February 5, 2020 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1501

Qatar, Qatar-Backed International Union Of Muslim Scholars Blast Trump's Peace Plan: It Belongs In the Dustbin Of History, Must Be Opposed By Every Possible Means

February 5, 2020 | By H. Varulkar and Z. Harel*
Qatar | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1501

In its official responses to the Trump administration's peace plan, which was announced  on January 28, 2020 and has been dubbed "the Deal of the Century," Qatar welcomed the U.S. efforts to achieve peace and expressed willingness to assist in these efforts, but at the same time voiced reservations and implied criticism of the plan. A statement issued by Qatar's Foreign Ministry following the plan's announcement said that "Qatar welcomes the efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in the occupied Palestinian territories, and appreciates the efforts of the current U.S. administration to find solutions for the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict." The statement stressed, however, that a solution for the conflict requires the involvement of both the Palestinians and the Israelis; must include a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the return the refugees to their lands, and must be anchored in the relevant UN resolutions: "The success of any existing or future initiative for resolving this conflict, which has been ongoing for over seven decades, continues to depend on the involvement of the two major sides in this conflict in direct and serious negotiations based on the [relevant] UN resolutions... Qatar clarifies that peace will not be viable unless it [ensures] the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent, sovereign state on the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, and [guarantees] the return of the refugees to their lands..."[1]

 On the day following the plan's announcement, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani, spoke on the phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and clarified Qatar's support for Palestine and its willingness to act towards "the achievement of a just, comprehensive and viable solution to the Palestinian issue, based on the UN resolutions and the [2002] Arab Peace Initiative."[2] In an emergency meeting of the Arab foreign ministers held in Cairo on February 1 following the announcement of the peace plan, Qatari State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Sa'd Al-Muraikhi reiterated the position set out in the Foreign Ministry's statement.[3]

The Qatari press, both inside and outside Qatar, was conspicuous in its opposition to the Trump administration's peace plan and was harshly critical of it. The articles rejected the U.S. initiative out of hand, stating that it is blatantly biased in favor of Israel, and attacked Trump for proposing it. They also attacked what they called the feeble reaction of the Arab world to the plan, and even called to oppose the plan using every type of resistance. The writers assessed that it is destined to fail, and Qatar's state press published numerous articles quoting analysts, both Qatari and foreign, making predictions to this effect.[4]  Criticism of the plan, of Trump and of the Arab reaction was also expressed in cartoons that appeared in the Qatari press published inside and outside the country.[5]  

Also harshly critical of the Trump administration's initiative was the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which is based in Doha and is supported by the Qatari regime. The organization warned that the plan could have dire effects on the entire region. IUMS head Dr. Ahmed Al-Raissouni called it "the insolence of the century" and "a plan from hell," while IUMS secretary-general 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi stated that it is the religious duty of every Muslim to oppose the plan by every means and make sacrifices in order to thwart it. The IUMS website posted an excerpt from a book by the organization's founder, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, about the Muslims' obligation to wage jihad and sacrifice their souls in defense of Jerusalem. The excerpt also quoted the Hadith of the Stones and the Trees, about a future war between the Muslims and Jews which will be won by the Muslims.

This report reviews the reactions to the Trump administration's peace plan in the Qatari press, and the reactions of the IUMS to it.    

Qatari Press: The Plan Is Biased Toward Israel And Will Fail; It Must Be Opposed Using Every Kind Of Resistance

Qatari Editorials: No Force In The World Can Push Through A Plan Which Defies International Law

