Donald Trump and his gullible team of foreign policy advisers have kept the rest of the world mildly entertained since the former reality TV host became the US President. The theatrics of Trump’s White House are indeed amusing as long as you are a casual observer with no direct interest in the antics of the so-called leader of the free world.
However, like the little boy who cried wolf, Trump is fooling no one these days, least of all the Arab world, with his juvenile rhetoric. His much vaunted “deal of the century” for Israel and the Palestinians is as fake as his orange tan and mane of blond hair. It is so blatantly pro-Israel that it is fraudulent to suggest otherwise. It is time for those who have influence in Washington to bring an end to this deception, which regards the people of Palestine with contempt and makes a mockery of justice.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain should at least attempt to stop this humiliating fraud. They all know that there is no agreement or peace in sight for Palestine, no matter how many dollars they try to bribe the Palestinians with on behalf of their American friends. The two-state solution is all but dead and buried, and its rotting corpse is beginning to stink.
The shallow Jared Kushner, who knows as much about Middle East politics as his father-in-law knows about climate change, is desperate to keep the myth of the “deal of the century” alive, but few people are buying it. Later this month, he is supposed to be launching a Peace for Prosperity workshop in Bahrain. According to Trump and Kushner, mega bucks are waiting to be made in the deal which has as much chance of ending the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine as George W Bush has of being brought to trial for war crimes following his illegal invasion of Iraq back in 2003.
Bahrain in particular now faces a dilemma. Does it call off the two-day seminar which is obviously destined to be a farce, or does the ruling family keep up the pretence in order to keep Kushner and Trump happy? Even some of the more purchasable members of the Palestinian Authority are refusing to go along with this fraudulent exercise. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has boycotted any and all “peace” talks since Trump moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year, declaring in the process that all of the occupied city, including the Arab east, is the Zionist State’s “undivided” capital.
As the Trump administration has barrelled chaotically around the Middle East, vital aid has been slashed from the PA; the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Washington have been closed by the Americans, and America’s annual donation to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been axed. Even Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights has been recognised by Trump. If these are indications of things yet to come, then no wonder that the Arab world is sceptical about the “deal of the century”.
Moreover, showing complete disregard for international law, Trump has gone so far as to claim that the descendants of the 1948 Palestinian refugees are not themselves refugees. The fact that 5 million of them are registered formally as such with UNRWA, in line with the mandate given to the Agency by the UN in 1949, means nothing to him.
No wonder, then, that Jordan fears that the real deal is to force more Palestinians out of the occupied West Bank and into the Hashemite Kingdom, which the Israeli right wing already delights in calling “the Palestinian state”. King Abdullah has told Kushner that any peace plan must be based on a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
Without a hint of irony, the US Secretary of Stating the Obvious, Mike Pompeo, has actually admitted that “I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love.” Middle East diplomacy has been reduced to a comedy of errors with lead roles for Trump, Pompeo, Kushner, special envoy Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, not one of whom can be said to have any expertise in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
That doesn’t stop them all from supporting Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Such disrespect and disregard for international law are obvious from the embassy move to Jerusalem and recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan, moves which most of the world do not accept as legitimate. What’s more, not one of them has any real understanding of the suffering of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let alone those who makeup one-fifth of the population of Israel or struggle in squalid refugee camps in neighbouring Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the wider diaspora.
The dollar might talk in Trump’s circles, but he and his cronies have yet to realise that the Palestinian people cannot be bought and that any solution brought to the table for both sides must include the land stolen from the Palestinians more than 70 years ago. Many have died in defence of their ownership of their land, and their inalienable right to return to it, and the latest generation will not abandon their legitimate claims, because the cost in Palestinian blood is much, much more than money can buy.
The only good news surrounding this whole issue is that the political turmoil in Israel means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is no longer a safe bet, and by the time Tel Aviv sorts out yet another General Election, the US will be entering its own presidential election year. Even Trump is likely to be wary of taking foreign policy steps which might cost him votes, and so the Israel-centric “deal of the century” may well be put on the back burner or even forgotten about altogether. I for one wouldn’t be surprised.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.