In little-noticed news outside the Middle East, the Trump administration, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, brokered a historic meeting regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip. According to The Jerusalem Post, the attendees included officials from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, as well Israel, Canada, and European countries. That means that virtually every major regional power acting in counterbalance to Iran attended the meeting — and that the Palestinians boycotted it, once again demonstrating that they care less about the humanitarian crisis striking their citizens under the rule of terrorist group Hamas, and more about posturing regarding supposed Israeli intransigence.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for Middle East negotiations, stated, “We regret that the Palestinian Authority is not here with us today. This is not about politics. This is about the health, safety and happiness of the people of Gaza, and of all Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians.”
This is the first White House event of this sort, ever. But the reason for the Palestinian boycott is obvious: the White House laid the blame for the humanitarian situation in Gaza on the ruling power in Gaza. “Everything we do must be done in a way that ensures we do not put the security of Israelis and Egyptians at risk,” Greenblatt stated, “and that we do not inadvertently empower Hamas, which bears responsibility for Gaza’s suffering.” Those are strong words, particularly considering that Qatar signs checks to Hamas on a regular basis.
But what this meeting truly says is that the most important priority in the Middle East is no longer using the plight of the Palestinians as a club to wield against the Israelis in order to distract from domestic issues in Muslim countries. Instead, the top priority is countering the rising power in Iran, which has extended its reach through Iraq and Syria and to Lebanon, and is moving in Yemen as well. Regional solutions to the Palestinian issue are likely to be far more successful than the false binary of Israelis vs. Palestinians that has predominated for decades.