The editorial of the Qatari daily Al-Sharq on January 29, 2020, the day following the announcement of the deal, stated: "The details of the Deal of the Century, as they were [recently] announced, did not come as a complete surprise, since the positions of the current U.S. administration regarding the [peace] process have reflected a clear bias in favor of the Israeli entity, starting with the moving of the U.S. embassy to occupied Jerusalem, the support for the expansion of the settlements at the expense of Palestinian lands, the recognition of [Israel's sovereignty over] the Golan and a series of [other] measures that illustrate a position so [pro-Israeli] that it caused people to wonder whether the proposed plan is American or Israeli. Nobody believes more than the Palestinian people in the importance of achieving peace as a strategic choice, [and nobody] yearns [more than them] for freedom and independence. But the Palestinians find it difficult to allow the elimination of their cause and a reiteration of the Balfour Declaration. No force in the world can enable this plan to succeed, considering the united Palestinian position, both popular and official, [a position] which is backed by international legitimacy and by Security Council and [other] UN resolutions, and enjoys broad popular and official support in the Arab and Muslim world and in the world at large. The force of justice, and the righteousness of the Palestinian cause, are stronger than any deal that does not guarantee the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people."[6]      

The February 1, 2020, editorial in Qatar's Al-Raya daily stated: "…The Deal of the Century is a message of defiance against international law, the UN resolutions and the entire world. It reflects that a mindset of control, force and arrogance has taken precedence over the mindset of justice and legitimacy, and does not include a single component of a realistic peace plan. Everyone must understand that peace can only be achieved via negotiations anchored in international law, not through the imposition of a one-sided formula that is totally unacceptable to the Palestinian people…"[7]

Qatari Columnist: The Deal Of The Century Will Not Go Through; The Arabs Will Spit On It

On a January 30, 2020 column in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq headlined "A Deal To Spit On," Ibtisam Aal Sa'd wrote: "Down with the Deal of the Century, down with it! It seems that U.S. President Donald Trump is determined to make an indelible mark before leaving the White House... Let me speak of the mark he is carving into the brow of the Arabs, while they fail to notice that this mark is searing the Arab flesh – flesh that is meant to be too free, precious and strong to be eaten by hyenas, who usually feed on carrion. Trump's hand must be driven away from this flesh, the hand that is now harming the place that is sacred to us Muslims and Arabs and the cause that the Arabs pass down from generation to generation [i.e. the Palestinian cause], since it is their most important cause...

"The Arabs must now raise their voices and clearly state their position regarding the so-called Deal of the Century, which Trump revealed yesterday. Some Arab [leaders] concealed their positions from their people, denying that they knew about the deal or accepted it. But the American president was honest enough to expose them by thanking them for their presence and for celebrating the imminent declaration of the [new] State of Israel, a state that not only swallows up most of the Palestinian territories, but transforms some Jordanian territory, which Trump has not spared, into its own real estate...

"Oh Arabs, believe it or not, you will certainly not be too happy if you wake up one day and find yourselves...  facing a new state of Israel that will not be content with the borders delineated by Trump but will expand until it reaches your own countries, lands and seats [of government]. What will you do then?! How can you let Palestine head in this dangerous direction without feeling any quiver [of emotion] in your hearts? Your hearts should identify with [Jerusalem], the Muslims' first direction of prayer and the second holiest [place according to Islam]. The condition of [the Palestinian cause, which is] the Muslims' and Arabs' foremost cause, should affect your emotions. Perhaps your feeling hearts will [then] instruct your brains to find a solution and a way out of this disaster that has brought Trump to eliminate the two-state solution, to arrogantly override all the international and humanitarian laws and to fully recognize the Greater State of Israel, while throwing the Palestinians a few crumbs and saying: this is what you can have as your state...   

"The deal will not go through, and the rights of the Palestinians will [eventually] be gained, even if this takes a long time. Even if some Arabs have betrayed [the cause], it does not mean that the Arabs are [all] traitors. For they will spit on this deal and gag on it. Just as all the previous American attempts to eliminate the Palestinian rights failed, Trump's [present] attempts will fail as well. Trump boasts of his ability to do many things, but he does not realize that Allah's promise will [eventually] be fulfilled, even if it takes a long time, and then there will be no deal but only spittle!..."[8] 

Article In Al-Watan Daily: The Cursed And Toxic Deal Of The Century Must Be Opposed Using Every Possible Form Of Resistance

