The Bahrain Conference and the ‘Deal of the Century’

The White House announced on the 19th of May 2019,  that it will hold an economic workshop in Manama, capital of Bahrain, late in June 2019, which was an announcement with respect to the economic aspect of President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan (Middle East website, 20/05/2019). Before the workshop, on the 22 June 2019, Kushner disclosed the economic aspect of the peace plan. The plan includes the establishment of an international investment fund worth $50 billion to revive the Palestinian economy and the economies of neighbouring Arab countries, as well as to build a transport corridor linking the West Bank with the Gaza Strip worth five billion dollars.) (France 24 on 24/6/2019). The conference is hence labelled as the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop for the encouragement of investment in the Palestinian Territory (BBC Arabic website on 25/6/2019).

Jared Kushner, advisor and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, opened the Bahrain Workshop. Kushner revealed some details of the $50 billion US development plan in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, pointing out that there is a possibility to double the Palestinian GDP and provide jobs. (RT agencies on 25/6/2019). Kushner, said: “Washington will announce a plan for a political solution when it is ready”  and following the completion of the Bahrain Economic Workshop that; “The Bahrain conference shows that the Middle East problem can be solved economically” (Al-Alam TV website, 26/6/2019).The final statement concluded with “great optimism about the economic development and investment for the benefit of the Palestinian people.”

The final day’s discussions focused on the development of the labour force through the empowerment of women and the importance of effective communication with the young people who face high unemployment rates. Kushner’s proposed economic plan, aims at injecting $28 billion in investments in the Palestinian territories, and allocating $22 billion in additional investments (grants and subsidized loans) in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, which host Palestinian refugees. (Anadolu Agency on 27/6/2019)

Thus, the conference is an entrance to create the atmosphere to pass the deal of the century when it is announced, in other words it is a financial bribe, Trump’s way, to the regimes of the region, Arabs and non-Arabs to take up Trump’s deal to their countries.

Deal of the Century and What was Leaked of it?

America has adopted the two-state solution since 1959 under Eisenhower, who launched this project. It moved Abdel Nasser to implement it. America founded through him the PLO under the leadership of Ahmed Al-Shukeiri in 1964. Once Shukeiri left the organization after the defeat in 1967, Britain through her client King Hussein and with the support of the Gulf States in 1968 managed to put Yasser Arafat at the head of the PLO, who advocated the British solution, the secular Palestinian state project when he founded Fatah in 1965 with the support of regional clients. But he gave up calling for the British solution under the pressure of America’s cleint Anwar Sadat in Egypt and Hafez Assad in Syria, and adopted the American solution. Hence,  the Arab League recognised in 1974 the organization as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and it was also recognized by the United Nations and entered as an observer member. In 1988 Arafat officially declared his recognition of the existence of Israel and his acceptance of the usurpation of about 80% of Palestine, when he declared the establishment of the State of Palestine and formally accepted the American project by saying “two states for two peoples in Palestine”.

The Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and a PLO-led Palestinian Authority was established with the goal of establishing a Palestinian state by 1999. Yet throughout the Clinton era, America was unable to implement it. When George W. Bush Jr. came into office, the Arab League adopted in 2002 the so-called Saudi Initiative, which was called the Arab Initiative. It states that the Arab states are prepared to recognize Israel if they accept a Palestinian state next to them. Subsequently, in 2003, the United States issued the road map, which stipulates the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005, and founded the Quartet for the Middle East, yet was unable to establish this state. And it put all its weight on President Obama to implement the two-state solution by resuming negotiations twice in 2009 and 2013 but this failed. All American presidents worked to implement the two-state solution but failed. Until Trump came, America saw its inability to implement its two-state solution and wanted to change or amend it. Congress passed a resolution in 1995 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but made its decision non-binding on the president, leaving any future US president to have the authority to implement the decision whenever he wishes.

Trump began to walk in this line after he was sworn in. He said in a speech that the two-state solution is not the only way to end the “Israeli”-Palestinian conflict, saying he is ready for alternative options if they lead to peace. Trump said: “I am looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like,”… “If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me,” he said. “If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy if they’re happy.” (Al-Jazeera 16/2/2017). Then signs followed showing Trump’s line, he transferred the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in September 2017, which means that Trump announced his agreement that Jerusalem be part of Israel in the Trump plan. Trump then talked about resolving the conflict between Palestine and Israel forward through a final deal or deal of the century. Then Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump and the Senior Advisor and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special envoy to the Middle East, started promoting the deal of the century. Kushner travelled to many countries in February 2019 to gain support for the plan, meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He met Erdogan also in Ankara on 27 April 2019 and then with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman.

