Thursday, November 23, 2017

سيناريوهات- المسارات المحتملة لأزمات الشرق الأوسط


ما وراء الخبر-نتائج اجتماع ممثلي الفصائل الفلسطينية بالقاهرة




Sadat to Salman: Israel at the expense of Palestine

By Marwan Bishara


Israel and Saudi Arabia have been the hot subject of speculation and gossip in recent weeks. Not a day goes by without us hearing about their latest rendezvous, their winks and whims, their flirtations and fantasies.
I'm not sure Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did indeed make a secret trip to Tel Aviv, but I did see former Saudi and Israeli intelligence chiefs share a stage at a New York synagogue last month.
The hilarity - or rather, the calamity - of the scene transcended the attempt at normality from former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki Al Faisal, with his English gentleman's red socks, as he disagreed on stage with former Mossad director Efraim Halevy, as the latter argued in favour of maintaining the Iran nuclear deal. When an Israeli spymaster sounds like a moderate in comparison to his Saudi counterpart regarding a "fellow Muslim nation", it's time to be alarmed.
At any rate, since Prince Turki's "flirtation" with another former Israeli spy and ex-foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, in Davos in January, informal meetings and overtures between the Israelis and the Saudis seem to have multiplied. Bahrain and the UAE have also joined in. Their objective is to prepare the public for the shock of normalisation, to normalise the idea of future normalisation with Israel.
Prince Turki Al Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief, with Efraim Halevy, a former Israeli Mossad director with others at the Temple Emanu-El Strieicker Center in New York City on October 22, 2017 [James Reinl/Al Jazeera]

Love and hate

The attraction between the Wahabi and Zionist leaders may be neither halal nor kosher, but it's nonetheless strong and getting stronger. And it's nothing new.
Their rapprochement is born out of necessity and driven, primarily, by mutual aversion rather than mutual attraction: aversion to the Iranian regime and fear of its expanding influence in the region. As those feelings grow, so does their relationship, in accordance with the realist proverb: my enemy's enemy is my friend.
Indeed, US President Donald Trump noticed with great satisfaction the "really good feeling towards Israel" in Saudi Arabia after his May visit to both countries. Since then he's been godfathering a trilateral arrangement with Israel and Saudi Arabia to confront Iran's "fanatical regime"and its regional aggression.
The Trump administration will fail to produce a credible and comprehensive peace strategy.

In an interview with the Saudi publication Elaph earlier this month - yet another sign of normalisation - Israel's military chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, explained how Iran threatens both Saudi Arabia and Israel through not one but two parallel (Shia) crescents of influence that cross the region. To the north, one goes through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and to the Mediterranean Sea; and to the south, a second goes through the Gulf region, Yemen and to the banks of the Red Sea.
Marriages of convenience have been built on much less. 

Gains and losses

Judging from their public declarations, Israelis are terribly impatient. They want to take the Saudi relationship to a whole new level; they want to "go steady" and they want to come out. And they want it yesterday. Their generation-old (wet) dream of public strategic engagement with moderate Sunni Arab regimes is finally coming true.
Israel has everything to gain and, if it can help it, nothing to lose, from the normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. It could see its relations improve dramatically with many of the other 55 Muslim-majority countries, just as it saw a huge spike in its diplomatic and economic relations around the world after the 1993 Oslo Accords, including with the likes of Jordan and Qatar. Doha shut down Israel's trade office in the Gulf country in 2009 after the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
An Israeli activist holds a placard reading, "Don't refuse peace", during a rally by the Peace Now group, in support of the Saudi Peace Initiative in Jerusalem on March 28, 2007.[Kevin Frayer/AP]
For Israel, shared strategic interests and shared goals with Saudi Arabia should suffice to normalise their relations and strengthen their union. But as Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz's latest revelations about Israel's long "sharing of intelligence" have shown, it's Riyadh, not Tel Aviv, that insists on secrecy out of a sense of shame.
When Saudi Arabia committed to a peace initiative that became an Arab League initiative in 2002, it expressed willingness to normalise relations with Israel but only after Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian and Arab territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
For Riyadh, quick and unconditional normalisation with its historical nemesis has long been a risky proposition for the kingdom and its regional standing. Even its more enthusiastic neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, has been, in the words of one Israeli expert, a silent partner
Not any more.

