Book creates context in which Trump’s recent moves on Jerusalem mesh with plot to snuff out Palestinian nationalism
From an Israeli point of view, the most intriguing revelation in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury,” which has sparked both, is a blast from the past of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Wolff, former White House firebrand and strongman Steve Bannon expounded on the Trump administration’s formula for solving the conflict. “Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza,” says Bannon. “Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”
The discovery that the White House was contemplating a formula that negates Palestinian nationhood and advocates a return to the days when “territorial compromise” with Jordan, Egypt (and Syria) was the main motto of Middle East peacemaking would be more sensational if it was less ambiguous. Bannon is quoted as saying that Sheldon Adelson and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are “all in” on the plan, but it’s not completely clear whether their supposed acquiescence only applies to “moving the Embassy to Jerusalem on day one,” which precedes the “all in” assertion, or whether it also encompasses the hairbrained scheme for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which follows it. Judging by context, the latter is true.
But whether or not the plan – which no serious student of the current Middle East would deem realistic – was worked out in advance between Adelson, Netanyahu and Bannon or whether it was simply the arrogant boast of an ignoramus on Middle East affairs, the proposed Jordan-Egypt solution highlights the extreme right-wing axis that has dominated U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East policies during his first year in office. It is an alliance that Netanyahu appears to have cultivated, with the assistance, or at the direction, of his Las Vegas benefactor, Adelson. All three operate under the premise ascribed to Bannon that “the further right you were, the more correct you were on Israel.”