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Trump’s dangerous “deal of the century”

Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, May 23

US President Donald Trump concluded this week his first state visit to the Middle East and Europe, and returned to Washington satisfied and pleased. From the President’s numerous meetings and public statements we can say one thing for sure: Trump is determined to create a new order in the Middle East. According to multiple White House sources, Trump wants to form a new strategic bloc in the region, consisting of Israel and moderate Arab states, which will act to block Iran and its proxies in the region. This plan is unsurprising. What is shocking, however, is that is seems to be going even more smoothly than the biggest optimists had expected: Arab leaders who have met with the President have reportedly agreed to normalize their ties with Tel Aviv without demanding any concessions from Israel. This is an unprecedented piece of news that should be alarming to any supporter of the two-state solution. Whereas Gulf states, in the past, expressed willingness to work with Tel Aviv only in return for its adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative, this demand seems to have been lifted. What Arab leaders are now requesting is a mere freezing of settlement construction outside the major blocs, and a series of confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians. In other words, Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” really means a normalization of Arab ties with Israel in return for no Israeli concessions. This is simply a de facto Arab acceptance of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Even more concerning, perhaps, is the fact that Trump not only provides Israel with a carte blanche, but actually demands concessions from the Palestinians: an end to the so-called Palestinian “incitement” and a freeze on wages to Palestinian prisoners. These developments, if proven true, are disastrous. They will empower the current nationalistic government in Israel and allow Benjamin Netanyahu to stay in power for many more years. They will weaken the Israeli opposition while strengthening religious zealots. Most unfortunately, they will burry the two-state solution forever, and undermine whatever little legitimacy President Abbas has left among the Palestinian public. – Saleh al-Noami

 

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