GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Western diplomatic sources unveiled Feb. 4 to Al-Hayat newspaper new details on the “deal of the century,” in which Palestinians will have their own “city of Jerusalem” by building new villages and neighborhoods. This is combined with the establishment of a Palestinian state that includes over half of the West Bank area, all of the Gaza Strip and some neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
It has become apparent that the US administration’s plan, which complies with Israeli aspirations, is on the point of being presented, following repeated leaks related to its details. Yet it is being prepared without any Palestinian input or approval.
The Gaza Strip-based Al-Resalah newspaper reported Jan. 19 that Israeli Channel 14 shed light on a leaked document by Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee Saeb Erekat, which he submitted to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas 10 days before it was disclosed to the public. The 92-page document discusses the US strategy for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which, according to the document, will be announced within two to three months.
Erekat stressed in the document that the Palestinian leadership should not give US President Donald Trump’s plan a chance or even examine it. Erekat affirmed that there is no reason to wait for such a plan that would preserve the status quo as is, legitimize Israeli settlements and establish the current Palestinian self-rule.
According to Arabi 21, the leaked document discussed the United States’ plan that allows for the annexation of 10% of the West Bank area to Israel; allocation of parts of Ashdod and Haifa for Palestinian use, while Israel remains in charge of the security there; the establishment of a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under Israeli sovereignty; and granting Israel the upper hand in the demilitarized Palestinian state, which will have its own police force.
Palestinians perceived this deal to be a dismantling of the Palestinian cause. Mazen Abu Zeid, who is in charge of the PLO Refugee Affairs Department, told Al-Monitor, “The deal of the century is a liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Since he took office, Trump’s decisions on the Palestinian cause — recognizing Jerusalem to be the capital [of Israel] and cutting aid, which was the largest package to UNRWA [UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees] — are designed to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Abu Zeid believes that the US administration’s actions and decisions confirm that the United States has a pro-Israeli bias. “The United States is a biased mediator in the peace process. It has broken all international laws and UN General Assembly resolutions and taken unilateral decisions, such as the deal of the century, which it seeks to levy on us. [The United States] seeks to reward the Israeli occupation with new lands, after occupying and seizing large parts of the Palestinian territories over the past years. What will be left of the West Bank following such a plan?”
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Al-Monitor that the United States’ and Israel’s goals concur in the deal. This is namely liquidating the Palestinian cause, refraining from giving the Palestinian people their rights back and taking important issues, particularly the Jerusalem and refugees issues, off the table.
He said, “Refraining from recognizing the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights to their land and sacred sites, denying them the right to return and expropriating their sovereignty over the land in exchange for a regional peace and normalization with the Arab world is the right way to liquidate the Palestinian cause. All of the Palestinian people’s components are required to strongly counter and never allow the passing of such a plan. The Palestinian Authority needs to adopt a clear position and trigger a major uprising involving all social components in a militant program that would be agreed upon at the national level.”
Akram Atallah, a political analyst and writer for Al-Ayyam newspaper, told Al-Monitor that details of the US plan are being leaked many times over and that we are learning that the Palestinian people oppose such a plan, and how the Arab and international world is reacting to it.
He said, “The goal is obviously to liquidate the Palestinian cause, since there is talk on a closure and legitimization of key dossiers. This includes declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel alone, which Trump has done, halting the UNRWA activity, and the Israeli government declaring a number of settlements annexed to Israel. The objective is to leave such dossiers behind. All of this is a liquidation of the Palestinian cause.”
Atallah believes that the plan could be passed forcibly and is dangerous mainly when it comes to the distorted image of the Palestinian state, which will consist of geographically separated and scattered lands between the settlements. Moreover, the plan was made and will be implemented in light of a seven-year-long deteriorating situation in the Arab world, and even a more degenerating situation at the Palestinian level due to the decadelong Fatah-Hamas split, he said.
The leaks evidently consist of trial balloons to learn how much the Palestinians are against the plan. Nevertheless, the US and Israeli sides seem to be carrying on with said plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause and produce a “distorted” and scattered state.