The Palestinian Authority leadership furiously rejected the US’s intention to publish its Deal of the Century peace plan next week, following reports on the various elements of the plan and the timing of the publication, before the Israeli elections in March.
Speaking from Kuwait with TPS, Fatah senior Jabril Rajoub who is a leading candidate to succeed Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas (and not necessarily through elections), said that “any plan that does not guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and which does not result in the division of Jerusalem, will be disaster for both peoples, both Israeli and Palestinian.”
Sounds like a threat.
Rajoub expressed concern over the intention to publish the plan in the near future and said that “only the two-state solution can guarantee hope and security for Israelis and Palestinians and create safe boundaries and positive relations between the parties.”
Rajoub also said that “a consensual diplomatic solution is the only way to ensure the interests and stability of the entire region.”
Speaking of consensual diplomatic solutions, Rajoub was suspended for a year from attending any FIFA games, after running an intimidation campaign against Argentina’s soccer team before it was slated to play in Israel, breaching Article 53 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code for inciting hatred and violence.
Similarly, a Ramallah official told TPS that the US has updated the PA that it intends to publish the Deal of the Century on January 28, and it estimates that it is a “very difficult” plan for the “Palestinians,” as it is very close to Israel’s positions.
Another official in Ramallah reported that there is American pressure on Israel to settle for declaring the Jordan Valley as a security zone and to avoid its full annexation at the moment while providing a green light for annexing all the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
Ramallah links the publication of the plan to the political scene in Israel. A senior PA official says it is clear to Abbas, who prefers that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz become prime minister, that the invitation to the US is “a planned ambush by Netanyahu with the help of the US president.”
According to information obtained by the PA, the Trump administration wants to force Gantz to accept the plan, even before the Israeli elections, suggesting complete coordination between Netanyahu and the Trump.
Attorney Zaid Ayoubi, head of the Arab Center for Strategic Affairs which is close to the Palestinian Authority leadership, told TPS that the road to a third intifada is a short one because the US program is hurting the core of “Palestinian” rights.
“The Fatah organization cannot sit unresponsively and the leadership is unlikely to contain this serious damage to its positions, in the way it has contained the various crises in recent years,” he said.
“This is a serious attack on the Palestinian people, their dignity and rights. Netanyahu is not alone in deciding on the future of the Palestinian people, nor is Trump, acting for campaigning reasons and courting the Zionist and Jewish lobby in the US,” he charged.
“Elections considerations in Israel and the US are creating a serious crisis in the entire region and are returning Israelis and Palestinians to the first stage of the military conflict,” he added.
Fatah officials believe that the compromising Arab mainstream positions will disappear following the end of the two-state idea.
“The Palestinians will now renew their claims on Haifa, Acre and Jaffa,” says Ayoubi, adding that the readiness for a territorial compromise will give way to the Palestinian demand for all areas of “Greater Palestine.”
Jordan is also awaiting the publication of the plan. Jordanian commentator and Israeli affairs expert Ayman Khuniti expressed concern that “annexing the Jordan Valley will complicate relations with Jordan and even destroy the peace agreement, a strategic asset.”
Khuniti pointed out that “Israel has a very long border with Jordan” and the publication of the plan, besides the annexation of the Jordan Valley, could severely damage the peace agreement.
Words Without Actions
Alongside these “official” positions, other Fatah officials admit that the PA leadership cannot thwart the Israeli-American plan because it understands that the Arab street has abandoned the PA and is not willing to sacrifice itself again, following the previous intifada failures and the corruption that has been exposed in all areas of government.
F.A., a senior Fatah official, believes that Abbas “is preoccupied with Fatah’s succession struggles and above all, he fears a Hamas wave of violence and this reduces the chance of widespread popular uprising.”
“In Ramallah, it is clear that the Palestinians are no longer ready to die for Abu Mazen,” the Fatah official said, adding, “therefore, only if Fatah’s Tanzim goes out to the streets, and certainly if they exploit the issue of the holy places [in Jerusalem], can the developments also sweep the crowds to the streets.”
Advocate V.C. from eastern Jerusalem told TPS that the mood on the Arab street now, 25 years after Oslo, indicates an indifference to the Palestinian Authority, which is unable to face Israel.
However, assessments in the PA is that mounting renewed tensions around the holy sites in Jerusalem, with Hamas’ clear involvement, could under the current circumstances, lead to a wave of violence.
Waqf officials in eastern Jerusalem told TPS that Jordan is concerned about the possibility that the US will give the Saudis a foothold in the mosques on the Temple Mount, at the expense of the Hashemite family.