In his January 30, 2020 column in the Qatari Al-Watan daily, headlined "In Response to the Toxic Deal," Palestinian researcher 'Ali Badwan wrote: "Now that some details of this toxic Trump-Netanyahu plan have been officially announced, the moves to eliminate the national Palestinian cause have become more obvious and overt. For the Deal of the Century eliminates the two-state solution and retroactively cancels every international resolution on the Palestinian issue taken from [the time of] the Nakba until today. This is an attempt to impose the American solution [to the conflict], far from the authority of the UN and without allowing the international community's institutions or the influential countries of the world to play any role... The toxic and cursed Deal of the Century was presented today, while Trump's impeachment trial [is taking place] in the Senate... This timing is difficult to ignore...

"The response to this plan should be to turn the tables on the occupation, as happened in the first and biggest intifada. This will be achieved by intensifying the struggle against the occupation, carrying out every possible form of resistance, uniting all the resistance frameworks and mobilizing to quickly end the internal [Palestinian] schism."[9]  

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: The Deal Of The Century Is Political, Diplomatic And Security Foolishness And Is Destined To Fail Miserably

The January 29, 2020 editorial of Qatar's Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily stated: "Since entering the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump has never stopped lavishing gifts on his buddy, the prime minister of the Israeli occupation state, Binyamin Netanyahu. It started with the unjust hobbling of the diplomatic institutions subordinate to the PLO [i.e. the closure of the PLO mission in Washington], and continued with an attempt to harm the Palestinian people by reducing the U.S. aid to UNRWA, moving the U.S. embassy to occupied Jerusalem, recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan and legitimizing the Israeli settlements in the West Bank... Yesterday Trump gave Netanyahu his newest gift, and the one he considers most generous, when he announced the details of what he calls the Deal of the Century, which offers a "historic" solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it was presented to him by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, his ambassador in occupied Jerusalem, David Friedman, and his envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt...

"What is certain is that the deal will generate more pipedreams [in the minds of] Trump and his team. [However, it] is destined to become a footnote in the annals of this complex struggle, [whose solution] cannot be reduced to a handful of measures such as bribing the Palestinians with a $50 billion investment fund, financed by their 'brothers' – the American Arabs and the [Arab] regimes that are normalizing [their relations with Israel]... [The proponents of this plan] ignore the fact that such it is destined to fail miserably, for... no Palestinian element, no matter how negligent or submissive, will accept it, and because it will [also] meet with almost complete rejection from the international community. After all, who can guarantee that any Democratic president who comes after [Trump]  will sign off on this political, diplomatic and security foolishness...?"[10] 

Qatar-Backed International Union Of Muslim Scholars: The Deal Of The Century Must Be Opposed By Every Possible Means

As stated, harsh criticism of the Trump plan was also voiced by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which was established in 2004 by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi and is supported by the Qatari regime. Sheikh Al-Qaradawi and the IUMS are known for their hostility towards Israel, the U.S. and the West, and have for years been spreading a discourse of hate, incitement and encouragement of jihad and martyrdom. In the past Al-Qaradawi even sanctioned suicide attacks in Israel and supported terror against the U.S. forces in Iraq. [11]

IUMS: The Deal Belongs In The Dustbin Of History

Following the announcement of the plan, the IUMS issued a statement signed by its secretary-general, ‘Ali Al-Qaradaghi, and its head, Ahmed Al-Raissouni, which read: "The International Union [of Muslim Scholars] firmly condemns the announcement of the Deal of the Century, stressing that it is destined for the dustbin of history and demanding that the Arab countries oppose these decisions. It calls on all clerics and religious institutions to do their duty and fulfill their responsibility toward their faith, their nation and their interests... All freedom lovers in the world are called upon to oppose this war of extermination by every possible means.

