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Friedman’s Three Steps for the Deal of the Century
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
July 8, 2018

The news confirm that US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, disagreed with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt about the date of launching the Deal of the Century and announcing its details. While both Kushner and Greenblatt believe that the regional atmosphere is ready for this move, Friedman sees the opposite, calling for its postponement for another time, because there are three conditions that must be met, before the announcement of the deal.

Friedman believes in what a spokesman of the US State Department called for, in disclosing the content and texts of the deal “only after providing the necessary conditions for its application”. As the deal is not a project to announce, but an integrated plan, in its general lines, on the regional level, on the one hand, and on the Palestinian level on the other hand, that doesn't rely on rigid texts, but it is a gradual plan, which is being implemented step by step, and in the field, either on the regional level, to prepare the desired Arab conditions to normalize the relationship with Israel and enter into a regional political alliance with it against Iran and its influence in the region or on the Palestinian level, to reach a “peaceful” solution that opens the horizon and removes obstacles before the regional alliance, within the framework of a joint American-Israeli political conviction that the establishment of a Palestinian state is “no longer a necessary condition” for achieving the Arab - Israeli regional peace. But there can be a solution of another kind, so Friedman considers that the circumstances are not yet available to propose it and make way for this “solution of another kind”. In this context, Friedman believes that the provision of these conditions relates to the three files mentioned above.

• The first file is a regional file. Friedman believes that the circumstances have not yet matured to achieve it, namely the recognition of the United States to annex the occupied Golan to Israel. As Friedman told that Netanyahu's government asked him to begin addressing this issue, to resolve the conflict issues, including the Golan issue, on the basis that annexing this occupied area of the Syrian territory to Israel, is the only solution. So, Friedman has asked the Likud ministers and its representatives to be patient to develop the issue, in preparation for Washington to declare its recognition of the Golan as an Israeli area, as it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and transferred its embassy to it. So, Friedman sees it necessary to create the necessary conditions to achieve the regional solution including resolving the fate of the Golan as one of its pillars.

• The second issue is the Jordanian position. As, Jordan, according to the statements of Amman, is still committed to the independent Palestinian state on the 4th June borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and it still adheres to the Hashemite supervision over the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the city and rejects any alternative solutions that might open up to unknown steps, that King Abdullah II had warned of them in his comment on the popular movement in Jordan against high prices and taxes.

Friedman believes that without a role of Jordan in the implementation of the Deal of the Century, the announcement is premature, and he bets that Gulf and other regional pressures should be exerted on Jordan to persuade it to retract from its declared positions and accept alternative solutions, in which Amman probably would play a major role in them, as what is being leaked: a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, with its expansion to Sinai, and a territory under self – management for residents in the West Bank, with Abu Dis as its capital (called Arab Jerusalem), to be linked by specific relations with Amman and economic relations within a triple confederation framework with Jordan and Israel. Friedman sees, that one requirement of these steps, is the retraction of Amman from the disengagement from the Palestinian Bank, which it has adopted in July 1988, weeks before the declaration of independence under the effect of the national great intifada (the first intifada) in the occupied territories.

Observers say that the visit of Netanyahu, and both Kushner and Greenblatt to Amman come in this context. At the same time, however, they note that after these visits, Amman has been keen to determine its position for a necessary solution based on an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and on the borders of June, which proves that things have not become as the American and Israeli sides wish.

•The third issue, is to give more time for Benjamin Netanyahu and his government to impose more facts on the ground in the fields of settlement, Judaization, confiscations, legal, security and economic procedures, and to prepare the political stage to make the Deal of the Century a reality, even before its declaration, so that we believe the predictions of Trump, Kushner, and Greenblatt, that the deal will take place whether the Palestinians wanted or rejected, as planned, a plan for implementation, step by step, and not a plan to be negotiated.

On the other hand, we must note the state of weakness and confusion experienced by the Palestinian official leadership, and its resort to the high voice, as an alternative to practical steps to respond to the deal of the century.

So, to say that the official leadership's bet on an Arab role in rejecting the deal is a clear evidence about deficit and weakness. As, neither the official leadership has taken a single practical step that would impede the deal of the century, nor the "Arab role" has done so.

And to say that the deal of the century aim is the collapse of the Palestinian legitimacy is an underestimation for the nature of the battle, such as highlighting the danger to the Palestinian legitimacy, and ignoring the major risks that threaten the cause and national rights. As Jerusalem is at the core of danger and the refugee rights and the fate of UNRWA are in danger, too, however, there is no talk about them in the media and statements of the PA. The battle is managed as if it is with Hamas, not with the occupation and as if it is with the popular movement in the West Bank while demanding the lifting of sanctions on the Gaza Strip and its population; all this to distract the attention toward the state of disability suffered by the official leadership and its evasion from the implementation of the decisions of the National Council about Oslo and its obligations.

The failure to withdraw the recognition of Israel, continuing the security coordination with the occupation ignoring the economic dependence on Israel, and not transferring the battle to the United Nations under the decisions of the National Council, all this serve to the deal of the century, especially in light of the isolation suffered by Israel and the United States, whether in the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, or the United Nation Human Rights Council.

In summary, we argue that adhering to the vision of the president (the speech on February 20, 2018 before the UN Security Council) is an alternative to all of this, and in addition to being a violation of Palestinian legitimacy, the legitimacy of the national institution (i.e. the National Council and the Central Council), it forms an attempt to search for intersections and outlets to enter the Deal of the Century.

It is no secret that some of the Arab capitals that have not cut their consultations with Washington about the Deal of the Century do not stop providing guarantees and reassurances to the Palestinian leadership that its seat in the Deal of the Century has been preserved since now, and it should not disrupt the prelude to this deal.

This, again, explains the betting on the Arab role in confronting the Deal of the Century.

This, once again, explains why the official leadership adopts the February 20, 2018 speech as an alternative to the decisions of the Central Council and the National Council in their last sessions.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rawda Abo Zarqa
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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