U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (standing, L-R), Vice President Mike Pence and Staff Secretary Rob Porter welcomes...
JONATHAN ERNST

Trump discovers that Middle East peace isn’t as easy as he thought

Just three months into his presidency, Donald Trump declared with confidence, “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.” As we discussed at the time, there are all kinds of things standing in the way of peace, though the president didn’t appear to recognize them.

He was, however, quite serious about the attitude. A month later, Trump boasted there’s a “very, very good chance” his administration would help strike a deal for Middle East peace. “It’s something, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” the president added.

As regular readers know, Trump assigned his young son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to oversee the White House’s efforts to reach an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis. Trump was certain he’d picked the right person for the job, saying of Kushner, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can. OK. All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal in the world to make. And I’ve seen it, but I have a feeling that Jared is going to do a great job.”

Yeah, about that

Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan isn’t even out yet, but there are already intensifying calls to scrap the rollout – including from some Trump allies.

Prominent conservative and pro-Israel voices close to the White House are increasingly sharing their fears, which range from the possibility that the peace proposal could trigger violence to worries that its offerings could forever kill efforts to craft a two-state solution.

As the Politico report added, political turmoil and a fresh round of elections in Israel were likely to delay the White House’s gambit anyway, but some are nevertheless “going on the record to urge the Trump administration to set aside the plan indefinitely.”

Complicating matters, the Washington Post obtained a recording of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking behind closed doors to a group of Jewish leaders last week, when the president’s chief diplomat “delivered a sobering assessment” of the plan’s prospects. Pompeo said “one might argue” that the blueprint is “unexecutable” and it might not “gain traction.”

Making matters slightly worse, the president suggested Pompeo may very well be right.

During a brief Q&A with reporters before leaving for the U.K., Trump was asked if he had any comment about Pompeo’s remarks. The secretary of State, the president replied, “may be right.”

As things stand, the White House, which has gone to great lengths to antagonize Palestinians, is expected to unveil its peace plan three weeks from today. While the details remain under wraps, multiple reports suggest Kushner’s blueprint is built on financial incentives for Palestinians, not a two-state solution.

As that plan starts to unravel – before its release – it’s worth pausing to question the wisdom of putting the process in the hands of a young presidential son-in-law with no experience in diplomacy or foreign policy, answering to a president with no interest in diplomacy or foreign policy.