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A Thousand Nos: Palestinians React to “Deal of the Century”

January 29, 2020

by: Ilse Strauss

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Palestinians burning a photo of Trump in response to the release of his peace plan

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 | No, no and no. President Donald Trump had hardly stepped from the podium after unveiling the long-awaited “Deal of the Century” peace plan in Washington yesterday, when a fuming Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the proposal to foster peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians out of hand and in the strongest terms.

“We say a thousand times: No, no and not to the ‘Deal of the Century,’” Abbas raged during an emergency meeting with senior Palestinian leaders at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah about an hour and a half after President Trump’s big reveal.

His audience included, among others, representatives from the PA’s archenemies: Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, and Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in the coastal enclave. The rival Palestinian factions decided to lay their hatred for each other aside for the night to focus on a more pressing matter: President Trump’s refusal to kowtow his plans for Mideast peace to the Palestinians’ demands.

“We just heard President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about the slap of the century,” Abbas raged. “If God wills, we will strike them back with slaps.”

Abbas’s reaction hardly came as a surprise. The PA president has been livid at the Trump administration since the US president moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, and Abbas has vowed on more than one occasion before the plan’s publication that he would snub it. Last night he made good on that promise.

“We heard two years ago that he [President Trump] recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Abbas said. “They kept asking us to wait until the plan is announced. Now, we see that we were right when we rejected it from the beginning. Jerusalem is not for sale. Our rights are not for sale. The plot of the century won’t pass, and it will end up in the dustbin of history.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the senior Palestinian leaders at last night’s emergency meeting agreed to join forces to foil the plan, claiming that it aims to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Not to be left out, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were also quick to weigh in with their disdain for the peace plan.

“We announce our rejection of the ‘Deal of the Century,’” Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya told Al-Aqsa TV. “We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open. The occupation and the US administration will bear the responsibility for what they did.”

Tensions have been high yesterday in the run-up to the big reveal. Several Palestinian factions—including Abbas’s Fatah political party—had called for a “Day of Rage” and Palestinian protestors in Gaza and Judea and Samaria took to the streets to riot, chant their discontent with the plan, the US and Israel and burn effigies and posters of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The demonstrations were, however, rather tame and failed to draw the angry mob of seething Palestinians their leaders had hoped for.

As the Palestinian leaders rage, many around the world wonder at their vehement opposition to the 180-page plan that proposes the formation of a Palestinian state, something the Palestinians have been advocating for passionately. The answer is both simple and tragic. The proposed state would comprise approximately 70% of Judea and Samaria, selected neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the majority of the Gaza Strip and some parts of southern Israel—dimensions that the Palestinians’ all-or-nothing approach cannot accept. In fact, the Palestinians have flatly refused offers with much better land prospects in the past.

The promise of the Palestinian state also hinges on a number of preconditions. The Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip have to disarm, and incitement to terrorism and paying terrorists must cease. Israel will also retain sovereignty over all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital and apply sovereignty to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Moreover, the so-called Palestinian “refugees” will have no right to “return” to Israel, a particularly sore point for the Palestinians.

Should the Palestinians give their nod of approval to the “Deal of the Century” and agree to the terms and stipulations, they will have a state of their own within the next four years—with an added boon of more than $50 billion to set the newborn nation off on a prosperous start.

“If they show up…and agree to the different terms and conditions,” the Palestinians could have their own state tomorrow, explained Jared Kushner, architect of the plans and President Trump’s special Mideast advisor and son-in-law in a CNN interview.

However, every no from Abbas served as another nail in a future Palestinian state’s coffin. And with every no, the prospect of a prosperous future for the Palestinians became less likely.

Kushner ascribed the tragic fate of the Palestinians to their lamentable leadership. “You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. What we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not.”

He admitted that the chances of the Palestinian leaders stepping up and seizing the opportunity were slim. “They have a perfect track record of missing opportunities. If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking at the international community in the face saying they’re a victim, saying they have rights.”

Abbas isn’t prepared to take what he termed the “slap of the century” quietly. The Arab League announced that it would convene for an emergency meeting on Saturday at the behest of the PA president. Abbas has reportedly asked to address the session and is hoping to unite the Arab nations in snubbing the plan. However, with Egypt, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia—4 of the Arab League’s 22 members—having already issued statements singing the praises of President Trump’s peace plan, Abbas may be barking up the wrong tree.

There is much to be said for the “Deal of the Century,” its terms, detailed maps, pros and cons for Israel, benefits for the Palestinians, security challenges and so forth. However, perhaps one of the most pertinent points at present is that—once again—Israel is eager for peace and willing to make the necessary if painful concessions for peace. Yet once again, Israel finds itself without a partner for peace.

Posted on January 29, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 29, 2020)

Photo Credit: AFP News Agency/YouTube/screenshot

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