Experts on Bannon’s idea of giving Gaza to Egypt, West Bank to Jordan
In an excerpt shared by Michael Wolff of his new book about the Trump White House, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Bannon is quoted sharing his policy ideas on Israel with former Chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes: “Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon.. is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.” “Where’s Donald on this?” asked [Roger] Ailes… “He’s totally onboard.””
We asked top Middle East experts whether Bannon’s idea of giving Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan was realistic, and whether or not they believe Trump was ever onboard with that idea?
The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller: “I can see — minus Netanyahu, who obviously knows that this is a crazy idea — others buying into that. I can see somebody mentioning that to Trump, and I can see him saying, ‘You know? That’s an idea worth exploring.’ I suspect there were others who were competing for the President’s mind, including Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who probably looked at this idea and said this is really not going to work. This one clearly belongs not just in the America First category, but the Israel First category, but it clearly took a dive.”
The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky: “I don’t believe that is something that is possible because both the Egyptians and Jordanians have made it clear that they don’t want Gaza or the West Bank respectively. Each one feels that they would be viewed as selling out Palestinian nationalism, and it doesn’t help them domestically either – they would be blamed for too compromising. If that was the solution, you know, people would have thought of it long ago. I think these are two non-starters.”
CFR’s Elliott Abrams: “I have no idea whether any of what appears in this book is accurate. But I have long believed, and said publicly, that an independent and sovereign Palestinian State is unrealistic and is not actually viable. It would fall onto either Israel or Jordan, and it is much more logical that it should have some relationship with Jordan, which is a Muslim Arab state. It does seem from the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that the President is taking a realistic perspective, but I can’t say how that affects his view of Palestinian statehood.”
Brookings’ Tamara Cofman Wittes: “The idea is delusional. Egypt’s current government is far more interested in sealing its territory off from Gaza than in absorbing it. Jordan’s King Hussein explicitly gave up any claim to the West Bank in 1988, ceding interest in the territory to the PLO and stating that ‘Jordan is not Palestine.’ No Arab government is even faintly interested in taking ‘the Palestinian problem’ off of Israel’s hands. As to Trump’s being on board, who knows if he was, or if he would be now.”
ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us… “I agree that it would be good for Egypt to take over Gaza because Egypt is a much more reasonable country than the terrorist regime of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria, it’s worthwhile considering Jordan controlling the areas that are heavy-populated with Arabs, but not the rest of it. If Egypt and Jordan could end the terrorism, then it’d be something to consider, but at this point, I don’t think there is any solution in sight that could work because the Arabs still do not accept Israel as a Jewish State.”