New leadership, new policy

It was quite shocking to see the above-mentioned Saudi interview with Israeli chief of staff totally and utterly ignore the Palestinian issue. That's clearly no mistake or lapse of journalistic judgment - it's intentional. And it's politically motivated.
Has the Saudi (and UAE) leadership accepted Israel's generous offer on Iran in return for ignoring the plight of Palestine? Or does Riyadh still insist on Israel accepting the Arab initiative before formal normalisation begins?
It seems the Saudis and Israelis are waiting for clarifications and answers from President Trump's proposal - what he promises will be the "ultimate deal" to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. For example, will the US ask Israel to withdraw from East Jerusalem or will it pressure the Saudis to pressure the Palestinians to give up their right to a state and a capital? Or, perhaps, leave it in limbo?
Spare yourselves the suspense. The "ultimate deal" is the ultimate BS.
Why? Well, because the boy-wonder that Trump appointed as the best man for the job of resolving the century-old conflict is none other than his son-in-law, Jared Kushner - a lousy businessman and a religious Zionist, whose claim to fame is marrying the right girl at the right time. It's not even clear whether Kushner's White House career will survive the Russia investigation, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly after him for his role in the dismissal of FBI chief James Comey. Mueller is also looking into Kushner's secret policy coordination with Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu to undermine the Obama administration during a UN vote on Israeli illegal settlements in Palestine.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walks with Ivanka Trump at the Royal Court Palace in Riyadh on May 20, 2017 [Evan Vucci/AP]
In my estimation, the Trump administration will fail to produce a credible and comprehensive peace strategy, and, like its predecessors, it will fail to resolve the "Israel problem" or stop the colonisation of Palestine. Likewise, the administration has no real actionable Iran strategy, and lacks the will and the intention to confront Iran in various hotspots of the greater Middle East.
Tweeting Iran into submission doesn't require Israeli or Saudi participation. Trump is more than capable.
Consequently, if the Saudi royals normalise with the "Zionist usurpers" of Jerusalem, they'll find out that they've been exposed on all fronts. They'll learn that Israel won't fight their battles for them. And they will also discover, rather late, that instead of putting Iran in a corner, normalisation with Israel in the absence of peace will empower and propagate Iran's role in the region. 
And there's more.
Before the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques surrenders al-Aqsa to the "Zionists" or before the Salmans raise Israeli flags in Riyadh, it's worthwhile to consider the consequences of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's normalisation with Israel. Bear in mind that Saudi Arabia, unlike Egypt, does not seek to liberate territories from Israeli occupation and desires no aid from the United States.

Four decades later...

Forty years ago this week, then-Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a diplomatic splash when he visited Israel and spoke to the Knesset. It broke a psychological barrier in the Arab world, marked a turning point in the conflict with Israel, and saw the beginning of Egypt's official normalisation of relations with Israel.
Sadat cemented that process into a cold peace the following year, signing the Camp David accords, which guaranteed the return of occupied Sinai and billions of dollars in aid from the US, but neglected the occupied territories of the rest of the Arabs, including the Palestinians.
A militant Egyptian group assassinated Sadat during a military parade three years later, but his successor Hosni Mubarak continued to honour the agreement. Sinai was returned and the aid came through, but the bigger promise of modernisation, openness and peace dividend never really materialised, certainly not for ordinary Egyptians.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in the Knesset on November 20, 1977 [Shmuel Rachmani/AP]
For the people of Egypt, normalisation with Israel never became normal. The Egyptian people remained mostly hostile or indifferent towards their neighbour to the north. And Palestine continued to be a rallying cause for Egyptian civil society, in their pursuit of justice and freedom from repression.
But for Israel, normalisation was a bounty. With its southern flanks secured, it began a large campaign of repression against Palestinians and escalation of its illegal settlement activities in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel annexed the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. And in 1982, it invaded Lebanon to crush the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Lebanese National Movement, which led to tens of thousands of casualties. It maintained its occupation of southern Lebanon for the next 18 years. Israel's status was elevated soon after from US regional ally to global "strategic asset".
Forty years ago, there was no Palestinian Hamas and no Lebanese Hezbollah, no al-Qaeda and ISIL, and no Islamic Republic of Iran. But soon after the Camp David accords, Israeli aggression paved the way for the rise of Hamas and Hezbollah, just as Soviet and US aggression - coupled with Arab discord - plunged the region into chaos and paved the way for the rise of militant Islamists.

