By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
It seems that anyone trying to know the truth about the “deal of the century” of which the US leaked some details, is like someone chasing a group of ghosts and illusions.
About two years ago, US statements concerning a final peace settlement of the Palestine issue began to emerge, in which the term the “deal of the century” was used. There were several statements by Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, US Middle East envoy concerning the deal. And there were many press leaks, but without officially revealing its contents or clauses.
Remarkably, the world was preoccupied with it, researchers, analysts, politicians and experts were discussing it, without having any official text on which they can rely. The US has deliberately played the ambiguity and delay game… It has repeatedly announced that it is about to launch the deal. However, when the launch date approaches, it postpones it for various reasons, usually related to political or regional circumstances. Expectations were that the deal would be launched in January 2018, then it was postponed till the following month, then to the month after, then to May, and so on and so forth until it was announced that it will be revealed after holding the US mid-term elections in November 2018, then till early 2019, then till after the Israeli elections in April 2019, then till June, then lately till after the Israeli elections that will be held in September 2019. Moreover, throughout this period, only the economic part of the deal was announced, which took place at the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop held in Bahrain, on 25/6/2019, which was a complete disappointment for those who had high hopes for it, in the midst of wide Palestinian and Arab boycott. As for the most important part of the deal, i.e., the political part, it has not yet been revealed.
Thus, one finds himself chasing “ghosts,” and trying to paint a drawing of the deal that he imagines.
This conduct of the US doesn’t seem “innocent”; for all the data and leaks that we have, and the US behavior on the ground, indicate that there is no genuine “deal,” nor any historic settlement between the two sides. That we are facing a fake title trying to sell “Illusions,” and witnessing a “shameless” merchant who knows that his merchandise is rotten and has no market. Thus, he resorts to using resonant empty slogans. He tries to take advantage of the mystery, rumors and leaks to prepare psychologically the Palestinian and Arab environment to accept the deal’s requirements, or to feel weak and helpless in front of the coming “ghost” who can neither be resisted or challenged!!
A deal is usually held between two sides, and the main two sides in this case (The Palestinians and the Arabs vs the Israelis), until now, were not offered any official deal. The term “century” or “era” indicates that there is a great historic achievement, however, all what was leaked could be historic to the Israelis if done, but to the Palestinians it would be catastrophic.
It seems that the US side, which knows that the deal would be rejected by the Palestinians, has tactically overridden the Palestinians, and communicated with the influential Arab regimes (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan…), specifically known as the US-linked “moderate” Arab axis. It wanted the deal to be generally accepted and consequently isolate and single out the Palestinian side so that the “deal” would be imposed on it. At the same time, the US is working on integrating Israel into the Arab medium, and “the normalization” of its official relations, making it the “police of the region,” without the need for a settlement with the Palestinians.
In such circumstances, it is easy to “end” the Palestine issue without having to reach an agreed “settlement.” The resistance forces would be overthrown, and all reform, change and revival movements—especially those known as “political Islam” movements— would be chased. This may happen at a time in which the Arab region is occupied with sectarian ethnic conflicts that are depleting its wealth and resources/potentials.
It seems that the US is not interested in convincing the Palestinian side of what it has to offer, rather it is only concerned with the approval of the Israelis, and with arranging the situation according to their will, conditions and specifications. Hence, it began to actually resolve all pending or “insolvable” files; it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Currently, it is seeking to end the right of return of Palestinian refugees, by trying to cancel the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and by pressuring the host countries (especially Jordan and Lebanon) to naturalize the refugees. Thus, it is trying to establish facts on the ground that are expected, as time passes, to be accepted by the Arab and international communities. Meanwhile, people continue to chase the illusions of the “deal of the century” and its ghosts!!
Based on the above, and by analyzing the US statements and leaks over the past two years, while comparing them with the US conduct on the ground, we may extrapolate five main features of the so-called “deal of the century,” while other features are considered details of these five:
First: Moving from “settling” the Palestine issue within a “peace agreement” framework, to “liquidating” it by imposing facts on the ground. Eliminating all “final status” issues by canceling the Palestinian right of return, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, keeping the Jewish settlements in the West Bank (WB), and continuing Israeli domination of the borders, water resources and airspace.
Second: Overturning the “two-state” project, and establishing self-rule for the Palestinians (That may be named a state!!) in the Gaza Strip and parts of the WB, in such a manner the real sovereignty goes to Israel.
Third: The economic peace idea by focusing on economic development projects, while overlooking the core of the conflict with the Zionist project and its illegal brutal occupation of Palestine.
Fourth: Normalization before settlement: By forging formal relations with Arab regimes before reaching a peace settlement that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel would agree on; which was previously set as a condition by the Arab regimes.
Fifth: Deviating the compass of the conflict: that lets Israel be a “normal” entity in the region, that allies with the “moderate” Arab regimes to face what is called “extremism and terrorism” and the “political Islam” movements; or to face Iran… It would also occupy the region with sectarian ethnic conflicts which would deplete the human and material resources, hence making the Zionist project “the master” of the region and its thick stick.
There is no room in this article for further details, nor for forecasts and expectations. However, despite the seriousness of the situation, Israel’s entrenchment, and the Arab and Islamic weakness, retardation and division, there are huge obstacles facing the deal, and the Ummah is still capable of overthrowing and abortıng it. The Palestinian people remain firm and steadfast in their land, and neither the US nor Israel can impose their will on them. They will sooner or later succeed in regaining their rights.
This article was originally published in Arabic on “Arabi 21” on 30/8/2019.
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 9/9/2019