President Trump’s deal of the century (Deal) to end the 100 years old conflict between Arabs and Jews in former Palestine has seemingly hit a brick wall - following a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the 22 member countries of the Arab League on 1 February.
Their communique declared:
"The Arab League rejects the deal as it does not satisfy the minimum rights and ambitions of the Palestinians and violates international law and United Nations resolutions,"
Those minimum rights and ambitions have been spelled out for the last 46 years by their sole recognized spokesman – the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): the creation of an independent Arab State for the first time in recorded history on all the land lost by Jordan and Egypt to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and having its capital in East Jerusalem.
Trump apparently thought he had broken through the Arab League’s long-standing support for these non-negotiable demands as three Arab ambassadors from Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates stood beside him with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when releasing his Deal on 28 January.
The optics were good – but that vision was lost just four days later.
Trump appeared to have miscalculated the strength of Arab League opposition to his Deal. However that rejection has given Trump the opportunity to immediately proceed to complete that part of the Deal promised to Israel – the extension of Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank').
That possibility had first been raised by US Ambassador to Israel – David Friedman – on 8 June 2019 when he indicated Israel had a right to annex at least some, but “unlikely all” of the 'West Bank'.
Friedman then added:
“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves. These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cleared the way for Friedman’s scenario to happen on 18 November 2019:
“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the 'West Bank' is not per se inconsistent with international law”
Outright rejection by the PLO and the Arab League of Trump’s Deal has removed Pompeo’s caveat.
Pompeo stressed that this decision was:
“based on the unique facts, history, and circumstances presented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the 'West Bank'.”
Pompeo however added a warning caveat:
“…we are not addressing or prejudging the ultimate status of the 'West Bank'. This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate.”
Outright rejection by the PLO and the Arab League of Trump’s Deal has removed Pompeo’s caveat
Friedman - not unsurprisingly - tweeted on 9 February:
“.. the application of Israeli law to the territory which the Plan provides to be part of Israel is subject to the completion of a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee.”
The PLO and the Arab League had committed political suicide in rebuffing Trump – ensuring that part of Judea and Samaria ('West Bank)' will soon come under Israeli sovereignty whilst the Arabs correspondingly miss out.
Another golden opportunity to end the Jewish-Arab conflict has been lost by continuing Arab intransigency.
Trump’s strategy would see new boundaries being determined for Israel incorporating part of the Jewish People’s biblical, historic and ancestral heartland in Judea and Samaria.
The area his plan delineates would be small in size but massively significant for the psyche of the Jewish People – who have been waiting for this day to arrive for 3000 years.
President Trump is bringing that very long wait to an end.
Author’s note: The cartoon—commissioned exclusively for this article—is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators—whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog