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January 31, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8534

Russian Reactions To The 'Deal Of The Century'

January 31, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8534

Russian officials reacted cautiously to the sdelka vyeka – Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century", for an Israeli Palestinian peace. Russian experts agreed that the proposal was weighted in Israel's favor but were divided over whether it had a chance. Some argued that the Palestinians could never agree to the terms and could not be bought by Trump's billions and would continue their struggle. Other experts argued that changes in the Arab world, the Fatah-Hamas schism, and the fatigue of Palestinians with living in a failed state and in penury made the proposal realistic. The Palestinians they warned had historically turned down more favorable proposals only to find themselves in a worse position during the next period of negotiations.

A Guarded Reaction By Russian Officialdom

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said it was premature to draw any conclusions."We believe that it is necessary to enter into direct negotiations (with the Palestinians. - Ed.) and reach mutually acceptable compromises. We do not know the extent to which Washington's ideas are mutually acceptable to all parties to the conflict," Bogdanov explained.[1]

Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov also withheld comment: "We continue to analyze this information and study the plan that was prepared by the White House administration. Tomorrow there will also be a meeting with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and more information will be received, as they say, first-hand."[2]

Valentina Mativiyenko the Federation Council Speaker voiced mild criticismThe lack of Palestine involvement in preparing these plans is, of course, the wrong approach. Both parties should participate in the preparation of such documents, but this was not observed' however s "Matvienko hewed to the line that Moscow required time to study the program. What interested Matviyenko and Russia was expanding the participants to include Russia: ' The initiative is new, it requires careful study, the Russian Foreign Ministry is now conducting such an analysis. I agree with the Foreign Ministry that at this stage the international Quartet for Middle East settlement, the League of Arab States should actively participate in the consideration of this initiative." (Ria.ru, January 30, 2020)

The Russian daily Kommersant believed that Russia may be willing to back the initiative: "The president of Russia has a chance to play his recently beloved role of peacemaker and mediator, moreover, [he will be playing it] on the Palestinian-Israeli track, which Moscow has long given up as hopeless. Now, for the first time in a long time, Israel is ready to discuss this topic, albeit on its own terms. And, as spokesman for the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov said, Russia is ready to do everything possible to achieve a viable peace in the Middle East."[3]

In contrast, Nurlan Gasimov, who personally feels that the deal is too unfavorable to the Palestinians and even deprives them of access to fresh water, believes that Netanyahu will be unable to immediately enlist Putin's support. "Although both leaders have excellent relations, Putin will convey to the Israeli prime minister the idea that it is important to take into account the views of the Palestinians. Netanyahu will not succeed in gaining quick support for Moscow.[4]

If the Russian leadership was circumspect regarding the deal, Russian journalists and experts reacted freely. All agreed that the deal would not yield a peace settlement in the immediate future, but they were divided over whether the deal was an outrage or a step in the right direction that the Palestinians should consider.

The Offer Is Neo-Colonialism Which The Palestinians Should Reject Outright

Middle East expert Grigory Lukyanov, a senior lecturer at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' School of Oriental Studies branded the plan as neo-colonialism and predicted that it would backfire on Israel.

"This issue should not be proposed to the Palestinians and Israelis from the outside, but should be resolved in the process of negotiations with the direct participation of interested parties. In particular, the Palestinians themselves. But at the moment we are witnessing a second edition of colonialism, or more precisely, a repetition of the events during the first half of the 20th century, which led to the conflict between Arabs and Jews. Some external forces, then it was the League of Nations, Britain and France, and today it is the United States, who are exclusively pursuing their own domestic political goals, redrawing the map of the region as they need it. At the same time, they forgot to ask the local population about it. That is why… [the plan] cannot be effective. We need a consensus with local political forces."

Lukyanov rejected the arguments of those who expected the Palestinians to be realistic and renounce their quest for historical justice. "And what else should the Palestinian people cling to? For 70 years, the political elite of the Palestinians and the rest of the Palestinian people could rely solely on their historical rights. Indeed, before the announcement of the creation of the state of Israel, Palestinians lived there. There their homes and their shrines existed…History still plays a crucial role in legitimizing the power not only of the current Palestinian Authority, led by their oldest leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the parties that today make up the stronghold of the Palestine Liberation Organization, but history is also an integral part of the entire Palestinian people's memory. If history could be disregarded, then any conflict could be forgotten and thereby resolved. But even if you forget the conflict, this does not mean that it will be resolved in practice…"

Israel will ultimately pay the price for the stillborn proposal warned Lukyanov: "There are radicals on both sides of the conflict. They, of course, will declare themselves. Hamas will try to use the situation to maximize the consolidation of its public support. It is possible that they will organize a series of mass actions. Including actions similar to the march of millions that were undertaken last year. They do this every year on the eve of the 'day of anger," May 15th. As for the terrorist acts ... it is unlikely that Hamas will stand behind them. But other movements may resort to such activities against the State of Israel. Trump's actions not only do not help his main ally in the region, but, on the contrary, can lead to the opposite result. Namely to casualties." [5]


