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The deal of the century may be just around the corner

Palestinians stage a protest against the 'Deal of the Century', planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians stage a protest against the 'Deal of the Century', planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

It has been over a year since Trump and Al-Sisi met in the White House and announced the deal of the century, without giving any details about it other than that it would work to stabilise the region, promote its development, and revive the economies of concerned countries (i.e. the countries surrounding Israel, formerly known as the buffer states, when the Arab states considered Israel an enemy and usurper of the Palestinian territories; before they went into the warm embrace of peace).

This is clearly to win over the people of the surrounding countries, i.e. to woo them or at least bribe them in an attempt to get them on board gain their support for this cursed deal. Therefore, some analysts have analysed the economic crises faced by Egypt and Jordan, the deterioration of the economic conditions of the people, the siege on the Gaza Strip, the security coordinating the Palestinian Authority's inflexibility in dealing with those living in Gaza, refusing to pay the employees their salaries, failing to pay the tax revenues to the Gaza Strip, preventing the entry of aid, and Trump's latest threats to fund UNRWA or more accurately to liquidate UNRWA, which I will speak about in more detail later.

They, myself included, believe that all of these actions are deliberate and planned in an effort to complete the deal of the century and put pressure on the people and their lives, reaching the point of starvation. We also believe it aims to push these countries' economies to the edge of decline, and then announce the deal of the century, as if it were a saviour or a magic wand that saves the area's people from their hardships and resolve their crises. In this case, the people will welcome the deal and praise it, forgetting their principles and nationalism and completely disregarding Palestine, nationalism, and perhaps even Islam.

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The figures mentioned in the leaked reports regarding the settlement of Palestinians in Arab countries are blinding and astonishing, as according to the reports, Egypt and Jordan would receive $250 billion and Iraq $200 billion in exchange for resettling 1.2 million Palestinians in northern Iraq. They unfortunately forgot to mention that Saudi Arabia gave the US about $600 billion.

Since then, we have been constantly hearing about the deal of the century in the written, visual, and audio media and it is linked to every action in the region. This is not to mention the reports published about secret meetings being held between US President Donald Trump and Arab leaders, all of who have expressed their agreement to Trump's cursed deal. The most recent of these reports is what was reported by the American television channel, ABC, known for its information on the White House's news through its political analyst. The report included detailed information about the deal of the century and suggested the implementation of the plan and the resettlement of Palestinians in Arab countries in exchange for paying hundreds of billions of dollars, as I mentioned earlier, to revive the economies of these countries and force them to accept the resettlement.

Furthermore, Trump, Netanyahu, and Bin Salman agreed on the plan, which stipulates the annexation of parts of Sinai and Jordan and resettling 3 million Palestinians, distributed as follows: 1 million Palestinians in Jordan and 2 million Palestinians on the Gaza border, extending to Al-Arish and across Rafah. They also plan to expand Gaza's area by 7,000 kilometres, which includes the historically Palestinian side of Sinai, which Egypt obtained during the British Mandate. This 7,000 kilometres of land can absorb 5 million Palestinian refugees, and would be annexed to the Gaza Strip to establish the alleged Palestinian state. This state would be disarmed, would not have fixed geographical borders, and Abou Redis – a city in the South Sinai Governate – would be its capital. The right of return would fall, and Jerusalem would be completely forgotten.

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The Saudi Crown Prince, who aspires to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, said to the president of security coordination, Mahmoud Abbas, forget Jerusalem Abou Redis will be the capital. This was followed by Trump declaring his recognition of unified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. In his latest speech last Wednesday he said he had taken the issue off the negotiating table because it was the issue hindering past peace negotiations and reaching a final settlement.

The US administration also believes that the right of return is one of the most important obstacles it faces in the final settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Hence, Trump decided to cut off all funding to UNRWA and to ask other countries to do the same and cut off their funding for this organisation, specialising in taking care of refugee affairs in their dismal camps, including food, health, education, etc.

