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‘Deal of the century’ does not include Palestinian state, report claims

Trump's son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (R) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shake hands at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on 14 May 2018 [Israel Press Office /Handout/Anadolu Agency]
Trump's son-in-law and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (R) and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shake hands at the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on 14 May 2018 [Israel Press Office /Handout/Anadolu Agency]

The long-awaited “deal of the century” does not include plans for a Palestinian state, a new report by the Washington Post has revealed.

The Washington Post spoke to people “familiar with the main elements” of the so-called “deal of the century”, the US peace plan spearheaded by President Donald Trump and crafted principally by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt. In doing so, it found that the plan “stop[s] short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state” in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

The report, published yesterday, cites “Arab officials familiar with Kushner’s sales pitches” who said he has “offered no specifics but suggested that the plan turned on economic opportunities for Palestinians and an enshrining of Israeli control of disputed territory”.

It continued: “Kushner and other US officials have linked peace and economic development to Arab recognition of Israel and acceptance of a version of the status quo on Palestinian ‘autonomy,’ as opposed to ‘sovereignty’.”

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]

The Washington Post added that these “Arab and Israeli officials familiar with discussions around the package spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose contents of confidential meetings”. The White House has reportedly kept details of the deal within a tight circle of people in a bid to prevent leaks, with even President Trump seemingly not having read the plan in full.

Speaking about the timing of the deal – which many have reported is being delayed until newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms his ruling coalition in the coming month – one anonymous US official said: “We are still weighing a variety of factors. Timing is still being worked out, and no decision has been made at this time as to when we are going to roll it out.”

The West Bank: Israeli annexation, the deal of the century and the pursuit of Hamas

The Washington Post’s report has been buoyed by the fact that, in recent weeks, high profile US officials have appeared to side-step questions referring to Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, which has for decades provided the basis upon which peace negotiations have taken place.

Speaking on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he did not think Netanyahu’s pre-election promise to annex the occupied West Bank to Israel would impact the “deal of the century”. Asked during an interview with CNN whether he thought Netanyahu “vowing to annex the West Bank” could hurt the US’ proposal, Pompeo answered “I don’t”. “I think that the vision that we’ll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used,” he added.

Pompeo continued: “We’ve had a lot of ideas for 40 years. They did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Our idea is to put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem.”

Just last week, Pompeo also declined to support the two-state solution, saying during a Senate hearing that “we are now working with many parties to share what our vision is as to how to solve this problem”.

The deal has long been suspected of being biased towards Israel’s interests, prompting Palestinian factions and Arab leaders to reject the plan even before its revelation. Speaking yesterday during his first meeting of the new Palestinian government, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said that “the first challenge ahead of the new government is the ‘deal of the century’,” adding that any attempts to talk with the Trump administration were “useless”. “We rejected this deal from the beginning because it did not include Jerusalem and we do not want a state without Jerusalem or without Gaza,” Abbas added.

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