Grigory Lukyanov (Source: Svpressa.ru)

Irina Zvyagelskaya, like Lukyanov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies believes that the plan is heavily tilted towards Israel: "Firstly, it should be noted that Trump recognized united Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Secondly, it effectively supports the annexation, that is, the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and to all the settlements there. Meanwhile, it states that the Palestinians will have their own capital in East Jerusalem, but it is outside the city limits. There are Arab villages, which can very conditionally be considered part of Jerusalem. In terms of status and symbolism, this, of course, is not a capital in East Jerusalem.[6]

Russian Muslim Outlet: Plan Designed 'Exclusively For Idiots'

The Russian Muslim outlet Voice of Islam strongly denounced "Trump and Netanyahu's Pathetic Deal":

"It can hardly be said conclusively that the 'deal of the century', which was published yesterday, was composed by complete idiots. But you can definitely say that not only its content, but also its very name are designed exclusively for idiots.

"After all, any person who has studied at least the basics of jurisprudence at even the high school grade level knows that a deal, by definition, involves an agreement between two or more parties - those for whom it is designed.

"This applies to the declarations that the "deal of the century" is based on the "two state solution," according to which both Jews and Palestinians must ultimately acquire two sovereign states. In reality, the Trump-Netanyahu plan, as it is more appropriate to call this pseudo-deal, is a denial of the 'two state solution,' as it is understood by the international community…"

The terms of the deal would force the Palestinian Authority to assume the role of base collaborators and was therefore delusional. "Additionally, its [Palestine'] authorities will have to completely disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, refuse to support families of heroes of the liberation struggle, refuse to demand the return of Palestinian refugees and eliminate illegal Jewish settlements and recognize the full sovereignty of Israel over Jerusalem.[7]

Trump's Plan, Although Doomed To Failure Represents A Fresh Realistic Approach

Other Russian writers, while expressing pessimism about the plan's immediate prospects, felt that it reflected the reality of a changing Middle East.

Journalist Dmitry Bavirin termed the plan "truly ambitious" and expressed admiration for Trump's diplomatic style:

"And he doesn't even try to disguise himself as a 'disinterested party' - there is no need. Trump is here to push and sell, not to outwit.

"Trump strongly advises the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to accept it. If not, it will be worse off.

"He did not write or say anything about 'it will be worse', but, most likely, it will really be worse. With the Palestinian Arabs, this is always the case: by refusing the next offer, they invariably worsen their positions and come to the next round of consultations with an even weaker hand…

"Most of the territorial acquisitions of Israel since then [1948] are the result of wars won, where Israel was not the aggressor. And each time, after concluding a temporary peace, the Palestinian Arabs could claim less than before.

"Even the population of annexed East Jerusalem, that for quite some time refused to take Israeli citizenship, is now trying to integrate into the Jewish state and is increasingly telling sociologists that it would prefer to live under the rule of Israel rather than under the PNA...

Bavirin while noting these realities, believed that Hamas posed an insurmountable problem in the current stage: "The deal itself is mapped out on 80 pages, and it unnecessary to read them all in order to bury the project in advance. It is enough that it implies the disarmament of the Hamas group, which controls the Gaza Strip.

"If it were possible to disarm Hamas in principle, it would have been done long ago - those desirous of doing so, can be located not only in Israel and the USA, but also in the Arab world, and above all in the PNA. The struggle of these two Palestinian political forces at one time bore the character of a war of annihilation.

"Hamas will not be disarmed - for it and its leaders this represents genuine suicide. If they wanted this… they would not have been Hamas members, whose program as a whole boils down to 'throwing into the sea' not only Israel, but also the PNA.

"Perhaps the United States is counting on the fact that ordinary Palestinian Arabs will decide for themselves that roads, bridges, investments and their own state are much better than want, blockade and …war, after which they will replace their political representatives.

"Perhaps someday this will really happen, but not this time and not even in the next political generation. And when it does, the negotiating positions of the Palestinians will have worsened still further.[8]


Dmitry Bavirin (Source: Kasparov.ru)

Mikhail Chernov head of the Russia-Eurasia project believes that since the Palestinian leadership will not reduce their demands, agree to outside control of their purse strings and make do with something less than a state, the deal will fail. Then there is the problem of Gaza. The only way is for the Arab world to impose a solution:

"Only conflict, pressure from the entire Arab world and a new leadership can make the Palestinians do this, for example, in the person of the former head of the Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Mohammed Dahlan, who could become a kind of 'Palestinian Kadyrov'[9] for the region.

As we have already written above, the Palestinian authorities will not 'fulfill the deal' (more precisely, the 'terms').