Betraying Palestine

The lessons couldn't be clearer. Arab autocrats, who fail in governance and in war, also fail in peace and normalisation.
Normalisation through weakness is the exact opposite of peace through strength, and therefore, is destined to fail. It is an idea that is tinged with betrayal: betrayal of common Arab interests, as well as the betrayal of Palestine.
For the people of the Arab world, Palestine has long been a rallying cause because it's about more than geography or a homeland for the Palestinian people. Palestine is the test of Arab conscience, the symbol of the struggle for freedom, not only from military occupation, but also from political repression at home.
Those who shed tears over Arab unity and national security in Cairo this week are the very regimes cooperating with Israel in secret. Their incompetence has paved the way for Israel, Iran and the US to run amok in the region.
When the regional hysteria finally ceases, when the hallucination subsides, history will cast a harsh judgment on the cynics who normalise with Israel at the expense of Palestine. 


Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon

صفقة سوتشي

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

خاشقجي: فقدان الحرية بالسعودية لم يعد محتملا

شروط إسرائيل التعجيزية: تصفية مبكرة لصفقة القرن

صالح النعامي


قلص إعلان أوساط إسرائيلية شروط دولة الاحتلال الأربعة لقبول أية مبادرة تتقدم بها إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب لحل الصراع الفلسطيني ــ الإسرائيلي، هامش المناورة أمام الولايات المتحدة، إلى جانب أنه أحرج الأطراف العربية، التي تراهن واشنطن على دورها في تسويق المبادرة العتيدة، وعلى رأسهاالسعودية.

