So, as I suspected (and posted), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t coming today to promote implementation of the so-called “deal of the century,” much less the only component of it that PM Binyamin Netanyahu has embraced: annexation of the West Bank or parts thereof. Indeed, Pompeo and his minions have been busily telling annexation enthusiasts that heaven can wait, at least till July (when it can be deferred again).
After I posted, ToI reported: “The top US diplomat for the Middle East, David Schenker, declined to comment on the status of the annexation discussions, noting that a joint US-Israeli mapping committee had not yet completed its work in determining the specific boundaries that might be proposed by Israel or accepted by the United States.” That sounds to me like diplo-speak for “forget it!”
Then Pompeo himself was quoted that the decision whether to annex was up to Israel alone. That is: if you go ahead with it and get into trouble, you’re on your own. Hey, wasn’t it Trump‘s deal? How typical of the Trumpian habit to throw no-longer-useful allies under the bus or cut them off at the knees (choose your metaphor).
About that “joint US-Israeli mapping committee”: Most likely it has not yet begun its work — if only for the reason that it doesn’t exist — and never will. Has anyone heard who is on that committee, when it began mapping and where? Is it agreed to by the new Israeli corona coalition? But I digress.
Seems I was also pretty close to the mark when I figured that Pompeo’s urgent mission was to secure an endorsement of Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, As I sat down to morning coffee with cottage cheese from Chinese-owned Tnuva Dairies, I heard the latest twist: what Pompeo really seeks so urgently is the scaling down of Chinese investments in Israel. Trump was more than OK about deals with China — in fact, he was on the verge of concluding a massive trade deal with Beijing — and was full of praise for his pal President Xi’s handling of the virus until he needed a bogeyman to blame for Trump’s own disastrous bungling of the pandemic. Now it’s all hands on deck to repel the Chinese boarders, and Trump’s rhetoric is approaching the racist heights of “yellow peril” days.
Full disclosure: in a rare confluence of views, I too had serious reservations about Chinese — or any foreign — takeover of vital Israeli assets, such as proposed acquisition of a port and a desalination plant. Even Tnuva cottage cheese no longer tastes like the quintessential Israeli delicacy as advertised. But is it a prompt from the latest Trumpism that should determine our national interest? What if he makes up with Xi and leaves us high and dry?
But we, and Netanyahu/Gantz, need not get too exercised. Just as the “favor” that Trump demanded from Ukraine was to announce an investigation of Joe Biden & son, not to launch an actual investigation, the sane will presumably do about Chinese investments. Let’s see how many annexed settlements that will buy in the “mapping committee.”