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Global Power

BOOM OR... THUD?: Today is a big day for Jared Kushner: The president’s son-in-law and adviser is in Bahrain to push the economic portion of his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan the administration has already dubbed the “deal of the century.” But the Palestinians — the intended chief beneficiaries of the $50 billion investment proposal — have already rejected the proposal outright. 

Very cold water: Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee, told Power Up that the Trump administration's proposal is “totally detached from any kind of political perspective of the reality on the ground, from the actual cause of our economic hardships.” It has “nothing to do with the requirements of genuine peace,” Ashrawi said. 

  • “It's a series of plans and projects that have been tried before, thinking that they can get the Arab world to cough up the money, which I'm sure is not going to happen,” Ashrawi added, echoing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's rejection of the two day economic workshop that neither Palestinian nor Israeli official delegations will be attending. 

The two day “Peace to Prosperity” session faces a serious uphill climb: It features a raft of international business types from dozens of countries — but is short on regional partners and financiers whose political and monetary support the Trump administration is targeting for its yet-to-be-fully-released Middle East peace plan. Kushner’s plan envisions some $50 billion in investment to promote economic growth in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza strip and neighboring Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon — but contains no specifics about who will pay. 

  • View from the Palestinians: Those who are going are sending very low level, technical representation and people know that,” Ashrawi told Power Up. Everybody knows that this is in no way an attempt at a solution — it is just an exercise at deflecting the issues.”
  • Not pictured: “Lebanon is boycotting the conference. Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab nations with peace treaties with Israel, are sending only mid-level officials,” per the Associated Press’s Matthew Lee. “Their acceptances of invitations to Bahrain, similar to those of other Arab states, include the caveat that they will not support a peace deal that the Palestinians won’t accept.” 
  • A huge question mark: “Persian Gulf power brokers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are main sponsors for the conference, but have not yet specified what they might pay to underwrite Kushner’s plans,” my colleagues Anne Gearan, Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris reported

The lack of a proposed political solution, which Kushner has promised to unveil after Israeli elections in the fall, is the biggest impediment to buy-in from the Palestinians and support from Arab partners. The administration has thus far not publicly committed to supporting a separate Palestinian state and their glossy, 40 page economic proposal did not make mention of a two-state or other political solution, either.

  • What Kushner and his colleagues don’t seem to realize is that Palestinians don’t need or want handouts,” Mohammad Shtayyeh, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, wrote in The Post last night. “We need freedom and our rights and for Israel to end its domination over our lives and economy.”
  • More from Shtayyeh: “It is clearer than ever that the Kushner plan will be designed to undermine and deny Palestinian rights and further entrench Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people. The plan won’t call for the creation of an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution or for Israel to grant Palestinians their rights and equality in a single state. This is a Trump-Netanyahu blueprint for permanent apartheid, not peace.”
  • Avoids sticky issues: The workshop is not designed to address “the most difficult elements of a potential peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, such as borders, land claims and the future of Jerusalem,” Anne, Souad and Loveday Morris reported
  • Rosy outlook: Instead, “U.S. negotiators hope to give Palestinians a glimpse of what an influx of international capital and new partnerships among Israeli and Arab businesses could offer. The proposals outline more than 175 projects, almost all of which would require buy-in from Palestinian leaders who refuse to meet with Kushner’s team.” 
  • But: “Israel has already blocked or slowed less extensive Palestinian economic projects on grounds that they put Israel’s security at risk …. The most ambitious idea is probably a new transit corridor through Israel that would connect the two Palestinian areas, something the current right-wing Israeli political coalition would be highly unlikely to accept.” 
  • Analogy of the day: “Our problem is a political one, not an economic one,” Munib al Masri, a billionaire industrialist known for being the wealthiest Palestinian who rejected the conference's invitation, told Anne, Souad and Loveday. “It’s like going to the wedding and the bride and groom aren’t there.” 

Some experts in Washington also say the Trump administration's plan means little in the absence of a broader political settlement that addresses the Israel side of the equation. 

  • “The conference is a total waste of time,” Ilan Goldenberg, who directs the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security think tank and just arrived back from Bahrain, told Power Up. 
  • The former Obama administration official who worked on Israel-Palestinian issues says the “the Palestinians are totally alienated”: “The Trump administration, in addition to moving the embassy to Jerusalem, cut [aid] to the Palestinians, cut funding for [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency]. And after basically boycotting the Palestinians for a year and a half, they've come out with this fanciful plan that is completely unimplementable because fundamentally, Israel still controls economic life in the West Bank.”
  • Kicker: “In this grand plan, the Trump administration asked the Israelis to do absolutely nothing,” Goldenberg added. 

There are some optimists, however, who believe that Kushner has the opportunity to establish some goodwill with the Palestinians and participating Arab countries. Ambassador Dennis Ross, the former U.S. envoy to the Middle East during the Clinton administration, argues that it “could end up making a real contribution and even potentially lend credence to the broader Trump peace plan.” 