"The Union, [which] closely follows global events, [including] shows of strength and the exploitation [of strength], was surprised, like everyone else, by Trump's announcement of [this] plan. He describes it as a plan for peace in the Middle East, [but in reality it is] meant to completely eliminate the Palestinian cause, recognize Israel as a Jewish state within the new borders [it sets out], take Jerusalem off the [agenda for negotiations], cancel the refugees' right of return, and continue the settlement [activity]. Unfortunately, this is happening in front of the whole world, especially the Arab and Muslim world, but has not, so far, met with an appropriate response. In light of this unfortunate situation and these aggressive decisions, the Union firmly condemns the announcement of the Deal of the Century and the measures it entails, and warns about the disastrous effects [it could have] on the entire region... [The Union] calls upon the Arab and Muslim states to act immediately to end this shameful silence in the face of these decisions that will bring only destruction and humiliation upon everyone... [It also] calls on the Palestinians to unite against the plots whose objective is to systematically eliminate the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem."[12] 

IUMS Head Ahmed Al-Raissouni: This Is Not "The Deal Of The Century" But "The Insolence Of The Century"

In an article on the IUMS website titled "A Deal or Insolence?", the organization's head, Ahmed  Al-Raissouni attacked the American plan, stating that it is not the "deal (safqa in Arabic) of the century," but rather the "insolence (safaqa) of the century" and "a plan from hell":

"I must say that I do not see or find any deal [here]. All I see is insolence. A deal, according to the accepted political and commercial [meaning of the term], is an agreement and alliance between two sides based on mutual interests and commitments... But what Donald Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu and their whole gang have declared and celebrated is a unilateral action. As for the supposed other side – the Palestinians and Arabs –  none of them have implied in any way that they accept or join this illegitimate plan. This alone divests this pretend deal of any validity. Moreover, all the Palestinian organizations, factions, and officials declare their rejection [of the deal], curse it and oppose it, as do all the Arabs and Muslims, with the exception of three mice from the Arab region [i.e. the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman in Washington], who were reportedly present [at the announcement of the deal]!

"So there is no deal. There is nothing but insolence: the insolence of the century... Is there greater insolence, boasting or impertinence than [an incident in which] an arrogant leader [Trump] whose heart is full of resentment and hatred toward Islam and the Muslims and whose head is full of the principles of the Torah and Talmud prepares, along with his Zionist brothers, a plan from hell whose goal is to generate [even] more oppression, aggression and usurpation, which is then celebrated and described as a deal, and even as the deal of the century[?!]"[13]  

IUMS Secretary-General 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi: The Muslim Nation Should Sacrifice For The Palestinian Cause By Every Means; This Is A Religious Duty

In a speech he delivered at a February 1, 2020 rally in support of the Palestinians in Istanbul, which was attended by representatives of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party, IUMS Secretary-General 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi, speaking "on behalf of all Muslim clerics," called on the free world and all people of conscience worldwide to join the resistance front against the "false deal of the century." Stressing that "this deal is destined for the dustbin of history," he added that "1.7 billion Muslims will not relinquish Jerusalem," which is not only Arab land but Arab-Islamic-Palestinian land and part of the Muslim faith. He called on the Muslim nation to "come out against this deal and sacrifice for this cause, by every means, for this is a religious commandment and failing to do so is a blatant betrayal of the [Muslim] faith and [its] beliefs, and of the homeland." He also urged the Palestinians of all movements and parties, to unite and oppose the deal "with every type of resistance", and to "liberate Jerusalem, for this is a shari'a and international duty."[14]

IUMS Website Quotes The Organization's  Founder, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi: It Is Incumbent On All Muslims To Defend Jerusalem, Sacrifice Themselves For It And Wage Jihad For Its Sake

On January 30, 2020, two days after the Trump plan was announced, the IUMS website posted on its main page an excerpt from the book Jerusalem – The Concern of Every Muslim, by the organization's founder Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, which states that defending Jerusalem is a religious duty and that Allah instructed Muhammad to wage jihad in the city's defense. The excerpt also alludes to the well-known Prophetic hadith according to which, before Judgment Day, the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will seek shelter behind stones and trees, but the stones and trees will cry out and reveal them, saying, "O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!"

