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DONALD TRUMPS: "Deal of the Century" could, in the worst case, end up being a trigger for the original potential for conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

The Middle East peace plan unveiled at the end of January this year at a White House press conference in Washington by President <br><br>Donald Trump and the recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, but without the participation of representatives of the Palestinian camp, seems to be able to become a political trump card in the midst of a crisis for both top politicians.

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has previously rejected the peace treaty, calling it "the final phase of the Balfour Declaration", the British government document from 1917, which for the first time publicly pleaded for the establishment of a Jewish state. This is a characteristic that may not be entirely wrong, as the words "Jewish State" are mentioned for the first time since 1947 in the 181-page plan, which also consists of an economic vision for the area.

Perhaps that is precisely the reason why Israel's recently re-elected Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, sees the plan as the fulfillment of Israel's dream. In the 72nd year of Israel's creation, Netanyahu – and Israel – are at a crucial turning point. Following the Israeli election to the Knesset in March this year, the third in a year, the Israeli Prime Minister is in the situation that his right-wing bloc in the Knesset does not have a majority – two seats are missing. But on the evening of April 20, it was announced that Benny Gantz of the Blue and Whites and Netanyahu's wing had joined forces on the occasion of the national emergency Israel is in due to coronacrisis. Gantz called it "a sacrifice for the nation." Observers say the initiative will benefit Netanyahu the most, with corruption allegations coming to court in late May.

Trump's peace plan could become the project that saves Netanyahu, the former military man, architect graduate and ambassador's political future and makes all those Israelis who want a permanent security of the State of Israel's borders join him. Not least the around 300.000 who do not usually go to the polls.

An unsolvable task?

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The "father" of the Palestine peace plan is Trump's Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who according to an article in The Guardian last year via the analysis institute Cambridge Analytica had a large share in Trump's election as president in 2016. Kushner has flown around the Middle East for three years to prepare the so-called Peace to Prosperity plan. Trump daily calls Kushner "my son." He attributes to the 39-year-old real estate developer and investor who, after the most expensive real estate purchase in Manhattan's history, has office number 666 on Fifth Avenue in New York City, almost unlimited bargaining power.

But the question is, whether Jared Kushner and his team faces an unsolvable task. It is the area around the Jordan Valley, the West Bank and East Jerusalem that over the years has been the crucial point of conflict in terms of creating peace between Israelis and Palestinians. However, the Trump administration's plan has now gone a step further – perhaps the main reason why Benjamin Netanyahu calls Trump the best friend Israel has ever had among US presidents.

Several of the world's leading newspapers express that The Deal of the Century may risk ending up as «The Bluff of the Century».

Out of 8,7 million inhabitants in Israel itself, there are almost 2 million Palestinians who partly work in Israel and partly commute to the country from the West Bank. Some of them are employed by Israeli farmers in the fertile Jordan Valley, among other things with the production of dates – which is one of the finest in the world and takes place primarily for export. All Palestinians working in Israeli settlements are in possession of passports, which ensure that their names do not appear in the Israeli security forces' lists of suspects in illegal activities. Many do not have a special interest in politics, but want to be able to support their families, and they hope to obtain the blue Israeli passport, which gives them access to the Israeli social system.

But it is far from everywhere that Israeli supremacy in the region is accepted equally unreservedly. It causes extremism and hatred to flourish on both sides. The problems are greatest where Palestinian territories of autonomy border the settlements currently inhabited by up to 600.000 Israelis.

In December 2016, the settlements were declared illegal by FN, because the territory belongs to the Palestinians, but shifting Israeli governments have encouraged them with economic incentives, including by confiscating land from Palestinian villages. However, Trump & Kushner's peace plan calls for a 4-year freeze on Israeli settlement.

The vulnerable border areas

Israel occupied the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem during the 6 Six-Day War to secure its existence. Overall, it is the longest and most extensive occupation in modern times. Israel, however, does not recognize the term occupation, but perceives the area as a no-man's land, no one has made legitimate claims to, and claims that it has belonged to the Jewish people for millennia.

Over the years, however, the country has evacuated about 88 percent of the occupied territories. After Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005, where 99 percent of the population is Arab, it was increasingly exposed to rocket attacks by Hamas partisans stationed in the area. It has changed the political perception of many Israelis and made them join Netanyahu.

Benny Gantz from the Blue and Whites and Netanyahu's wing joined forces on the occasion of the national
emergency.

The fewest settlers in the West Bank are religious fanatics, but insist on the importance of securing Israel's border, and they are a power factor in the region because they ensure Israel's influence in precisely the vulnerable border areas.