  • Show not tell: " . . . [T]he Trump administration needs to show it can actually do something real and tangible for Palestinians,” Ross wrote in Foreign Policy last week. “While stabilization is not a panacea, it just might make the public more willing to consider the political part of the U.S. plan.”
  • View from the embassy: “There will be a significant showing from the Palestinian business community, and we will work with them as best we can,” David Friedman, the U.S.'s ambassador to Israel, told Al Jazeera over the weekend. “I don’t know that the Palestinian Authority is the last word on how to create a better life for the Palestinians. The Palestinians themselves should have a say in that.” 

Meanwhile in the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians are protesting the economic conference. 

  • “Palestinians on Monday poured into the streets of West Bank cities, from Hebron to Nablus, many burning effigies of President Trump and Bahrain’s king. Protesters in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, carried a giant coffin labeled 'Bahrain workshop,' and signs reading 'The Deal of the Century is doomed,' per the Associated Press's Matt Lee
 

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BREAKING: “Iranian officials slammed the Trump administration Tuesday for new sanctions targeting the country’s leadership, saying the measures permanently closed the path to diplomacy and that the White House had ‘become mentally crippled’ under the current president,” my colleagues Erin Cunningham and Ruth Englash report

  • Harsh words for Trump: “Speaking in a televised address, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the restrictions targeting the supreme leader ‘outrageous and idiotic’ and said they showed ‘certain failure’ on the part of the Trump administration to isolate Iran.” 
  • “You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?” Rouhani said on state television, referring to the U.S.'s plans to sanction Mohammad Javad Zarif later this month.
  • Twitter diplomacy: “Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy [Zarif] is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Twitter. “Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.” 

Details on the sanctions: “Trump said the new ‘hard-hitting’ sanctions will deny [Khamenei] and other top officials access to financial resources,” our colleagues William Branigin and Erin reported. The Treasury Department imposed additional sanctions on eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The administration previously labeled the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

Iran’s new threat: “ . . . Iran’s navy chief warned the United States on Monday that Iranian forces could shoot down more surveillance drones if they violate the country’s airspace,” William and Erin write. “Those comments were made as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf." 

Trump also claimed he can attack Iran without approval: Rebutting the position of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump claimed that he would not need congressional approval to attack Iran during an interview with the Hill.

At the White House

TRUMP DISMISSES LATEST ACCUSER: “President Trump on Monday said New York-based writer E. Jean Carroll was ‘totally lying’ when she accused him of sexually assaulting her more than two decades ago, adding that Carroll is ‘not my type,’ our colleague John Wagner reports.

  • Carroll responds: “In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night, Carroll responded: ‘I love that I’m not his type. Don’t you love that you’re not his type?’ She noted that Trump had previously criticized the appearance of a former Miss Universe, taking aim at her weight,” John writes.
  • A refresher on her allegations: “Carroll alleged that the assault took place more than 20 years ago in a dressing room of an upscale Manhattan department store. She detailed the alleged encounter in a book excerpt published Friday in New York magazine,” John writes. “In the Post interview, Carroll repeated the allegations, saying that during a chance encounter with the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, Trump attacked her in a dressing room. She said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out.”
  • Top New York Times editor says paper was too cautious in coverage: National media outlets have been criticized for not devoting more attention to Carroll’s allegations. Times executive editor Dean Baquet said on Monday that there was merit to some of those critiques. “We were overly cautious,” Baquet told a Times editor
  • Meanwhile the NY Post reportedly killed a story about Carroll: “The New York Post's former top editor, a supporter of President Trump and an old lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch who returned to the conservative tabloid as an adviser in early 2019, ordered the removal of a story about writer Jean Carroll's sexual assault allegations against President Trump, two people familiar with the matter told CNN Business,” CNN's Oliver Darcy and Marianne Garvey report. “The Post's story about Carroll's sexual assault allegations was mysteriously scrubbed from the tabloid's website on Friday afternoon. The link to the story, which had been written by reporter Joe Tacopino, directed readers to a dead or 404 page.”

The People

MUST READ: In exclusive interviews with The Post's Anthony Faiola, Gen. Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera gave new details of the failed uprising to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. 

Figuera, once Maduro's trusted spy chief, emerged as a "surprise conspirator" when the U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced his uprising April 30 to oust Maduro. When the uprising failed, Figuera landed in the hands of U.S. operatives in Colombia: 

  • "After nearly two months in hiding here in the Colombian capital, protected around the clock by a security detail, Figuera arrived in the United States on Monday armed with allegations about Maduro’s government: The illicit gold deals. The Hezbollah cells working in Venezuela. The extent of Cuban influence inside Maduro’s Miraflores Palace," Anthony reports. 
  • Read more of the surreal details here.

In the Media

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