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Arab columnists take Palestinians to task for rejecting US peace plan

Leading Arab writers urge Palestinians not to reject “deal of century” out off hand, and to make the most of upcoming U.S.-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain.

U.S. President Donald Trump with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman during their meeting on March 14, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman during their meeting on March 14, 2017, at the White House in Washington, D.C. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

The Trump administration’s Middle East peace initiative, known as the “deal of the century,” which has yet to be officially announced, as well as the “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop to be held in Bahrain on June 25-26, which aims to garner “support for potential economic investment and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement,” continue to be widely discussed in the Arab press.

Amid much criticism of the American initiative, and while the Palestinians have announced they will not attend the Bahrain workshop, some leading columnists in the Arab press have expressed a different opinion. They have called not to reject the initiative out of hand, and strongly condemned the Palestinian and Arab rejection of many peace initiatives in the past.

Articles in the Gulf and Egyptian press have harshly criticized the Palestinians and Arabs for repeatedly losing opportunities to resolve their problems, and advised them to view the American Mideast peace plan with an open mind, enter negotiations and strive to make the most of them, agreeing to make concessions where necessary.

In Jordan, amid widespread opposition to the U.S. initiative, there have been a few articles arguing that the country should participate in the Bahrain workshop to defend its positions on the Palestinian issue, and also as an opportunity to improve Jordan’s economic situation. Support for the initiative was also expressed by Jordanian Parliament member Fuaz Al-Zo’bi.

In a May 14, 2019 article in the Saudi English-language Arab News, titled “A Gleam of Hope As We Recall the Nakba,” the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Faisal J. Abbas, wrote that “Jared Kushner’s peace plan” could be the Palestinians’ last, best chance to achieve a state. Saudi Arabia can help, he added, by persuading Arab and Muslim countries to back the plan, and by working with donor countries “to ensure a sustainable and prosperous life for Palestinians.”

He wrote: “Palestinians today mark the 71st anniversary of the Nakba, the ‘Day of Catastrophe,’ when displacement, occupation and injustice befell the people of Palestine as a result of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Since that day in 1948, all attempts to restore Palestinian lands, whether by peaceful or military means, have failed …

“When Arab News marked last year’s 70th anniversary of the Nakba with a special issue, I wrote that peace was ‘remote but still possible’ … However, an interesting development has been brewing for the past few months that may, just may, reverse the situation and make peace more possible and less remote—the Jared Kushner peace plan. … It is all very well for veteran politicians and diplomats to carp about Kushner’s lack of experience in such matters, but what exactly have they achieved in more than 70 years of trying to resolve this conflict? Too much ‘process’ and not enough ‘peace,’ I would suggest …

The full article is available at the MEMRI website.

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