The Trump Administration is about to unfurl a new peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.
It will be done in stages beginning with an economic workshop in Bahrain attended by most of the major Arab states, Israel, and the United States.
My question is, who represents the Palestinians?
This is the BIG question that was never asked in the past by the international diplomatic community in their failed efforts at peacemaking. It is not being asked of the Trump team as they set about introducing a new deal to solve an unsolvable problem.
It is unsolvable because the body they think represents the Palestinians does not represent them.
The BIG mistake of the past couple of decades was to assume that the Palestinian Authority represents the Palestinian people.
The last time the Palestinians called for national elections Hamas won the majority vote.
That's why, in 2007, a Palestinian civil war erupted in the Gaza Strip when Fatah came to impose Palestinian Authority rule and the victorious Hamas struck back at the PA attempt to usurp power in Gaza.
So I ask again, this time to the Trump team and all those naive diplomats supporting their efforts. Who you do think represents the Palestinians?
This is a vitally important question, don't you agree? After all, you want to be negotiating with the partner who can deliver the peace you are seeking.
In this case it won't be Mahmoud Abbas.
It won't be Mahmoud Abbas because if anybody noticed, at the end of 2018, Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Why did he do it?
Because, according to the Palestinian Constitution, if the President of the PA, currently Mahmoud Abbas, was unable to continue in his role due to ill health, removal, or death, the Speaker of the PLC is duty bound to replace him with the leader of the largest political faction - which is Hamas.
In other words, Hamas is one cough away from usurping power by default over the Palestinian Authority.
So may I ask one final time. Who do the peacemakers assume speaks on behalf of the Palestinians?
If they guess Mahmoud Abbas, they would be wrong.
This is the reason Mahmoud Abbas is refusing to participate in the Trump peace plan. He knows he represents nobody but his immediate coterie of family and friends in his kleptocracy.
That's why, according to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of people are being interred in detention camps in Jericho for challenging his corrupt rule with at least twenty eight cases of torture at the hands of their Palestinian jailers.
The reason the Trump plan is going nowhere is because there is no Palestinian leader willing or able to deliver the goods.
It may be the best solution for the Palestinians but that is not an issue, not for the unelected Palestinian Authority, and certainly not for Hamas, the Palestinian popular choice, who are adamant that they will never make peace with Israel because all of "Palestine," from the river to the sea, belongs to them.
Surely, based on these factors, the Trump team should be negotiating with Hamas.
Good luck with that. It will have even less success than trying to negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas who is incapable of delivering the goods, even if he wanted.
Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.