Experts' Comments

“Deal of the Century”: Does it Present a Realistic Solution to the Palestinian Issue?

EPC | 20 Feb 2020

“Deal of the Century”: Does it Present a Realistic Solution to the Palestinian Issue?

The US President Donald Trump has finally unveiled the “Deal of the Century” which includes his administration’s vision for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump’s aids have been promoting this deal for months. The 6th Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, which was held by the Emirates Policy Center in Nov. 2019, dedicated one of its sessions to this deal and its implications. The following are the key ideas presented by speakers on this issue:

Shibley Telhami

Shibley Telhami

What President Trump is doing is different from former US presidents; he is putting more pressure on Palestinians to accept his vision for a solution. In fact, the Trump Administration is the only American administration that acts preemptively to support Israeli position. His administration’s position on Jerusalem was very clear. It is the only administration that has neglected the internationally recognized terms of reference to solve the conflict, such as the UN Security Council resolutions and previous agreements. The Trump Administration believes that there is a situation on the ground where Israel prevails and the Palestinians must accept it.

It is true that the current Palestinian leadership can be blamed for being ineffective in managing the battle of peace and settlement with Israel. Had President Mahmoud Abbas been more clever, he should have confronted the Israeli government’s position and policies better. This, however, does not mean that the Palestinians and Arabs accept what President Trump and his administration are proposing.

* Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland Member, Council on Foreign Relations.

David Makovsky

David Makovsky

We can say that three people in the Trump Administration were responsible for drafting the “Deal of the Century” in its current form including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. An economic conference was organized in Bahrain to present one of the fundamental aspects of the deal. The conference introduced a number of incentives to the Palestinians to overcome what was proposed by previous American administrations.

While the economic side of the “Deal of the Century” includes some very good points, the real problem lies in the political side of it. This explains why the Palestinian president rejected it in the first place. Needless to say, any proposed settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be satisfactory to both sides. Otherwise, it will not work.

And yet, regardless of the various positions on President Trump’s peace plan, the door must be kept open for the two-state solution, as GCC and other Arab countries should keep supporting this formula. Today, there exists a real opportunity to end the struggle between the Palestinians and Israelis, and we must all work towards this end.

* David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations.

Robert Malley

Robert Malley

In my estimation, the “Deal of the Century” has nothing to do with the priorities of the current U.S administration and it’s an issue of interest only to those who worked on it and who are seeking to promote it. The main reason that made President Trump propose this plan is his wish to deal with an issue that has been included on the agendas of all former U.S administrations. Moreover, Iran’s pressing issue and the attempt to establish a unified front against Iran in partnership with Israel has contributed to this move as well.

If we carefully examine what is happening on the ground, the signs of a ready solution for this long-standing crisis or an acceptance of the peace plan proposed by the current U.S administration are currently lacking; not to mention the fact that the two-state solution is no longer valid with the current imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians. I do not see any alternative solution that can be accepted and supported by both parties and this is the main problem that faces the ““Deal of the Century” in its current formula.

* Robert Malley, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group.