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"The Deal": Factors and Obstacles
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
July 12, 2018

Successive actions taken by both Washington and Tel Aviv touched on the essence of Palestinian rights. So, they do not see a justification for waiting for or paying attention to the reactions. The reason is that they are convinced that the "Deal of the Century" is going through obstacles, and that its regional factors can enable it to progress towards its goals, as it is basically designed to rearrange the situation of the region according to the accounts of the two parties and the intersection of their interests.

The two partners deal with the deceptive slogans and goals presented by the previous initiatives on the settlement as "overloading", imposed by the necessities of attracting a number of Arab officials, along with the Palestinian Authority to negotiations that end the "confrontation and liberation" speech, which prevailed in previous stages.

However, there is a concern among the two parties that the Palestinian complex may be more maximal than they expect, with the Palestinian political and popular consensus to reject the "deal" and resist it.

The Trump administration has recently added two aggressive measures to its previous measures against the Palestinians, as it has decided to freeze its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. Congress has also authorized President Trump to take punitive action against US companies contributing to Israel's boycott.

The first measure brings back to the fore the foundations under which the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, whereby it has been since decided to direct the disbursement of funds from donor countries (most notably the United States), in a way that does not conflict with the function for which the PA was established. These foundations emphasized that rent expenditure should be the dominant factor in the financial activity of the PA, without approaching the financing of any developmental projects in the occupied Palestinian territories, as this would strengthen the Palestinian economy, develop the domestic product and increase the possibility of developing reciprocal capabilities in the Palestinian market.

At the same time, the basis of the terms of PA funding was focused on the security aspect, in a way that doesn't contradict with the security interests of the occupation, as well as the political approach of the PA through the adherence to the settlement rules, affirmed after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

According to these Accords, the Paris Protocol was signed in 1995, whereby Palestinian trade exchange with the outside world is restricted through the Israeli gate. Tel Aviv collects customs taxes instead of the PA and then delivers them to it.

In practice, this protocol has led to link the arrival of custom clearance funds with the commitment of the PA to the political and security "rules" stipulated in the Oslo and any action that Tel Aviv deems outside these rules constitutes a sufficient reason to reserve these revenues and prevent them from PA. This has occurred at several stations, and has led to financial crises that have affected the ability of the PA to cover a part of its expenses.

Although the previous US administrations used the issue of financing the PA as a tool to pressure on the Palestinian negotiator, but they made sure that this does not last long, in order to not threaten the stability of the PA and lead to incalculable developments, and in several stations they exerted pressure on Tel Aviv to release the detained funds of the PA, for the same reasons.

In addition, the negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides were important in promoting the policies of the American administrations as an expression of their strength on the path to which the political solution to the conflict was heading. The issue of settlement was one of the main points in the election campaigns of presidential candidates in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

But with Trump's administration, negotiations no longer mattered, and it immediately resorted to taking positions and actions that exposed the essence of US policy towards the settlement in the region. This administration has begun to formulate the Deal of the Century by re-locating the parties to the equation adopted by the previous administrations from the perspective of decentralization of the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as a necessary entry to normalize official Arab relations with Tel Aviv. Instead, it has adopted the priority of normalization, within a regional solution in which the Palestinian file is marginal.

The American policy towards the region has moved to the stage of taking direct measures, exploiting the heated conflicts in a number of Arab countries and their resulting division and rivalry in the Arab official system, and the deteriorating Palestinian situation.

The Trump administration believes that the route of its plan is more "smooth" on the Arab official line, as opposed to indications that the plan may stumble on the Palestinian "front". The reason for this is the weight that the Palestinian popular position represents in the options for the Palestinian situation, regardless of the official leadership compass. The developments in the field of confrontation with the occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip clearly reflect the validity of this extraction. Trump's administration knows that pressures on formal political systems are governed by equations that do not apply to what happens when they take action against the rights of the Palestinian people toward Jerusalem and refugees by trying to liquidate their agency, UNRWA.

The official Palestinian leadership does not find any role to play in the American plan after the Trump administration has referred it to retirement in the settlement.

Therefore, it is not expected that it will receive any attention unless it fully responds to the American-Israeli conditions, which it cannot, because getting down under these conditions means agreeing to liquidate the Palestinian cause. The option available to it (which its duty) is to join the general national popular and political effort in resisting the American-Israeli plan. This begins firstly with the implementation of the decisions of the National and Central Councils and to cut off the ties with Oslo Accords and their political, security and economic constraints, and to open up to the United Nations by internationalizing the cause and rights of the Palestinian people on the international agenda in terms of the necessity of implementing the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy.

It is worth mentioning that what the official Palestinian leadership feared of American and Israeli measures against it if it moved in the right direction, actually took place while it is still in place. As these measures are ongoing, the last of which is to withhold aid from the PA if it does not comply with the nine known conditions, including withholding the salaries of families of martyrs and prisoners, at a time when the Knesset decided to loot these salaries from the money of PA in Israel.

So, is there anything else to wait for?

Mohammad Al-Sahli is the Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Ibrahim Motlaq

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