UNRWA was established in 1948, after the 1948 Nakba and the expulsion of at least 800,000 Palestinians outside Palestine. The refugee status includes all Palestinians who left Palestine in 1948, including their children and grandchildren, and now amount to about 5.4 million Palestinians according to UNRWA statistics. The American administration is unhappy about this and believes it is hindering the achievement of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. Therefore, Washington began accusing the agency of corruption in order to justify cutting off its assistance, while Netanyahu went on to demand its closure and claimed that the agency perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees and exaggerates their numbers. Meanwhile, UNRWA Office Director Matthias Schmale warned that the decision to stop funding would lead to the deterioration of the Palestinian refugees' humanitarian conditions. He also called on decision-makers to fund the organisation and political issues from humanitarian ones. He also believes that Trump's decision is punishment for the Palestinians for rejecting his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

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It is worth noting that the US contributes around $350 million a year to UNRWA and is the largest funder of the agency, which has a total budget of $1.2 billion. It makes us wonder what this small amount would be to the richest countries in the world and how much it is compared to the $600 billion that Saudi Arabia pumped into the American treasury last year?

Of course, it is nothing to them. Of course this is the not the issue, as the goal is to end the agency's work and liquidate it because Trump's decision aims to end the refugee issue, which is considered the most complicated matter on the negotiating table. By doing so, the right of return issue could be taken off the negotiating table. Therefore, Trump's Zionist son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, who is tasked with the Palestinian-Israeli issue, is seeking to eliminate UNRWA and strip the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip of their refugee status in order to reduce their number to less than 500,000 refuges out of the original 5.4 million refugees registered in the UN records. This is where the idea of resettling the Palestinian refugees in surrounding Arab countries that I mentioned earlier came from. It is actually an old idea proposed in the 1950s, but it was completely rejected by past Arab governments in order to preserve Palestinian identity. This is why no Arab country granted them citizenship of the countries they resided in and considered them guests in their country in order for the right of return to remain in effect. The Arab League made this decision at the time, when it was still alive, before it took its last breaths.

One cannot separate all of this from the new Israeli law, known as the nation state law, with which Israel unmasked its ugly racist face. This law declares Palestine a homeland for the Jewish people, according to the text of the law, which says, "The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfils its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination". To further reiterate the Jewishness of the state, the law's text did not only say that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, but said it was their homeland. It even made Hebrew the sole official language in the country, making the Arabs a minority, thus forcing the Arabs in Palestine to choose between two options: to leave the country or accept inferiority and become a minority that has no right to demand citizenship or equal rights. This further establishes the big lie promoted by the Zionists a century ago, i.e. that Palestine is only for the Jewish people and is the Promised Land, granted to them by God and cannot be lost. This also suggests that the presence of Palestinians in this land was in the form of occupation and that the 1948 war was a war to liberate the land from the Palestinian occupier. Furthermore, based on this logic, the land that they build settlements on, extending from Jerusalem to the West Bank, is not an occupation, but expansion in the Israeli homeland. Hence, the law stated, "The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation". The law also states that immigration to the country will lead to citizenship only for Jewish people.

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This was supported by Netanyahu in his speech before the Knesset, in which he said, "This is a defining moment – long live the State of Israel," adding, "122 years after Herzl made his vision known, with this law we determined the founding principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and respects the rights of all of its citizens".

This indicates the complete liquidation of the right of return, and therefore the US immediately welcomed and supported this hateful racist law. It had already recognised the Israeli settlements established in the West Bank, which contains some 650,000 Jews, and plans to raise the number to 1.5 million Jews by establishing new settlements. The US even called on some countries to recognise these settlements.

All these measures taken either in the US, starting with the recognition of Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel, or in Israel such as the nation state law, are all steps on the path to implementing the deal of the century, which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause. However, just because one begins to take steps on a path this does not mean that they can continue on the path and reach the end. The path is full of potholes, hills, slopes and thorns, and there is still a pulse in the nation that refuses to give up the historic land of Palestine and a resistance in Gaza that does not surrender or compromise when it comes to Palestine.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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