The derisive reception for the first stage of the US “peace plan” for the Middle East is deserved
Some political performances illuminate an issue; others, like this week’s charade in Manama, Bahrain, are meant to conceal. After all the Trump administration’s grand talk of “the deal of the century” in the Middle East, the launch of its first, economic aspect has been both absurd and bathetic. The Palestinian refusal to attend has meant that Israel is also absent. This is a play missing its stars and half the cast as well; the Arab states involved have sent lower-tier officials. Even its instigator, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, talked of a workshop rather than a conference; of a vision rather than a plan.
Economy-first approaches have been tried before, and failed even with realistic roadmaps and more trusted interlocutors. The gap between Mr Kushner’s illusion and the realities of this seven-decade conflict could hardly be starker. It is encapsulated by the Peace for Prosperity document – more brochure than blueprint – and the fact that several of its photos are images of programmes cancelled after the US withdrew aid to Palestinians, to predictably grim effect.