The much-touted “Deal of the Century” was the US administration’s plan to reshape the Middle East in favor of Israel and Saudi Arabia and to jettison the Palestinian issue altogether. It ended up frozen for at least another five months, right before its unveiling, after snap elections were unexpectedly called in Israel. But now we learn it will move forward after all—at least as regards its economic provisions.
This was confirmed by attorney Marc Zell, the chairman of Republicans Israel (the Israel branch of the US Republican Party), in an interview with Arutz 7, the media agency of the Israeli extreme right. He clarified that the economic summit meant to “finance” the Deal of the Century will still be held on June 25-26, organized by the Americans in Manama, Bahrain, with the participation of the Gulf monarchies. There will be no Palestinians there, as a result of Trump’s various moves in favor of Israel, including the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the cuts in aid funding for the UNRWA refugee agency and for the Occupied Territories, and the closure of the PLO office in Washington.
What is certain is that the White House has become fed up with the endless last-minute turns of events in Israeli politics. Trump did not mince his words when he expressed his disappointment (to put it mildly) at Israel’s return to the polls on Sept. 17, after Benyamin Netanyahu and the rest of the Israeli right had won a clear election victory just two months ago. Trump was also forced to admit that his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, “may be right” after all, referring to a recording in which Pompeo called the Deal of the Century “unexecutable,” in addition to being tilted in Israel’s favor.
As a result, according to the analysis by Marwan Asmar published on the Albawaba news portal, the conference in Bahrain is nothing more than an attempt—already doomed to failure—to avoid a full-on embarrassment for Washington and for the master architect of the “peace plan,” Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“Aside from the fact that what is being offered [is] between $50-$70 billion – large sums of money – that probably wouldn’t come in the end because we know from past experiences what donor’s conferences are like, the Bahrain meeting is like putting the cart before the horse,” Asmar explains.
According to the analyst, neither Netanyahu—or anyone else who might form the next Israeli government—nor the Trump administration can “wriggle out of” having to address the fundamental political question. In any case, Asmar adds, the Palestinians will not give up their rights—and, “in the end, Trump may give up” on the plan altogether, “because he would shortly be facing the roll-out campaign of the 2020 US presidential elections that [will] demand all his energies.”
Netanyahu is fine with that. The new elections work in favor of his own plans. Although the US plan does favor Israel, it’s not enough for the prime minister and the religious nationalist right in Israel. Netanyahu’s aim—as he announced in April at the end of the campaign—is the annexation of most of the West Bank, currently under military occupation, to finally put an end to the idea of a Palestinian state. And he is fully convinced that Trump, or another US president, will be there to give his seal of approval.
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