وحسب التصريحات التي أدلت بها أمس نائبة وزير الخارجية الإسرائيلي الليكودية تسيفي حوطبيلي لراديو "عروتس شيفع"، (يمثل التيار الديني الصهيوني)، الذي تنتمي إليه، فإن أية مبادرة لحل الصراع يجب أن تتضمن الشروط التالية: "لا سيادة بين البحر الأبيض المتوسط ونهر الأردن غير السيادة الإسرائيلية، عدم تفكيك أية مستوطنة من المستوطنات اليهودية المقامة في الضفة الغربية، القدس كمدينة موحدة ستظل عاصمة إسرائيل الأبدية، وعدم السماح بعودة اللاجئين الفلسطينيين".
ومن الواضح أن أي مبادرة لحل الصراع تتبنى الشروط الإسرائيلية تستبعد بالضرورة فكرة تدشين دولة فلسطينية، فالإصرار على أن تكون إسرائيل فقط هي الطرف صاحب السيادة في الضفة الغربية يعني أن الكيان الفلسطيني الذي سينشأ نتاج تسوية تقوم على أساس هذه المبادرة سيتمتع بحكم ذاتي، تنحصر صلاحياته في إدارة شؤون الفلسطينيين الحياتية، على وجه الخصوص في المناطق التي تتمتع فيها السلطة الفلسطينية حالياً بالصلاحيات المدنية والأمنية.
وهذه المناطق مصنفة (أ) و(ب)، حسب اتفاقية أوسلو، والتي تقل عن 40% من مساحة الضفة الغربية، وذلك في الوقت الذي ستواصل إسرائيل التمتع بحرية التصرف في مناطق (ج)، التي تشكل أكثر من 60% من الضفة، والتي تتركز فيها كل المستوطنات اليهودية في الضفة، إلى جانب أنها تضم ما يوصف في تل أبيب بـ"الفضاء الحيوي" للدفاع عن العمق الإسرائيلي، لا سيما منطقة غور الأردن.
إلى جانب ذلك، فإن الشروط الإسرائيلية، تعني أن الصلاحيات الأمنية التي يتمتع بها الكيان الفلسطيني العتيد لا تتعدى الصلاحيات الأمنية التي تتمتع بها السلطة الفلسطينية، والتي تنحصر بشكل خاص في مجال التعاون مع إسرائيل أمنياً في مواجهة المقاومة.
في الوقت نفسه، فإن القبول بسيادة إسرائيلية مطلقة في الضفة الغربية يعني أنه لن يكون بوسع الكيان الفلسطيني العتيد السيطرة على الحدود، أو تدشين علاقات خارجية. في الوقت ذاته، فإن الاستجابة للشروط الإسرائيلية تعني تفريغ القضية الفلسطينية من مضمونها، لأنها تحسم مسبقاً قضايا الحل الدائم الرئيسة: المستوطنات، القدس، واللاجئون، بما يتوافق مع التصور الإسرائيلي للحل.
لكن السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه: ما مسوغات مسارعة إسرائيل لإعلان هذه الشروط قبل إعلان ترامب عن مبادرته، والذي كان يفترض أن يتم في ديسمبر أو يناير القادم؟ فهل كانت حكومة اليمين المتطرف تتخوف من أن تتضمن المبادرة بنوداً لا تأخذ بهذه الشروط؟ أم أن الإعلان جاء نتاج الضغوط التي مارسها تحديداً "الصقور" من وزراء حزب الليكود، الذي يرأسه بنيامين نتنياهو، الذين رفضوا بقوة بنود المبادرة الأميركية، التي سربتها أخيراً، قناة التلفزة الإسرائيلية الثانية، لمجرد أنها دعت إلى تدشين دولة فلسطينية، مع ضمان بقاء كل المستوطنات في الضفة وتأجيل بحث قضية القدس؟.
وبغض النظر عن المسوغات وراء الإعلان عن الشروط الإسرائيلية، فقد بات في حكم المؤكد أن هذا التطور سيؤثر على مصير مبادرة ترامب للتسوية، حيث إنه سيكون من الصعب جداً أن تستجيب المبادرة الأميركية لهذه الشروط، على اعتبار أن واشنطن تعي أنه سيكون من المستحيل على الجانب الفلسطيني قبول هذه المبادرة، ناهيك عن أن تبني الشروط الإسرائيلية سيقلص قدرة الأطراف العربية، لا سيما السعودية على تسويقها لدى الفلسطينيين، على اعتبار أنها تتناقض بشكل مطلق مع بنود "مبادرة السلام العربية". وإن كانت شروط إسرائيل التعجيزية ستقلص من فرص إعلان ترامب مبادرته، فإنها ستقلص من فرص تعرض قيادة السلطة للضغوط الأميركية والعربية، التي كان يمكن أن تمارس عليها لقبول هذه المبادرة.
إلى جانب ذلك، فإن تهديد الولايات المتحدة بإغلاق ممثلية منظمة التحرير في واشنطن والإنذار بقطع المساعدات المالية عن السلطة في حال لم توافق على استئناف المفاوضات مع إسرائيل في غضون 90 يوماً، لم يعد ذا صلة بالواقع، على اعتبار أن الشروط الإسرائيلية ستمنح قيادة السلطة القدرة على المحاججة بأنها تنسف بيئة أية مفاوضات جدية.
ويدلل الإعلان عن الشروط الإسرائيلية على أن تل أبيب لا تخشى ردة الفعل الأميركية، حيث إن إدارة ترامب تتجنب توجيه أي نقد للسياسات الإسرائيلية، وذلك بخلاف إدارة أوباما.
ومما لا شك فيه أن إعلان إسرائيل شروطها التعجيزية يقلص من قدرة أنظمة الحكم العربية، التي ترتبط بعلاقات سرية قوية مع تل أبيب على إخراج هذه العلاقات للعلن، ناهيك عن أنها تمثل ضربة للنخب المرتبطة بهذه الأنظمة، والتي تحاول تسويق التقارب مع إسرائيل.
وإن كان هناك من يراهن على إسهام مبادرة ترامب في تسوية الطريق أمام صفقة القرن التي تضفي شرعية على التطبيع الكامل بين إسرائيل ودول عربية لا تقيم علاقات دبلوماسية معها، فإن الشروط التي أعلنتها تل أبيب تصفي فرص هذه الصفة.

EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s 'ultimate deal' seen as ultimatum to Palestinians

Crown prince offered Mahmoud Abbas more cash for new state as Saudi Arabia pushes for Israeli support against Iran, say sources


JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON - A US team is in the process of finalising President Donald Trump’s "ultimate deal" for peace between Palestinians and Israel, a Western diplomat and Palestinian officials have told Middle East Eye.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the issue with the media, said that the deal will include:
  • The establishment of a Palestinian state, whose borders will include the Gaza Strip as well as Areas A, B and parts of Area C in the West Bank (see map below)
  • Donor countries to provide $10bn to establish the state and its infrastructure including an airport, a sea port in Gaza, housing, agriculture, industrial areas and new cities
  • The status of Jerusalem and the issue of returning refugees to be postponed until later negotiations
  • Final negotiations to include regional peace talks between Israel and Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia
The diplomat said that Jared Kushner, Trump’s special adviser and head of his team for the peace process, visited Saudi Arabia recently and briefed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also known as MBS, about the plan.
Kushner also asked the Saudis to help persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the plan, which will be officially presented in early 2018.
The diplomat, who is very close to the US team, said bin Salman had met with Abbas in early November to brief him on the proposal. The crown prince asked the Palestinian president to accept the plan and be positive about it.
MBS is very enthusiastic about the plan,” the diplomat said, “and he is eager to see a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel first, then between Israel and the Arab countries, as a first step in forming a coalition between Saudi Arabia and Israel to counter the Iranian threat.”

