Will Trump's Deal of the Century Solve the Middle East's Problems?

In a recent interview, Jason Greenblatt, a special representative of the president, said, "Our plan begins with reality.  It recognizes the history of the conflict, of course, but [other plans] were always relying on tired notions of what it should be.  Instead, it focuses on what it could be."

Thus, I assume that the Palestinian narrative that has driven the peace process and world opinion for fifty years will be severely undermined and replaced with reality and history, starting with the Palestine Mandate.  Greenblatt is mindful of the fact that this narrative was outlined by the KGB in its consultations with Yasser Arafat in the sixties and afterward.  They invented the Palestinian people as a means to cast the Arabs as the oppressed and the Israelis as the oppressors.

The rationale for the plan will start with the signing of the Palestine Mandate in 1922.  This mandate split Palestine into two mandates under British rule – namely, the Arab Palestine (Transjordan), which received 78% of the land, and the Jewish Mandate (Israel), which received the remaining 22%.  Britain tried to further divide the 22%, most notably in the U.N. Partition Plan of 1947, without success.  True, the UNGA passed the resolution, and Israel was created, but the Arabs rejected it, thereby ending their opportunity to create an Arab state on the part allocated to them.

International law recognizes Israel's right to claim sovereignty over the entire 22%.  In addition, Israel cemented this right by its victory over the Arabs in the '67 war.

No doubt, this history will inform the design of the plan.

Greenblatt went on to articulate a red line, if you will, saying, "We will not put forth a plan or endorse a plan that doesn't meet all of Israel's security issues because they are of extreme importance to us."  Furthermore, "Israel is going to have to be comfortable that what we put forth in the plan does not put Israel at risk."  The Palestinians must accept this as fundamental to the plan and be "comfortable" with it.

In explaining why he is putting all this effort into achieving peace when there are bigger problems in the Middle east – namely, Syria and Iran – Greenblatt says:

We think that there are unique circumstances now that warrant an attempt at trying to see whether or not we can do this.  President Trump, as devoted and dedicated to the State of Israel and the Jewish people as he is, he's also dedicated to trying to help the Palestinian people, and the way we can marry those two ideas is by trying to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

Thus, he is guided by two goals.  He wants to strengthen Israel, and he wants to help the Palestinian people.  As he said, "we do believe that many Palestinians want to live in peace, and they want to see their lives improved."

So how can he marry these goals?  He says, "We must abandon all the old formulae and focus on what is doable."

Taking all the foregoing into account, I believe that the plan will recognize the original division of Palestine into Jordan as the Palestinian state and Israel as the Jewish state.  These states already have a peace agreement in which the agreed border is the Jordan River.

So far, so good.  But what will happen with the two million Palestinians, all of whom have Jordanian citizenship, living west of the Jordan River?  Presently, these Palestinians live for the most part in Areas A and B (1.4 million), Area C (100,000), and Jerusalem (350,000).

According to a well informed source, the administration of the A areas, as agreed to in the Oslo Accords, will pass from the P.A. to Jordan.  The B areas will be absorbed into the C area in order to remove the Swiss cheese effect.  Hebron, on the other hand, will be administered by a joint local council made up of Israelis and Palestinians.

This means that the P.A. will be done away with, because its primary function is to wage war against Israel's legitimacy.  All Palestinians living west of the River will be seen as both Jordanian citizens and foreign residents.  There will be no need to give them citizenship.  Israel will then be free to build without restraint in the expanded Area C and in other ways exercise its sovereignty on all lands west of the Jordan River.

In effect, all Arabs will remain where they are and will continue to work in Israel.  The only difference will be that they have to give up their aspirations for a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River and accept that Jordan is the Palestinian state.

Jordan and Israel will negotiate separate agreements dealing with joint economic relations and joint military arrangements.

Job-creating joint ventures will be set up in Jordan.  These jobs will be available to all Palestinians who emigrate to Jordan.  Expectations are that many Palestinians living west of the river will avail themselves of these jobs.

As for my idea that a new city should be built in Jordan to house a million people, I am informed by the source above that Jordan is a welfare state that guarantees housing to all citizens.  Jordan will start with building an extra 500,000 units to accommodate the influx of citizens.  This too will induce many Palestinians to emigrate to Jordan.

It should be made clear that Israel will not be party to forced ethnic cleansing.

There is also talk about joint military planning between Israel and Jordan.  In effect, Jordan will be an extension of Israel.  Jordan may also be the buyer of the 100 F-16s that Israel now wishes to sell.

UNRWA will be scuttled.  The Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will be invited to move to Jordan as full citizens, thereby ending their refugee status.

Many Israelis will not be happy with the fact that the Arabs will remain, but at least there will be no obligation to offer them a path to citizenship.  Furthermore, this deal will do away with the Palestinian narrative, which is the cause of so much disloyalty among Arab Israelis.

As Greenblatt said, the Palestinians and the Israelis must decide, "Will we be better off with this plan or continuing without it?"  I believe, on balance, that both the Israelis and the Palestinians will accept the plan if it looks like this.  The Israelis hunger for an end of conflict agreement, and the Palestinians are sick and tired of living under the P.A. rule and under the king's rule, as the case may be.  They are hungry for change and normalization.

As for the Arab world, Greenblatt said, "We're also hopeful that we can count on their support, and I use the word 'support' rather than 'approval.'"  Thus, he doesn't expect them to publicly accept the plan, but he does expect them not to undermine its acceptance.

Both Abbas and King Abdullah have publicly rejected any such plan.  Assuming no change of heart, they will be replaced.  Mudar Zahran is waiting on the sidelines.  He most certainly accepts such a plan.

Conventional wisdom has it that Israel would never agree to ousting Abdullah.  After all, as the theory goes, the border has been quiet for 30 years.  But increasingly, Israel sees Abdullah as an obstructionist just like Abbas.  I think Israel is ready for change, especially if change leads to a resolution of the conflict.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that if Mudar Zahran becomes the leader of Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose world headquarters is in Jordan, will oust him from power within 24 hours.  In this, it is wrong also.  Within the said 24 hours, Zahran would ban the Muslim brotherhood and designate it a terrorist organization.  In this, he would have the support of Israel and the U.S.

I believe that this deal will be accepted and will thus be the Deal of the Century.

Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit.com, which he started 16 years ago.  Together with Mudar Zahran, he spear-headed the plan, in the spring of 2017, to replace King Abdullah, as the leader of Jordan, with Mudar Zahran, the head of the Jordan Opposition Coalition.  This plan was dubbed The Jordan Option.  Many if not all the principles set out in the plan are reflected in the Deal of the Century.

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