and illiberal thought, although this polarisation might not be permanent.