If the so-called 'Deal of the Century' goes through bearing any resemblance to the details that have been leaked - it won't be the first time the region's borders have been drawn with complete disregard for the region's inhabitants.
Making major headlines this week is a leaked document, first reported by the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, very worryingly called the 'Deal of the Century'. Many suspect, due to ties with the newspaper, that Netanyahu and his party were involved in leaking the document. However, the US-drafted document, quite clearly in favour of Israeli interests, has not been met with particularly positive feedback.
The ‘Deal of the Century’ is a detailed and outwardly uninformed peace plan between Palestine and Israel.
The deal includes actions forbidden by international law, such as population transfer, in addition to a total disregard of the large Palestinian refugee population waiting on their ‘right of return.’
Palestine, or ‘New Palestine’ as it has been dubbed, will not have a right to form a military and by default possess any heavy weaponry. Instead, ‘New Palestine’ will pay Israel for national security against foreign aggression.
The document explicitly threatens aggression - a bizarre addition to a 'peace' treaty.
The news report reads, “If the PLO agrees to the terms of this agreement and Hamas or Islamic Jihad do not agree, the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be held responsible and in another round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the US will back Israel to personally harm Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.”
Considering this deal has been simmering under the surface since Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner announced this initiative two years ago, there remain many areas of improvement before this can be a realistic outcome.
The official announcement is set to be made after Ramadan and, if the leaked document has any legitimacy, which most suspect it does, will include the heavy financial support of several ‘oil producing countries’ in addition to EU states and the US.
One cannot but speculate that these leaks are done with the intent of measuring public reaction to, in turn, amend the agreement accordingly.
While this may likely be the most aggressive normalisation project with primarily Israeli interests at heart, there have been other, subtler, noteworthy efforts.
Possibly in the lead up to the announcements, some have noticed a pattern from Gulf ‘oil-producing’ states. For example, despite some criticism, the United Arab Emirates has decided to include Israel in the World Expo 2020.
One Israeli report reads, “Israel has been openly and proudly publicizing its upcoming participation in the Dubai event."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement lauding Israel’s participation, noting: “This is another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and in the region.”
These moves have been well received in the United Arab Emirates as well. UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash has gone on record saying, “The decision of many Arab countries not to talk with Israel has complicated finding a solution over the decades,” and that, “many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” and called on other Arab states to open lines of communication with Israel.
In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to the Sultanate of Oman, UAE’s neighbour, late last year.
It is seldom that these GCC actors make any political moves or exercises in soft power without the consent and support of Saudi Arabia. Different sources have reported that, through a set of leaked memos, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia are pushing heavily for the PA to accept Kushner’s 'deal'.
Abbas rejected the offer, saying supporting US President Donald Trump's deal would be "the end of his political life," the paper reported on Tuesday, citing leaked diplomatic reports based on conversations between the two leaders.
Jordan and Egypt already have standing bilateral agreements despite their general population’s disagreement with this stance. These concerns were echoed by other Arab voices this past March when the Union of Arab parliaments sought to release a policy recommendation that called to cease the normalisation of relations with Israel. This was met by protests from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt.
However, Jordanian Parliament representative Atef al Tarawneh insisted the recommendation remain. It was the Kuwaiti National representative that suggested adding this final statement. Marzouq al Ghanim also stressed a need to discuss Palestine and Jerusalem and said, “Our enemy [the Israeli occupation] does not want us to discuss the issue of Palestine even in our speeches.”
However, despite this resistance, it seems that Israel is increasingly edging its way into the Middle East. With its public relations campaign in full-speed, it appears that several powerful and rich countries have already agreed in principle to the deal.
While it is not likely that Palestinian leaders or the people are happy with the details, or would be inclined, to agree to the treaty as it stands – it is not impossible to imagine if adjustments are made.
This is mostly due to the might of the global powers included in the agreement – it anoints each party with a heavy responsibility, ultimately forcing everyone to play a part in the ‘solution.’
A large part of Palestinian sentiment is deep frustration. This agreement does not provide the Palestinian side what they justly seek, not by a long-shot, and neither did the Oslo Agreements.
Arguably, more importantly, no Arab party had a role in the Sykes-Picot Agreement that demarcates Arab lands today. So, it would not be the first time in history an unfavourable and one-sided agreement dictates new borders.
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