In particular, the control of the Jordan Valley east of the West Bank is considered crucial for Israel's security, because it will be possible to smuggle weapons, rockets and terrorists into Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank. For the same reason, over the past 50 years, Israeli policy has primarily catered to the wishes of the settlers. When Barack Obama's Secretary of State, John Kerry, tried his hand as a peace negotiator in 2014, he informed the Palestinians that Israel would participate in the control of a Palestinian eastern border. Representatives of the Palestinian side categorically rejected this.

The Oslo agreements

The Peace to Prosperity Plan sets the boundaries of a Palestinian state that is very close to the boundaries agreed upon by Yitzak Rabin in Oslo in 1993 and 1995 – an agreement which, however, has never been ratified by Palestinian representatives.

Furthermore, one of the conditions of the peace agreement is that the Palestinians do not insist on the implementation of UN Resolution 194 of 1948, which promises about 7 million Palestinians permission to return to their homeland.

Leading voices among both Palestinians and Israelis and several of the world's leading newspapers express that The Deal of the Century may risk ending up as "The Bluff of the Century". Thus, in December 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the action prompted the UN to convene an emergency meeting, whose condemnation of Trump's decision, however, was voted down by United States, which as the only country among 14 vetoed.

The peace plan's notion of East Jerusalem as at once the capital of a Palestinian state and the demand for "an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel" seems like an ambivalent mindset with an unfortunate potential for conflict. Maybe like the issue itself?

David Elhajani, representative of the Settlers' Council, Jescha, who speaks for the interests of Israelis throughout the occupied territory, compares the peace plan to giving the Palestinians the keys to a Mercedes. It's just that the car has no engine. The Palestinians will never agree to a state in which important Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, which they consider their capital, have been brought under Israeli sovereignty, he believes. On the other hand, Israel will never recognize a Palestinian state in the middle of Israeli territory.

Trump, a forerunner and messenger á la John the Baptist, who for the time being has cried out in a desert of folly?

Perhaps that's why, after Netanyahu's presentation of the plan in January, probably with his eyes set on the upcoming election and partly encouraged by Trump himself enthusiastically, showed intentions to bring the extension of Israel's sovereignty to the Israeli parliament, Jared Kushner warned him to go it alone.

It may have suddenly dawned on Kushner that the likelihood of broad Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state is minimal. Moreover, Kushner's friends in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates may have been skeptical about the plan's lack of concessions to the Palestinians.

The two-state solution

Paradoxically, it could become the international principle of a two-state solution to the conflict in Palestine, which due to the complex cultural complexity of the area is almost predestined to trigger border disputes and may end up making the US peace plan impossible to implement. In 2016, Trump was open to the shaping of the character that state formation should have in a peace plan for the area, but two years later, he had suddenly made the two-state solution a condition.

Yet there is political support for the US plan in Israel. Also participating in the coalition, Benny Gantz, who until October 2021 will occupy the post of Secretary of Defense, believes in The Deal of the Century and spoke before the election that as soon as it was over, one would start implementing it.

A trump card for Trump?

The Trump administration's plan for peace in the Middle East could end up being a prestigious project not only for Israel's own politicians – but for an American president who is facing the need for his manic confidence in his own abilities during a likely second term. Ever since Harry S. Truman after World War II proposed a division of Palestine by 2 percent to the Palestinians and 2 percent to Israel, a Middle East peace plan has been such a prestigious project for U.S. presidents.

In the readable Donald Trump: The Making of a World View collects the two British university-educated historians, Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman, press statements and interviews of Trump since he first came forward with political views in the early 1980s. Here one can read that in a conversation with the left-liberal British newspaper, The Observer, sometime in the eighties, he stated that if he were ever to become president, then he would give high priority to resolving the conflict in the Middle East. With his usual belief in his own abilities, Trump believes he is the man to implement it because anything can be done if one has the talent for what he said at the time.

When the peace plan was launched in January, Donald Trump himself faced a federal lawsuit, which he was acquitted of just a week later. The election for the autumn is between Trump and Joe Biden, and the question is whether the former's protectionist policy in times of various fear scenarios will not strengthen his chances in the long run.

Donald J. Trump has hardly completed what he became president of, and which, among other things, makes thousands of so-called Christian new evangelicals in the United States see him as a kind of Messiah. Eighty percent of this strongly right-wing electorate, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, see Trump as a possible new "Queen Esther" to save Israel from its enemies, and Trump depends on them to be re-elected.

Trump himself sees himself better than the Messiah, as a forerunner and messenger á la John the Baptist, who for the time being has cried out in a desert of folly. With the forthcoming peace plan, he finally seems to have the prospect of being heard. The Deal of the Century may, paradoxically, become the decisive foreign policy card for this domestic-minded president with a view to a re-election to a second term.

But who – and what – is he messenger of?

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