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Foiling the 'deal of the century' is possible

Palestinian protestors burn a poster with a picture of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration against the deal of century, in the West Bank city of Hebron, 22 February 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apa Images]
Palestinian protesters burn a poster with a picture of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration against the deal of century, in the West Bank city of Hebron, 22 February 2019 [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apa Images]

The US has once again started to hint about the postponement of the announcement of the details of the "deal of the century"; it was supposed to be revealed "after Ramadan", which ended two weeks ago, having already been delayed twice previously. According to the US envoy to the region, Jason Greenblatt, this will now happen in November. This confirms the failure of the American project, and that Washington is still uncertain if it will succeed in imposing its wishes on the Palestinians.

Last year, US media revealed that the Palestinians and Jordanians had rejected the project, which is what prompted Washington to postpone it. The postponement suggests that the Americans want to put more pressure on the Palestinians and Jordanians to accept the terms.

However, we can now see that despite the Palestinians' weakness, division and domestic problems, nothing can be imposed or forced on them if they do not want it. This is especially true if there is a national consensus, as there is with the US deal, given Washington's clearly biased policies in favour of the Israelis.

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Even though there has been no public announcement of the deal's details, it is obvious that the Palestinian and Jordanian leadership know what it contains. It is possible that they have been told piecemeal by other Arab governments, and maybe from the Americans and Israelis themselves. It is most likely that the Arab countries which have leaked details to Amman and Ramallah are the same states which continue to put pressure on them to accept the deal, including massive bribes worth billions of dollars. The repeated US postponement of the project confirms that the Palestinians and Jordanians are capable of foiling the "deal of the century" if they wish to confront the US and Israeli governments, because Washington is aware that it cannot succeed if it does not have a Palestinian partner. Moreover, the refugee issue cannot be resolved without Jordan as a partner in the deal, simply because Amman plays host to the largest number of Palestinian refugees, with camps that are ongoing evidence of the Palestinian Nakba.

The Palestinians may disagree amongst themselves on any number of issues, and they may disagree with Jordan on many others, but there are two things that nobody in Jordan and Palestinian disagrees on: the status of Jerusalem and the refugees. The US cannot find any Palestinian who would accept a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital. If Donald Trump doubts this, he should ask his predecessor Bill Clinton, who was present at the Camp David negotiations in July 2000 between the late Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak. Arafat preferred to die for the sake of Jerusalem rather than live without it; he signed 13 agreements with the Israelis, but would not accept a Palestinian state without Jerusalem. Nor would he accept a state to which Palestinian refugees, who spent decades of their lives in exile, could not return. No Palestinians today would accept such a thing either. Hence, the "deal of the century" will not succeed if it is imposed, which is why the Americans have had to postpone their announcement time after time.

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The Palestinians and Jordanians are thus able to foil the US deal and any other project that poses an existential threat to them. If it were possible to impose an agreement by force, Israel would have done so long ago, as it possesses more power in the region, but it has learnt that neither money nor economic pressure can achieve what it wants to do if there is no agreement from the Palestinians and the Jordanians.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 17 June 2019

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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