Saudi need for support against Iran

The diplomat said that bin Salman told Kushner he is willing to invest large amounts of capital in the deal, and would give the Palestinian leadership the necessary incentives for a positive response.
Palestinian officials told MEE that Abbas met with bin Salman during his recent visit to Riyadh, which began on 8 November. There, he offered to increase Saudi financial support to the Palestinian Authority almost three-fold from $7.5m a month to $20m. 
'This is Netanyahu’s plan and he sold it the US team and they are trying to sell it to the Palestinians and Arabs'
- Palestinian official
Bin Salman told Abbas that the Iranian threat to Arab countries is serious, sources close to the talks said, and that Saudi was in serious need of support from the United States and Israel to face its "existential conflict" with Tehran. “We cannot have Israel on our side before solving the Palestinian-Israel conflict," the source reported the crown prince as saying.
One Palestinian official said: “President Abbas believes the plan could be okay only if we add to it the words '1967 borders'. We are willing to give Israel time if they are willing to give us land.
"We told them, if the plan states clearly that the 'ultimate deal' is to have Palestinian statehood [based] on the 1967 borders with a slight land swap, [then] we will accept the first stage of it, which [is ] establishing a state with provisional borders.”
The official, who is close to the talks, said the only Palestinian concerns were that Israel will make the provisional deal final.
Another Palestinian official said Abbas believes the plan, which was drafted by Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, initially originated from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This is Netanyahu’s plan and he sold it the US team and they are trying to sell it to the Palestinians and Arabs,” the source said.

Palestinian DC office shut down

The official added that the Palestinians are now expecting more pressure from Washington and Arab capitals.
The US is waving sanctions against the Palestinians if they reject the plan, like shutting down the PLO mission office in Washington DC and stopping the financial aid to the Palestinian Authority,” the source said.
That threat came to pass this week as the US shut down the office of the Palestinian representative in Washington and the Palestinians in turn froze all meetings with the US, officials said on Tuesday.
"What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office? Our meetings begin from our office, and the arrangements are there," Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP.
The Palestinian official said that in 2000, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah told PLO leader Yasser Arafat: "We accept only what the Palestinians accept."
“At the Camp David Talks in 2000, the Arabs supported late leader Yasser Arafat in facing the US pressure. But now, no one is standing alongside us.
"But now the Saudi king is drowning in the conflict with Iran in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq and the Egyptian president is drowning in Sinai."
Relations between Saudi and Israel have eased during the past few months. Recent reports have suggested that a Saudi prince travelled to Tel Aviv for a secret meeting with senior Israeli officials. 
On 16 November, Gadi Eizenkot, Israel's chief of general staff, said that the country was ready to share “intelligence information” with Saudi Arabia and that both countries had a common interest in opposing Iran.

'Empty words'

But many Palestinians say they would reject any Saudi-led peace deal which compromised on the right of return of Palestinian refugees and sought to "normalise" Arab relations with Israel.
A Palestinian security officer stands by a mural of Yasser Arafat in Ain el-Helweh (AFP)
"This will never be accepted by any Palestinian, inside Palestine, outside Palestine, anywhere," Major General Sobhi Abu Arab, the Palestinian national security chief in the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, told MEE.
"This is not a new idea. It is brought up every so often and Abu Mazen [Abbas] would never agree to it."
"These are empty words that have been used for decades."
Zafer al-Khateeb, a Palestinian activist inside Ain el-Helweh, said that Israel was seeking to use the opportunity with Saudi Arabia to "break the taboo on Arab normalisation with Israel".
"They know the right of return cannot be removed. That is not to say there isn’t something being cooked. There is certainly work being done, but until now it is unclear and there is no reality on the ground," he said.

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon: عناق بوتين للاسد

عناق بوتين للاسد