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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Deal of the Century Has No Buyers in the Arab World

Filed under: Palestinians, The Middle East, U.S. Policy

The Deal of the Century Has No Buyers in the Arab World
Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon (Arab press)

Recently, it was again reported that the White House team was about to publicize Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” but until now, apart from possibly Saudi Arabia, the deal has had no buyers in the Arab world, and certainly not among its supposed clientele, the Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt.

Regarding the Palestinians, it is very clear: Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO are not prepared in any way for any deal that is less than their maximum demands, which are primarily the “right of return” and Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines in general, and specifically to Jerusalem. Things are more complicated with regard to Jordan and Egypt.

Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon
Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon (Arab press)

For Jordan, the main problem is finding the solution to the refugee issue at its expense. Jordan would have to come to terms with the fact that millions of Palestinians would finally get full citizenship and participate in domestic politics – and what might be worse – would have to settle within Jordan’s territory refugees from Lebanon to help Lebanon restore its ethnic balance. While the issue remains open, an option may remain for them to return to “Palestine,” whether inside the West Bank or inside Israel itself.

Meanwhile, the Bedouin sector, which is the mainstay of the Jordanian army and administration, refuses to surrender any power to Palestinians and is currently relatively calm.  

Jordan is not prepared for such an agreement, not even for the hefty funds that would be offered as part of the deal. It is concerned that if it refuses, Saudi Arabia will pressure it with regard to Jordan’s traditional tie to Jerusalem, but there are no signs that Saudi Arabia is interested in Jerusalem. However, from Jordan’s point of view, happy is the person who is always worried.

Egypt has two reservations: It does not want to take responsibility for Gaza, and it seeks to limit its connections with Hamas to security issues in Sinai only. However, its main reservation is the issue of the Arab version of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).

No one has any illusions that the Palestinians are of any interest to anyone among the Sunni nations, but the whole deal is intended to remove the Palestinian problem as an obstacle to establishing the Arab version of NATO along with Israel. This is the real reason why Saudi Arabia is interested in the deal, because it wants Egypt and Jordan to send their troops to the war in Yemen, and maybe in Syria, but this is exactly what Egypt and Jordan do not want to do.

Reports on the deal keep popping up, but it still has no Arab buyers.