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June 20, 2019 No.
8131

Senior Jordanian Journalist: Conflict With Israel Is Irresolvable; 'Deal Of Century' Will Fail Because Arab Peoples Do Not Support It

In his April 15, 2019 column in Jordan's Al-Ghad daily, titled "The Illusions of Peace with Israel," senior Jordanian journalist Fahd Al-Khitan wrote that the complicated conflict with Israel cannot be resolved even as part of a global deal. He explained that, despite the U.S. administrations' considerable efforts to advance its "Deal of the Century," and despite the peace agreements Israel has signed with Jordan and Egypt and its rapprochement with other Arab governments, the Arab peoples themselves hate Israel, regard it as an illegitimate alien corn in the region and oppose any plan for peace with it. Al-Khitan therefore assessed that the present generation will not see a final settlement of the conflict with Israel, adding that those who believe otherwise, chief of them U.S. President Donald Trump, are deluding themselves.

The following are excerpts from his column:[1]


Fahd Al-Khitan (source: alwakaai.com)

"The Trump administration may at any moment announce its peace deal, or 'Deal of the Century,' as [Trump] calls it, which sets out a solution to the conflict in minute detail. [This administration] has power and clout that enable it to pressure the sides in order to push the deal through. [However,] previous American administrations also pressured the sides in various ways, yet they never managed to realize their plans. More importantly, they did not manage to garner popular support for their plans.

"Israel can normalize relations with Arab and Muslim countries, openly or in secret, and it is [indeed] doing so and making achievements [in this area]. But past experience shows that normalization with governments is no guarantee of peace between peoples, in the absence of a genuine historic basis for a just peace. The PLO recognized Israel and made a historic agreement with it, which established a Palestinian authority on the ground – yet peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is still a distant dream. Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, yet the peoples of those two countries are Israel's biggest haters, as Western opinion polls show.

"The Arab-Israeli conflict is complex and historical, but the Arab perception of it is easy to understand. The overwhelming majority of Arab peoples regard Israel as an illegitimate entity that has usurped the land of others and expelled a people from its soil. In their eyes, Israel is an alien corn in the midst of a region [whose peoples] have history, values, culture and a social structure in common – and there is no way to reconcile with this entity on its own terms. The minimum the Arabs can accept is a just division of the land of Palestine. Even this solution, with all its benefits it holds for the Palestinians, will be unacceptable to a large part of the Arab public, and its implementation will not much change the hatred felt towards Israel. As I said, the issue is easy to understand, but in practice it is very complicated. I believe that the present generation will definitely not witness a final settlement of the conflict with Israel, as part of which Israel will become a natural and accepted part of the Arab region.

"The conflict is largely grounded in the issue of identity. All attempts to resolve conflicts that involve a conflict of identities without clearly and justly recognizing the victims' identity and rights have failed. Does anyone really imagine, for example, that the Palestinian Authority or the Arab governments will relinquish the principle of the Palestinian refugees' right of return, namely [agree] to issue a death sentence to this right?  There are millions of Palestinians who, even if they choose to live outside Palestine of their own free will, have not in any way relinquished their Palestinian identity. The descendants of [Palestinian] immigrants around the world, [even if] they were born into new societies and have become fully integrated in them, will never give up their original identity, and they revive it in their lives, each and every day. This conflict cannot be resolved even as part of a global deal. Anyone who thinks differently is deluded, even if he is president of the most powerful country in the world." 

 

[1] Al-Ghad (Jordan), April 15, 2019.