So, the 'state-minus', most likely, will not arrive. Jews will continue to develop their land, and for the Palestinians it will be much more productive instead to fight for their civil rights within Israel, instead of a 'state-minus'".[10]


Mikhail Chernov (Source: Orientalism.ru)

Journalist and political scientist George Bovt believes the deal reflects the changing picture:

"The Trump - Kushner Plan takes into account the real demographic picture. Palestinians have long been emigrating from the West Bank or are trying to integrate into Israel itself. Under the influence of these processes, after a while a significant part of the so far Palestinian enclaves may completely dissolve in Israeli lands, only a more homogeneous Gaza Strip will remain. Even in occupied East Jerusalem, sentiment is growing in favor of integration into the Israeli state, rather than into the Palestinian Authority."[11]

Middle East expert Dmitry Frolovsky believes that the Trump plan shows how the Middle East has changed:

"Another thing is obvious: if such initiatives had appeared at least ten years ago, they could very well have provoked a new intifada. Now we can expect a different process of events.

"Despite the very harsh statements of Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas leaders and individual attacks on Israeli territory, the initiative in Palestine was met with mixed feelings. Palestinians are increasingly disappointed in their unchallenged leader, the nearly 85-year-old Abbas. During his reign, the confrontation between the Fatah movements, led by Abbas, and Hamas intensified and turned into a full-fledged military conflict; the ruling administration and Abbas personally were repeatedly accused of corruption and incompetence, and the socio-economic situation continued to deteriorate. Abbas's possible participation in the election of the head of the autonomy scheduled for September introduced confusion into the leadership of Fatah, where there are both supporters and opponents of the current leader. Obviously, many Palestinians are not eager to live in a failed state."

"The Iranian threat has forced the Sunni Arab states to recalibrate their positions: "Iran's growing influence in the Levant countries and its creation of the so-called axis of resistance, including bases in Iraq and Syria, concern not only Israel, but also Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Violent changes in the population makeup in favor of Shiites in Syria and Iraq, open confrontation with Saudi forces in Yemen, the reinforcement of the Hezbollah movement create a situation where the Sunni regimes need to reassess their own foreign policy. And paradoxically, they are pushed in the same direction by the unpredictability of the Trump administration…

"The Deal of the Century is unlikely to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but the absence of its unanimous condemnation by key countries in the Middle East means that the Palestinian issue is becoming less politically significant, although it remains symbolic for the Muslim world."[12]


Dmitry Frolovsky (Source: Regnum.ru)

Strokan: Trump's Proposal Is Indecent

Kommersant's Sergei Strokan in his column titled "The Indecent Proposal of Donald Trump" [13] takes note of Trump's new approach but claims that it eerily recalls the 1993 Hollywood film Indecent Proposal and will fail for similar reasons.

"Donald Trump offers a completely different way to resolve the conflict. The logic is this: if negotiations are pointless, then why spend time and effort on long and tedious negotiations on the problems of refugees, Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, the status of Jerusalem, on which more than one generation of negotiators has broken their teeth. Why renew the dialogue of the deaf?

"Businessman Donald Trump intends to simply "buy" the Middle East world. The idea is to attract multibillion-dollar investments in Palestine, which will transform it from a formation hostile to Israel into a territory of "peace and prosperity." After which, having tasted a new life, the Palestinians will not want to return to their former isolation.

"In general, the President of the United States seems to sincerely believe that Palestinians can be purchased and it is only a question of price. In this sense, Donald Trump's plan recalls the plot of the acclaimed American film of the 1990s 'Indecent proposal', in which a billionaire offers a shocking deal to a married couple in dire need of money: a beloved wife must spend a night with him for a million dollars. The anger of the married couple yields to the realization that a million is an extraordinary amount for the family, which will allow it to close all the problems in one fell swoop, which otherwise would not be accomplished in a lifetime. And so, the indecent proposal must be agreed to. However, after a night of love and receiving the desired million, the couple breaks up: the money did not bring it happiness. And now Palestine will have to pass its test, many of whose inhabitants may not have watched the film, the lead role in which was played by the red-haired Oscar winner Robert Redford, who in a subtle way is reminiscent of Donald Trump."


Indecent Proposal jacket (Source: Imdb.com)

 

 

[1] Ria.ru, January 30, 2020.

[2] Rambler.ru, January 29, 2020.

[3] Kommersant, January 30, 2020.

[4] Ria.ru, January 30, 2020.

[5] Fotanka.ru, January 29, 2020.

[6] Mk.ru, January 29,2020

[7] Golosislama.com, January 29, 2020

[8] Vz.ru, January 29, 2020.

[9] Ramzan Kadyrov is the head of the Chechen Republic. A former member of the Chechen independence movement, he switched sides to become Russia's satrap and the scourge of independence fighters.

[10] Realtribune.ru, January 30, 2020

[11] Bfm.ru, January 30, 2020.

[12] Rbc.ru, January 20, 2020.

[13] Kommersant.ru, January 30, 2020.

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