Deal of the Century: Why US plan to resolve the Middle East conflict could cause more harm

Wednesday February 26 2020

 

By Andrey Ontikov

The American "deal of the century", designed to put an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is more of a bombshell yet rather than wound healing on the body of the Middle East.

The opposing parties themselves, as well as concerned external players, are getting gradually divided: those advocating Donald Trump's plan and those dead set against it.

The UK, which had just left the European Union, was one of the last to support Washington's holdings on February 6.

 At the same time, the EU itself was previously opposed to the US initiative. The League of Arab States (LAS) has also rejected the "deal of the century" out of hand, recalling that in 2002, it submitted its own plan for the Middle East settlement, the so-called Arab Peace Initiative.

Meanwhile, Russia is still exercising a more reserved attitude. Initially, Moscow’s representatives pointed to the necessity of studying the details of this plan with due regard to the stances of Israel and Palestine themselves.

But on February 2, the President Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov made it clear that the conflict settlement outlook based on American proposals was rather vague.

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“We see the reaction of the Palestinians, we see the reaction of a number of Arab states that are rejecting this plan in solidarity with the Palestinians. This, obviously, makes one think about its feasibility. There is a whole range of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. It is glaringly obvious that some of this plan's provisions do not quite conform with provisions of the Security Council resolution."

Let's recall that on January 28, US President Donald Trump along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the "deal of the century", a 180-page document that describes the political and economic parameters for overcoming the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Its key proposals include the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, or rather in the suburb of Abu Dis. At the same time, all of Jerusalem will become the single and indivisible capital of Israel. This was rather ironical to say the least!

The latter also has the right to preserve Jewish settlements on the West Bank of River Jordan. At the same time, Palestine is supposed to hand over minor territories south of the Gaza strip to establish an industrial cluster there.

 Communications with this enclave are proposed to be arranged by means of an underground tunnel. The new state is forbidden to have its own army, with only a small security force to maintain internal order. $50 billion is allocated to support the Palestinian economy.

And although in this form the "deal of the century" looks more like a stillborn child at first glance — Palestine has already rejected it and, moreover, notified the US and Israel of the termination of any relations with them, — in practice, the situation may well develop unambiguously.

 It is enough to recall, for instance, that it was in Bahrain where the economic part of the American plan was presented in June last year.

Representatives of a number of other Gulf monarchies, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, also attended the conference. Besides, Manama was for the first time visited by Israeli journalists and entrepreneurs.

After the "deal of the century" was presented in its full, Egypt did not immediately reject it, but called for a careful examination.

Conspicuous is the fact that just a few days after the Arab League's extraordinary meeting on the "deal of the century", head of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan (the country's de facto leader) Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda.

Moreover, according to some Israeli media, the consultations were organized by representatives of the UAE, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt made aware of them.

Following the talks, it was decided to start the process of normalizing relations between the two countries.

All these circumstances have given cause to many experts to say that there are countries in the Arab world that oppose Donald Trump's plan verbally but are actually ready to support it, with some of them even willing to provide considerable financial support.

In any case, there are more questions than answers as to how the "deal of the century" is going to be put into practice.

In the meantime, it is clear that the one to benefit will be Donald Trump himself, who is actively using his pro-Israeli course in the election campaign.

 The same is true about Benjamin Netanyahu, who also faces a parliamentary election in March, the third one in less than a year. Following the previous two votes, he proved unable to form a government.

And of course, the current situation is also a good chance for Russia. After all, Palestine and the entire Arab world consider it perhaps the only force able to turn back the tide of the current negative trends.