U.S., Israel, Saudis Working 'Hand in Hand' On New Peace Deal - By Leo Hohmann - www.wnd.com
A much-overlooked motive for President Trump's historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is to jump-start the Middle East peace process, and do it on terms more favorable to Israel, experts on the Middle East tell WND.
As the world will soon find out, Arab leaders in Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan who would have normally balked at such a deal, are now eager to see it consummated.
A key line in President Trump's speech announcing his change of longstanding U.S. policy toward Jerusalem was this:
"It is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future."
The call for younger voices to be heard was a direct jab at Mahmoud Abbas, the entrenched, corrupt 82-year-old Palestinian leader.
Abbas's days may be numbered, says Dr. Mark Christian, a former Islamic imam who converted to Christianity and founded the Omaha, Nebraska-based Global Faith Institute. He says back channel peace negotiations have been going on for months.
"The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is working closely with Trump and [Jared] Kushner on this, with Netanyahu working hand in hand with them. It is amazing, because we never had a leader in America like this before who is open minded, who's not coming in with an agenda other than what's good for America," says Christian. "His critics say he is an idiot, but he sits down, he listens and he goes on with doing things that were unthinkable before. He just says 'I don't care. I'm making a deal with all those leaders.'"
Frank Gaffney, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan, agrees that Abbas is on the way out and that the Saudis are toying with a new policy that could lead to a "sea change" in the Middle East.
"They have in the past played a double game. There are those who think under in Crown Prince bin Salman that will end and they will become responsible players," Gaffney said. "I'm skeptical, but in think the immediate question is, do the Saudis throw in with the Palestinians and a new violent intifada? I don't think they intend to do that as they seem to have come to the conclusion that Israel is a shared ally in their concerns about the growing threat from Iran, so I don't think it's in their interest to do that. They could flip, but the jury is still out on that."
Trump critics, and even some of his supporters, claim the move of recognizing Jerusalem's status as the undivided capital is too risky and could provoke violence among Muslims who see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
But Dr. Christian says Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there is brilliant because it is so provocative.
"Yeah, Trump is provoking but it is also a very strategic decision aimed to stir things up, to reset the deck. Do not be taken in by all the phony statements the Arab leaders are putting out," says Christian, who was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, where he was raised by a father steeped in the Muslim Brotherhood. "They had to do that."
Those "phony" statements denouncing Trump's decision came from President el-Sisi in Egypt, King Abdullah in Jordan and King Salman in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi royal court issued a statement Thursday saying it warned against this move and "continues to express its deep regret at the U.S. administration's decision," describing it as "unjustified and irresponsible."
Don't be fooled says Dr. Christian, whose given name was Mohamed Abdullah until he converted to Christianity in his late 20s.
"The bottom line is this move was run past the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Saudis ahead of time and they all approved of it," said Christian. "It's aimed at [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas. He has been told, 'either you accept this deal or you're out. It is time to solve this problem once and for all.'"
An article in the New York Times Monday seems to back up Christian's theory. It said Abbas had a difficult meeting in Saudi Arabia last month with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which the prince basically told the Palestinian leader that he will have to get on board with a new peace deal with Israel or he will be "replaced."
While details of the plan remain unknown, it would be a "two state solution" tilted toward Israel to the extent that "no Palestinian leader could ever accept it" and remain in power, according to the New York Times. Under the plan, the Palestinians would receive limited sovereignty, Israel would remain in the vast majority of its settlements, and Egypt would deliver to the Palestinians a slice of the northern Sinai to go along with Gaza. The new capital of "Palestine" would be in Abu Dis, a suburb of East Jerusalem.
Christian said the Arab countries, supported by the Europeans, Americans and the United Nations have been living in denial since 1967, when Israel repelled an attack by a host of Arab countries and captured the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
"The United Nations and all the complicit world leaders have been feeding into the deceit and the same lie," Christian said. "It is as if the United States won the War of Independence but the British still continued to say 'no you have not and we get to tell you exactly what to do.' No, the fact is we won the war and we will do exactly as we want.
"They want to force the delusion on everyone else that this war in 1967 never took place and they never lost the war, and the U.N. is helping them because they issue resolutions that the land is still occupied and not a definitive Jewish land. Trump said this is the reality, if you want to live in reality, good for you, but it's not good for us. And he exposed the complicity and feint heartedness of all of those European leaders and all those liberal American Jews filling up Twitter and Facebook, saying Jerusalem is for all. What does that mean, 'for all'? They are now exposed for trying to push a message of fake peace, so what happened yesterday is a reality check."
By pushing for a return to the pre-1967 borders, which Israel considers indefensible, Western leaders are essentially saying Israel has no right to exist.
"All the peace talks that have been ongoing for years have failed because it's fake and it doesn't' mean anything," Christian said.
What has changed is the leadership in key Arab states.
For 70 years the Arab- Israel conflict was an important tool that Arab leaders used to keep their hold on power. The Israeli bogie man was a convenient distraction for their people, but now that same conflict has become a liability.
"They need to get rid of that conflict, because pouring gas on that conflict is not defining their crown anymore but becoming an impediment to it," Christian said.
Gaffney also believes Trump's strategy is bold and worth the gamble. It's largely based on the advice of Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, who has been holding meetings on Capitol Hill that included input from members of the Israeli parliament.
"I think there's an opportunity here to try something different. It's a radical concept but it's been brilliantly annunciated by Daniel Pipes, who some months ago started a caucus on Capitol Hill and encouraged them to think in terms of a different paradigm for the region," Gaffney said.
That new paradigm is based on historical reality and facts, not the fictions being perpetrated by the European Union and the United Nations, Gaffney said.
"First among those facts is that Israel has actually enjoyed a victory over the Palestinians, that they defeated the Palestinians," Gaffney said. "And the unification of Jerusalem and establishment of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and the whole area is evidence of that victory and yet in the decades since the 1967 War we've indulged in this counter-factual but quite insidious notion that this didn't happen, and so now we will see what Israel can be induced to do to give it back, and so what Trump is doing is trying to acknowledge Israel's sovereignty over the land, although not as fast as I would like, but it is a re-characterization of the facts on the ground, and so it's not the peace process as we have known it so far but it's essentially an arrangement between the victor and the defeated that would actually reflect what's happened on the ground."
Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are seizing upon this changing dynamic among Arab leaders.
"It's a historical moment that has to be taken advantage of, they want to see this conflict go away, but they can't do it on their own, they want the U.S. to do it and they will act like they had no part in it," Dr. Christian said. "They want to build a strong relationship with Israel to benefit from its advancement and doing business with them."
And the benefits will not just be economic. They also are looking at military-strategic realities on the ground with regard to Iran.
"One of the benefits the Arabs need from Israel and the United States is to defeat their ultimate enemy which is Iran. And nobody can do that for them except Israel and the United States, mutual benefits and mutual goals," he said.