Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20 (The Israel Bible™)
The Palestinians are hoping to keep the United States from presenting its Middle East peace plan.
To this end, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has embarked on a tour of Arab states, to try to keep them from supporting the so-called “deal of the century” and to ensure the Arab leaders stick to their promise to support Palestinian demands on the core issues of the conflict, chief among them the recognition of eastern Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
U.S. President Donald Trump plans to consolidate a regional peace plan in collaboration with the moderate Arab states, in lieu of the two-state solution following a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Abbas in Bethlehem in which the American president said he intends to cut the Mideast deal. Trump noted the deal had earned the support of the moderate Arab states.
Now, senior government officials in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have confirmed that Abbas was recently informed by senior officials in Washington that Trump’s peace team is in the final stages of consolidating the plan. Once Trump approves it, senior U.S. adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt will visit the moderate Persian Gulf Arab states to present them with the details. Ramallah’s assessment is that the Trump administration will try to earn the support of the Arab states in order to attempt to execute the plan following the Israeli elections and once a new government has been formed in Jerusalem.
A senior Arab diplomat said that the regional peace plan was largely expected to include economic incentives, to be integrated within the main points of the Arab peace plan. The plan’s framework would lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and a normalization of ties between Israel and the Persian Gulf Arab states.
A senior Palestinian official claimed that Abbas was interested in keeping the influential Arab states—Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Persian Gulf Arab states—from endorsing the plan.
According to the official, “Later on, the [Palestinian] Authority chairman is expected to demand an emergency meeting of the Arab League countries, with the aim of blocking the attempts by the American president and his advisers Kushner and Greenblatt to enlist the support of the moderate Arab states for the peace plan.”
The senior Palestinian official added that Abbas’s attempts to convene an emergency meeting of the Arab League states have failed until now, although the league may convene at the Palestinians’ request in the coming days.
‘New approaches on the solution to the problem’
As part of these efforts, Abbas met with Saudi King Salman in the royal palace in Riyadh. Following their Tuesday meeting, the Saudis issued a statement saying that “it was made clear to the P.A. [leader] that Saudi Arabia continues to support its Palestinian brothers in the building of their independent state, with its capital in east Jerusalem.”
The Riyadh meeting appears to serve as a joint Saudi-Fatah response to Qatar’s continued economic support for Hamas, of which Abbas disapproves. Salman and Abbas discussed programs that would see Saudi Arabia provide economic support for the Palestinians. Given the fact that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has avoided sharing the Qatari funds with Fatah, Saudi Arabia is set to invest its efforts solely in the West Bank, in the hope of tightening the economic stranglehold on Gaza.
Nevertheless, senior officials in Ramallah, as well as Arab diplomats involved in Abbas’s efforts to thwart the American peace plan, emphasized that Saudi Arabia had merely issued a declaration of support.
They noted that “talks between the axis of moderate Sunni states and the Persian Gulf states and Trump’s people on the issue of support for the deal of the century have gone into high gear in recent days.”
A senior Egyptian official who is involved in talks with the Trump administration on the regional peace plan maintained that the “moderate Arab states look set to demand significant corrections to the American peace plan in order for it to suit the interests of the Arab states, but not necessarily the interests of the Palestinians. They [the Palestinians] will be forced to accept the plan—that or Trump will implement the plan with the support of the moderate Arab states, bypassing Abu Mazen [Abbas].”
A senior Palestinian official said: “The way it looks, all that remains for Abu Mazen to do is to try and minimize the damage as far as concerns Trump’s deal and hope for the American plan to clash unexpectedly with Israel’s interests.”
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke out against the upcoming peace plan.
“The ‘deal of the century’ is not enough to ensure a Palestinian state on the ’67 borders and will not include a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem,” he said. “The U.S. is proposing, or preferring, to impose new approaches on the solution to the problem.”