U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone moving the U.S. Embassy to occupied Jerusalem for another six months on the pretext of bolstering the chances of an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis worries us
This is because this decision may be used as a means of blackmail in order to secure further strategic concessions from both Arabs and Palestinians. After all, ‘businessman’ Trump would not have made such a move unless he received a huge price in return. He escalates and exaggerates his threats in an attempt to intimidate his victims and drive them into complying with his demands, thereby securing a higher price from them.
He attacked the Arab Gulf governments during his election campaign, describing them as nothing but money machines that would not survive a single day without U.S. protection, adding that should pay for this protection from their oil returns. Saudi Arabia has paid the price in cash. The first installment was $460 billion in the form of arms deals and investments in U.S. infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, most of the other Arab Gulf states are standing in line waiting for their turn, ready to sign their check books once the sum has been decided.
After agreeing to postpone moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, President Trump will turn to the Arabs and Palestinians and demand to be paid back in the form of greater normalization and closer relations between the Arab states – specifically the Gulf states – and the Israeli occupation state. For example, he will demand the establishment of phone and communication networks, direct air flights, opening embassies or trade offices, lifting all restrictions on the entry of Israelis (especially businessmen) into Arab capitals, signing arms deals, concluding security cooperation agreements, and holding joint military maneuvers.
A long list of concessions will also be demanded from the Palestinians, most importantly recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, returning to direct negotiations without any pre-conditions, ending all forms of ‘incitement’ against the occupation, expanding security coordination, and ceasing to pay PA salaries to the families of prisoners held in the occupation’s prisons.
Two days before the announcement that the movement of the U.S. embassy to occupied Jerusalem has been postponed, PA PM Rami al-Hamdallah met with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon for the first time since 2000. The aim was to reach an agreement on expanding the PA’s powers in the Area-C territories that constitute 60% of the West Bank. These discussions focused on building permits, ending Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, and opening the Karameh crossing on the River Jordan for 24 hours a day throughout the month of Ramadan so as to make it easier for people to cross. In fact, we believe that it is not unlikely for Trump’s decision to have been already agreed upon during the May 20th Riyadh summits as a prelude to convening a Washington ‘peace conference’ that brings the Arabs and Israelis together, and that will launch the normalization of relations in various fields.
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv
All U.S. presidents have promised to move the U.S. embassy to occupied Jerusalem. But none have fulfilled their promise. However, the main difference is that Trump has escalated and sent an extremist Jewish ambassador to Tel Aviv so as to raise the price. And it seems he will get what he wants from the Arabs and Palestinians in return for this step, cost-free this time.
The peace that Trump wants to encourage between the Arabs and the Israelis is an economic peace. It is, moreover, a one-way economic peace directed from the Arabs towards the Israelis in the form of monies, arms deals, investments, and trade exchanges that revive Israeli companies. As for the two-state solution, or Israel’s withdrawal, or an end to settlement activities, these are taboo issues that the Arabs had better forget.
The recent meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Trump in Bethlehem was stormy. The U.S. president violated all protocol when he shouted in his Palestinian host’s face, accusing him of tricking him and persisting with ‘incitement’ against Israel and not committing to the culture of peace. But ‘incitement’ as Trump understands it, and as the Israelis – who provided him with documents in this regard – understand it, consists of items in Palestinian school curriculums calling for the right of return, and that depict Israel as an occupying enemy, naming schools and streets after martyrs, and glorifying Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
In short, the Palestinians, but also the Arabs, are expected to erase their memories and embrace the Israelis as friends, allies, and gentle lambs. Anything else is seen as incitement and barbarism. For the enemy from now on is Iran; and anyone who says otherwise is a terrorist, an extremist, a Zoroastrian, and a religious heretic.
Binyamin Netanyahu’s disappointment at the postponement of the decision to move the embassy is only a theatrical pretense and the basest form of deception and disinformation. For Netanyahu knew about the decision, agrees to it, and has already agreed on the price and the returns beforehand. But it is we who have been deceived and fooled. And there is nothing new about that.