Earlier this month, representatives of 20 countries sat around a table in the White House to discuss ways to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That same day, on a road inside Gaza, a bomb exploded, striking a convoy carrying a high-level Palestinian delegation, including the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister. The group was traveling through the Hamas-dominated coastal enclave to inaugurate a new water purification plant.
If the roadside bomb, which failed to kill any of its targets, highlighted the deadly rivalries that continue to plague the beleaguered territory, the White House conference put on display the fierce dilemmas that the region’s players face in dealing with Gaza.
The most startling fact about the Washington gathering was that no Palestinian representative attended. The presence of Hamas, the militant organization that still dominates Gaza, was never in the cards. And the Palestinian Authority refused to participate, as relations with Washington continued to deteriorate in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Only days ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lobbed a series of insults at the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, calling him a “son of a dog,” which is more offensive in the original Arabic.