The Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs organized on February 11, 2020, a symposium on “The Trump peace plan”, within the framework of the council’s interest in discussing the repercussions that followed the announcement of the deal of the century, as well as the future of the deal, its opportunities, and how to deal with it. The Palestinian Ambassador to Cairo Mr. Diab Al-Louh, in addition to a number of the members of the embassy in Cairo participated in the work of the conference, with the participation of the Chairman of the council, Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran; its director Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad; and a number of experts, academics and former ambassadors.
The themes of the symposium, which was moderated by Ambassador Ihab Wahba, Coordinator of the Standing Committee of the Council on Arab Affairs, included the following:
1- Key elements of the U.S. peace plan – Ambassador Dr. Mohamed Anis Salem (Coordinator of the Standing Committee of the Council on the United Nations and International Organizations); where it has been emphasized that the main feature of the plan is that a detailed map has never been put on the ground, and what is presented is a conceptual map, and the final map will be presented after communication has been made to reach a consensus on this matter. The conceptual map includes a contemporary Palestinian state inside Israel, to which two sites will be added on the Egyptian border. Israel shall keep its settlements inside the Palestinian territories, in addition to keeping the Jordan Valley area as well. Whereas Palestine maintains an outlet to the Dead Sea as a tourist spot, while the Golan and Jerusalem will be parts of the State of Israel. The plan also included the disarmament of the militias therein, and the importance of achieving communication between the Palestinian north and south through bridges and roads passing through Israel, reaching up to the West Bank and Gaza, where the latter will enjoy the existence of an industrial island and a port that Israel shall control as well as controlling the exit and entry of goods into that port, while the Palestinian state shall have the right to manage and supervise the ports of Haifa, Ashdod and Aqaba in accordance with Israeli rules. The declaration stressed the Israeli demands and the necessity to end all forms of boycott and commitment to normalization, and gave Israel the right to control Palestinian airspace. The capital will also be outside the administration for a transitional period until it is transferred to the Israeli administration, with a basket of incentives given to the Palestinian side; such as a free trade agreement with the United States, a plan to regulate the governance of the Palestinian state to double the Palestinian national income, create one million new jobs, achieve a reduction in unemployment rates to about 10%, and reduce government spending rates over the next ten years. The plan also includes regional normalization, and there are some points that can be negotiated between the two parties. The plan stipulates that Gaza remain under the administration of the Palestinian Authority, while Israeli control will remain over territorial waters, and the reactivation of the airport will be limited to domestic flights. The triangle, which includes 10 villages and inhabited by the 1948 Arabs, has been transferred to the Palestinian state. As for Palestinians residing in Jerusalem, they have three alternatives to choose from, namely: obtaining Israeli citizenship, moving to the new Palestinian state, or to be granted permanent residency in Israel (or a special status) which fulfills the decoupling of Palestinian citizens relationship from Jerusalem. Finally, security standards that are governed by Israel have been established, controlling the nascent Palestinian state in order to ensure peace. On the other hand, there are committees concerned with implementing the terms of the deal.
2- Ambassador Diab al-Louh, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Egypt, spoke about the Palestinian stance towards the deal, emphasizing that the Palestinian stance towards the deal is an integral part of the Egyptian stance, by which it is armed, and to which it adheres, and Palestine; government, leaders and people; appreciates the Egyptian position for the unlimited support it has provided and is still providing to the Palestinian cause. He explained that the U.S. deal announced by Trump is a deal that has not been consulted about with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met Trump four times. Following the announcement of the deal, President Abu Mazen directed towards requesting the League’s Secretariat to call for an urgent ministerial meeting, and communication was made to hold that meeting with the aim of launching a campaign for political, diplomatic and legal action at the international level based on the Egyptian position, which has coincided with a visit by President Abbas to Egypt, where a statement was issued by the presidential summit confirming the Egyptian constants with respect to the Palestinian cause and constituted a basic rule with the Egyptian President’s statement that Egypt will accept what the Palestinians accept and reject what they reject. The Arab rejection of the draft plan was noted, as expressed in a statement at the ministerial summit that has been fully adopted without introducing any amendments to the draft Palestinian statement approved by the Palestinian leadership.
3- Within the framework of evaluating Israel’s position on the deal, Ambassador Hazem Khairat (member of the Council) addressed the positions of the Israeli parties and the various supporting forces. The deal also reflects Netanyahu’s peace plan, hoping that he will obtain support for his position in light of the circumstances, prosecutions and accusations he is passing through, calling for the exploitation of tensions within the Israeli society and not being limited to the opposing responses to the deal. However, in contradiction to the previous positions, the position of the Israeli centrists, which declared through Yusef Pele’s words, its rejection of the deal, as it distorts the image of Israel and only aims at supporting Netanyahu in the election battle, especially as it relinquishes Israel’s interests, particularly as they fear that the deal will be faced with European rejection in light of the deteriorating human rights in Israel as well as the growing feelings of anti-Semitism in light of the special violations that are being committed, especially as Israel can no longer gain any sympathy.
Warning, in the same context, of what the 1948 Arabs would be facing in that deal which in some sort would result in demographically isolating them, as it allocates a separate area for them that would be under Palestinian sovereignty so that the settlements would include only the Israeli population. Thus, the deal gets rid of the 1948 Arabs, who represent an important and essential point for preserving the Arab-Palestinian identity inside Israel, and despite being forced to hold the Israeli identity cards, their patriotism and affection for their country still exists, and thus the deal aims at getting rid of them for being considered as a time bomb inside Israel.
4- Assessing the Arab position on the deal, Ambassador Dr. Mohamed Badruddin Zayed (member of the Council) emphasized the necessity of adhering to the three main Arab positions maintaining the Arab stance and steadfast support for the Palestinian cause, namely, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, because the popular domestic foundations within those countries prevent any normalization with Israel. But there are risks related to lacking confidence in the continuity of those positions, except for the Egyptian position, which cannot refrain from remaining in Palestinian confidence; while the Arab cohesion is unreliable.
5- Addressing the international position on the deal, Ambassador Sayed Abu Zeid (member of the Board of Directors) noted that the initiative was born dead and the reason for this is due to its lack of an important element, which is the element of negotiation between the two parties, as there is a party rejecting that deal and another seeking to impose it by force, and therefore this deal has no legal existence. Also, it is not possible for the Palestinians to negotiate that deal, as it will not address any of the Palestinian demands.
6- About the opportunities for implementing the peace plan and how to face it, Major General Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Duwairi, an expert in Israeli affairs, gave that speech; but as for how to move, three factors were recognized: Israel will continue proceeding with the annexation, the United States will continue proceeding with the proposal and following up on the implementation, and the Arab countries range in their position from trying to avoid clashing with the United States on the one hand, to not refraining from Palestinian constants on the other.
In this context, there is a traditional move currently underway. After an unequivocal Arab rejection of the deal, action at the level of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly began. Also, his speech at the Security Council is a historic one, representing a strong response from the Security Council. Despite the possibility of rejecting the draft resolution, this action will convey a message of non-acceptance of the current reality, even though it does not change the facts on the ground.
As for the unconventional action, it would include three scenarios that may be summed up as follows: re-launching an Arab peace initiative, once again emphasizing that it represents the only Arab vision on settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, such national Arab position would become non-negotiable, and there must be tools available to market the plan proposed 18 years ago.