The excerpt from Al-Qaradawi's book states: "Jerusalem has an elevated religious status in the Muslim faith – this is agreed upon by all Muslims of all [ethnic] groups, denominations and worldviews, for this is a consensus among the entire [Muslim] nation. It therefore comes as no surprise that all Muslims uphold their obligation to defend Jerusalem, protect it zealously... sacrifice themselves and all that is dear to them [for its sake] and respond to any aggression against it... Allah told the Prophet Muhammad that the enemies would conquer this holy land or threaten it with invasion or occupation. Therefore, [Muhammad] urged his nation to prepare for war [in that land] and to wage jihad there to keep it from falling into the hands of the enemies, or to liberate it if it was destined to fall into their hands. The Prophet was also informed about the struggle that will take place between the Muslims and the Jews, which will ultimately end in a Muslim victory, and everything will be on the Muslims' side – even the rocks and the trees, which will speak to show [the Muslims where] their enemies, [the Jews, are hiding]."[15]

Qatari Political Cartoons Criticize The Deal Of The Century 

The Qatari press, both within and outside the country, published political cartoons harshly critical of the Deal of the Century. The cartoons depicted it as a malicious plan conceived by Trump and backed by certain Arab regimes for which the Palestinians will pay the price, and as an initiative that belongs in the dustbin or should be used as toilet paper, and will eventually be thwarted by the Palestinians. The following are some of these cartoons:

"The Deal of the Century" as a serpent in the guise of a dove (Al-Watan, Qatar, January 30, 2020)

Trump, author of "the Deal of the Century," is "the most dangerous virus" (Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, January 28, 2020)

"The Deal of the Century" as toilet paper (Al-Watan, Qatar, January 31, 2020)

The Arabs burying "the Deal of the Century" (Al-Watan, Qatar, February 3, 2020)

"The Deal of the Century" belongs in the dustbin, which is Trump himself (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, January 28, 2020)

Pro-Israel Arabs peddle Trump's plan from within a garbage container labeled "the Deal of the Century" (Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, February 1, 2020)

Israel devours Palestine and the Arabs pick up the tab (Al-Quds Al- Arabi, London, February 2, 2020)

The Arab world hides its head in the sand, ignoring the cry, "Save Al-Aqsa" and the sign pointing towards "Jerusalem" (Al-Arab, Qatar, January 28, 2020; February 2, 2002)

"The Insolence of the Century": Arab leaders bow to Trump while he executes "Palestine" (Al-Arabi Al-Jadid, London, January 31, 2020)

Palestinian child tears the map of "the Deal of the Century" with a key symbolizing the right of return (Al-Sharq, Qatar, January 30, 2020)

Palestinian fighter holds on to his gun and his key while "Trump's speech" goes in one ear and out the other (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, January 31, 2020)





* H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI; Z. Harel is a research fellow at MEMRI.


[1] Al-Watan (Qatar), January 29, 2020.

[2] Al-Sharq (Qatar), January 30, 2020.

[3] Al-Arab (Qatar), February 2, 2020.

[4] See e.g., Al-Sharq (Qatar), January 30 and February 2, 2020.

[5] For Qatari cartoons from 2018 criticizing the Deal of the Century, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1409, Qatar's Opposition To Trump's Forthcoming Middle East Peace Plan As Reflected In Qatari Cartoons, August 2, 2018.

[6]Al-Sharq (Qatar), January 29, 2020.

[7] Al-Raya (Qatar), Feb 1, 2020.

[8] Al-Sharq (Qatar), January 30, 2020.

[9] Al-Watan (Qatar), January 30, 2020.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), January 29, 2020.

[12], January 29, 2020.

[13], January 29, 2020.

[14], February 1, 2020.

[15], January 1, 2020.

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