Washington’s so-called “Deal of the Century” can be summarized in three phrases: a political “entity” in the Gaza Strip, a degree of “autonomy” in the West Bank, and a Palestinian “capital” in parts of Jerusalem.
Since U.S. President Donald Trump began dropping hints about the deal last year, his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has reportedly been working on the plan’s details, a number of which have been leaked to the press.
According to Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben-Menachem, what has been leaked regarding the plan appears to be largely in line with longstanding Israeli policy objectives.
“Israel’s current political leadership rejects the notion of a Palestinian state but has shown its readiness to accept a Palestinian ‘entity’ in parts of the Palestinian territories,” Ben-Menachem told Anadolu Agency.
“With the help of the Jewish lobby in the U.S., Trump’s advisers — Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman — have convinced the president to draw up a plan that suits the interests of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” he said.
Last week, Israeli political analyst Amos Harel, for his part, wrote in Israeli daily Haaretz that such a deal would fail to meet basic Palestinian demands.
According to Harel, the U.S. administration also plans to offer the Palestinians a package of economic incentives partially funded by the oil-rich Gulf States.
Harel believes the U.S. administration will offer the Palestinians a “capital” in East Jerusalem’s Abu Dis district while the Israelis would be expected to withdraw from a handful of Arab villages on Jerusalem’s eastern and northern outskirts.
Jerusalem’s Old City, meanwhile, including the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, would remain entirely under Israeli sovereignty, Harel said.
What’s more, the Jordan Valley would remain under full Israeli control, while the new Palestinian “state” would remain completely disarmed, lacking any military capacity.
Such a plan is unlikely to be met with acceptance by the Palestinians, some of whom have derisively described it as the “Slap of the Century”.
According to Ben-Menachem, the general outline of the Trump peace plan appears to include a Palestinian political “entity” in the Gaza Strip and in some parts of the West Bank, while security control over everything else — including Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley — would remain in Israel’s hands.
Millions of Palestinian refugees, meanwhile, whose forebears were driven from their homes in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel, would not be allowed to return to the new Palestinian “state”.
While some isolated settlement outposts might be dismantled, Ben-Menachem explained, Israel’s sprawling network of West Bank settlement blocs would remain largely intact under the plan.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians would be given a “capital” in Abu Dis and four districts of East Jerusalem (Jabal al-Mukaber, Al-Zaim, the Shuafat refugee camp and Al-Issawiya), along with financial inducements funded in part by the Gulf States and the international community.
In regards to the thorny issue of the Al-Aqsa, the deal would also call for construction of a “corridor” linking Abu Dis to Al-Aqsa, giving Palestinians limited access to the mosque, Ben-Menachem said.
Late last year, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah halted all contact with the U.S. administration after Trump announced his intention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“Israel is very comfortable with the U.S. administration’s current positions,” Ben-Menachem said. “The common assessment is that Israel-U.S. relations will remain strong in the long term.”
By contrast, he added, U.S.-Palestine relations “will likely remain a source of tension”.
Ultimately, however, it remains unclear whether the Trump administration will go through with its controversial peace plan.
Palestinian sources tell Anadolu Agency that Kushner and Greenblatt, who just wrapped up a tour of the region, have been told by Arab leaders — in no uncertain terms — that any peace deal must include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The same sources, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media, said the Trump administration was now mulling development schemes in Gaza following the failure of its political project.
Ben-Menachem, however, disagreed with these assertions.
“Washington’s interest in Gaza is temporary and won’t affect the ‘Deal of the Century’, details of which are still being ironed out,” he said.
Results of the tour have not been made public.