These visits focused on winning the support of the rulers in the region. Trump’s administration then promised that the plan would be handed over to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2018, but was postponed until early 2019, due to the delay of elections in Israel to May 2019. Then by the month of Ramadan, Trump stated that the new roadmap would be announced after the month of Ramadan in June 2019. It is now been postponed to November 2019 after the Israeli elections.

 Trump was disturbed by Netanyahu not at being able to win the elections the first time. Trump described, in a press statement in front of the White House when leaving to Britain, the political situation in Israel, , after Netanyahu failed to form a government before the expiration of the deadline as “messy”, stating; “Bibi was elected, and now suddenly they will repeat the whole elections again by September… It’s ridiculous, and we’re not happy with it.” (Russia Today 03/06/2019).

Non-disclosure of the deal and the leaks:

Leaks about the ‘Deal of the Century’, are intended, and they are close to what is being prepared. Most of these leaks were quoted by the Jewish newspaper, Israel Hayom on 7 May 2019. The newspaper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, leading financial supporter of the Trump election campaign who is also close to Netanyahu. According to the newspaper, the leaks include:

1. “The Agreement: a tripartite agreement between “Israel”, : An agreement will take place between PLO and Hamas and a Palestinian state called the ‘New Palestine’ will be established on the territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip excluding existing Jewish settlements.

2. Evacuation of the land: The settlement blocs remain as they are and will be joined by the isolated settlement blocs and will extend and continue with each other and remain in the hands of the Israel.

3. Jerusalem: will not be divided and will be shared between Israel and Palestine and the Arab population will be transferred to become the inhabitants of new Palestine and not the Israelis. The Jerusalem municipality will be comprehensive and responsible for all the lands of Jerusalem except for the education, which will be the responsibility of the new Palestine. New Palestine will pay the UNRWA tax to the Jewish Jerusalem municipality (tax levies imposed on users of buildings, land and water).

4. Gaza: Egypt will grant new land to the Palestinians for the establishment of an airport and factories and for commercial and agriculture exchange without allowing the Palestinians to live there.

5. Army: New Palestine is forbidden to have an army, and the only weapon is that of the police force. Hamas will dismantle all its weapons and armaments, including those owned by individual and handed over to the Egyptians. Hamas’s men will instead take monthly salaries from Arab countries. A year after the agreement, elections are to be held for a Palestinian government. A year after the elections, all the prisoners will be released gradually over a period of three years.

Within five years, a Palestinian seaport and a Palestinian airport will be built and until then the Palestinians will use the airports and ports of Israel. The border between Palestine and Israel remains open as “friendly” countries. A suspended bridge will be built, that rises 30 meters above the ground, connecting Gaza and the West Bank. The task is entrusted to a Chinese company with stakes for China 50%, Japan 10%, South Korea 10%, Australia 10%, Canada 10%, America and EU together 10%.

The Jordan Valley will remian in the hands of Israel as it is today, and Route 90 will become a road of four tracks, with Israel overseeing its division. Two of the roads will be for the Palestinians who will supervise it as it will connect Palestine with Jordan.

Although these leaks are informal, they are by a Jewish newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, a major financial supporter of Trump election campaign and who is also close to Netanyahu. This means that many of these leaks reflect the view of Trump and his associates which effectively leaves the two state solution now dead and buried.  Kushner said: “The deal of the century may be devoid of a two-state solution and Jerusalem will be the eternal capital of Israel (BBC 2/5/2019). Even the settlements in the West Bank continue to erode what remains of the West Bank, which does not exceeds 12%, and this part is under the military power of Israel.

As for the expected success of Trump’s deal, there are doubts. Trump stated that his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, might be right in his assessment that the expected American administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East could fail. The Washington Post quoted Pompeo as saying to a group of Jewish leaders in New York that the plan, which has been postponed many times may not gain momentum. (Times of Israel, 03/06/2019)

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