Jared Kushner continued his long-shot quest for Mideast peace on Thursday in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but as the AP account of the sessions notes, expectations are low and skepticism high. As they probably should be, writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post. Still, he finds a kernel of optimism in the changing dynamics of the region, particularly in "a budding Sunni Arab coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan." A key part of the new strategy revolves around getting Hamas, which controls Gaza, to move away from their hard-line backers in Qatar. (This is an "offshoot" of the current feud between Qatar and its moderate Arab neighbors, writes Ignatius.) This could bring Gaza back into the fold of the Palestinian Authority, and a newly united PA could speak for all Palestinians in future peace talks.
"The Trump administration seems to envision an 'outside-in' strategy for breaking the Palestinian-Israeli stalemate," writes Ignatius. "The United States, it’s hoped, could eventually bring together Israelis and leaders of the major Arab states for a peace conference," and the president's close ties with Israel and Gulf Arabs could help on that front. The White House sees all this as a potential "game-changer," but Ignatius warns that 50 years of failed deal-making "sadly warn us that a new initiative probably won’t work." Plus, President Trump's troubles in the US won't help in the delivery of any promises. But, Ignatius concludes, "the opportunities for trade, investment and security cooperation between Israel and the Arabs have never been greater." Click for the full column.