Trump Administration 'Threatens to Pull Plug' on Gaza Reconstruction Plan

Trump's peace team frustrated by Hamas, which it blames for freeze in peace process, New York Times reports, and future of plan to rebuild is in question

Amir Tibon
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Palestinian boys walk through the wreckage of a building that was damaged by Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on July 15, 2018.
Palestinian boys walk through the wreckage of a building that was damaged by Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on July 15, 2018.Credit: \ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is considering abandoning its focus on economic development in the Gaza Strip, as a result of what it describes as a lack of any goodwill on the part of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization controlling the coastal enclave. According to a report published Monday in the New York Times, the administration's peace team is frustrated by the lack of progress in Gaza, and is threatening to "pull the plug" on an international plan to rehabilitate Gaza from the damage wrought by previous wars between Hamas and Israel.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told the paper that Hamas "has driven Gaza to a state of despair" and that it is to blame for the current stalemate. Last month, Kushner and Trump's special envoy for the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, made a five-country visit to the Middle East which was focused on raising funds for economic and humanitarian projects that would benefit Gaza, mainly from the oil-rich Gulf States. 

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According to the report, the funding effort has failed due to the political and security situation on the ground in Gaza, which has consistently deteriorated in recent months. The story stated that "no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza," leading Kushner and Greenblatt to rethink their strategy of focusing on Gaza as a first step before publishing their much-awaited peace plan.

Kushner also said that the administration's peace plan is "mostly ready" but still didn't provide a specific date for its release, stating only that "when the time is right, we'll put it out."

According to the New York Times, and an article Kushner and Greenblatt published on Friday in The Washington Post, the administration is willing to work with a Palestinian unity government that will include both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as long as Hamas adheres to the following principles: recognition of Israel, rejection of violence and terrorism, and commitment to engagement in the peace process.