"Deal of the century" neither just nor sensible

China Military Online
Li Wei
2020-02-07 19:11:05

By Yu Guoqing

The New Middle East Peace Plan recently rolled out by the US has a resounding subtitle - A Vision to Improve the Lives of Palestinian and Israeli People. The comprehensive 180-page document consists of multiple appendixes, including conceptual maps, framework and charts, and it doesn’t look like a rigorous peace plan, but more like a bidding document waiting for the highest bid.

The League of Arab States held an emergency foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo on February 1, announcing the irrejection of the US-proposed New Plan and the support for Palestine to have its legal rights. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said at the meeting that his country refused to accept the New Plan and would cut off all ties with Israel and the US.

Washington began to hatch this New Middle East Peace Plan that it touted as the “deal of the century” long ago. It released part of it last June, asking Palestine to give up its core sovereignty in exchange for investment. Then on January 28 this year, Trump, when meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington, unveiled other parts of the deal, recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s inseparable capital, Israel has sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements are Israeli territory. However, all such contents were rejected by the Palestinian side with good reasons.

The US has recently announced the main contents of the deal for the following considerations.

President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel unveiled the Middle East plan at the White House on Tuesday.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

First of all, the US needs to bolster up the new Israeli administration. Israel is going to have another election early March this year. Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, also went to meet with Trump in January along with Netanyahu, and his party went horse and horse with Netanyahu’s Likud Party in the two parliamentary elections of 2019. Basically the next Israeli government will either be led by one of them or be a combination of both parties. That Trump announced the “deal of the century” in front of both of them was a signal to the world that Washington is going to back Israel no matter who the next prime minister is, which is a reassurance for the two candidates.

Second, Trump is trying to win the votes of American Jews in the presidential election to be held in the second half of this year.

Third, the first foreign visit that Trump made after taking office was to the Middle East, where he visited Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, and now he is eager to achieve something on the Middle East issue for the upcoming election.

The so-called “deal of the century” that the American government put forth without consulting the stakeholders has inherent flaws. It goes against the international community’s basic consensus on resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict, which is the “two-state solution”. This solution, based on the Arab Peace Initiative proposed at the Arab Summit Conference in 2002, called for establishing an independent state of Palestine pursuant to the Resolution No.242 and No.338 of the UN Security Council.

Now the US and Israel try to replace this “two-state solution” with the “deal of the century”, which, however, shows no respect to Palestine’s basic rights and violates the UN’s resolutions and the international law.

It’s clear that the so-called “deal of the century” is to serve America’s own interests only. There are many descriptions in the deal about America’s relation with the New Plan. For instance, it participates in the “design and arrangement” of the New Middle East Peace Plan, calls on other Muslim countries to “absorb” and “arrange for” Palestinian refugees, and expects Arab countries in the Gulf region and the EU to “invest in” Palestinian infrastructure. In other words, the US doesn’t want to spend a penny on “improving the lives of the Palestinians”, and expects the international community to foot the bill.

What’s the most unacceptable issue is that while the US claims that the New Plan is “open” to Palestine, it actually sets a condition for the country, that is to way Palestine has to pay a higher price if it doesn’t accept the deal. It’s like business blackmailing - asking the other party to make a choice based on your own conditions and principles. The Palestinian leader has made it very clear that “our rights are not for sale and not up for bargaining either.”

The “deal of the century” that the US has cooked up out of its own interests is neither just nor sensible and contravenes the UN Security Council’s resolutions and the international law. It won’t be able to contribute to the Middle East peace process.

(The author is with the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

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