Voices from the Arab Press: Deal of Century a tool to punish Palestinians

It is becoming clear that [US presidential adviser Jared] Kushner’s peace plan consists of a sub-state Palestinian entity in the West Bank that is fully subordinate to Israel.

PALESTINIAN DEMONSTRATORS burn a poster depicting US President Donald Trump, in Hebron on February 22. (photo credit: REUTERS)
PALESTINIAN DEMONSTRATORS burn a poster depicting US President Donald Trump, in Hebron on February 22.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Araby al-Jadid, London, May 9

Everyone is waiting for the “deal of the century” to be published. Much has been said and written about the plan, whose publication has been postponed time and again, most recently due to the Israeli elections and the American fear that it would negatively impact the likelihood of Binyamin Netanyahu being reelected. To help Netanyahu win, the Trump Administration not only delayed the announcement of the plan, but also presented a gift to the Israeli government in the form of formal American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Now, after Netanyahu won the elections and a right-wing government is slated to be installed, the US is finally expected present its much-anticipated plan. According to an interview given by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the plan is going to focus on “enhancing the economic benefits of the Palestinians and the security of Israel.” This almost surely means that the plan envisions full Israeli control over the West Bank, without any Palestinian sovereignty.
Furthermore, the plan’s focus on economic development of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is nothing but an old trope that simply deflects attention from the most burning problems. After all, Netanyahu himself proposed a so-called “economic peace” plan back when he was first elected prime minister. This framing of the conflict only serves to shift attention away from the core political issues on the table, such as the status of Jerusalem or a return for Palestinian refugees.
It is becoming clearer and clearer that Kushner’s peace plan consists of a sub-state Palestinian entity in the West Bank that is fully subordinate to Israel. It will also enable Israel to maintain its settlements in the West Bank and perhaps even provide full American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over these territories. This leaves the Palestinian people with virtually no gains.
The Trump administration knows that this plan is a non-starter for any Palestinian leader, no matter how moderate. By cornering the Palestinian leadership and forcing it to accept a deal against its own will, Trump is hoping to portray the Palestinian people as ungracious and unthankful. This will enable him to “punish” the Palestinian Authority once it rejects the plan, with further cessation of US funding to Palestinian institutions and the removal of Palestine from international forums. The Israelis will be awarded yet another prize they don’t deserve, while the Palestinians will continue to be unjustifiably punished.
– Samir Al-Zabin
Al-Ayaam, Ramallah, May 8
During the past decade, Israel has waged three wars against the people of Gaza. The recent fighting... adds yet another round of hostilities to this long list. While it was not a full-blown war, this tit-for-tat between Israel and Hamas was much more than a temporary escalation in tensions. Sadly, it was also extremely familiar to us all: Like the other wars on Gaza, it consisted of a massive Israeli bombing campaign, often of empty areas, just to flex its muscles. And like its predecessors, this round of fighting ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that Israel fervently denied accepting, but everyone knew it negotiated behind the scenes.
The Israeli reaction seems to be taken from the same playbook each and every time, so we are all aware of what will happen next. We know that the truce will hold for now, perhaps for a few months, until a new round of fighting breaks out, setting in motion the same vicious cycle of violence yet again. The interesting thing about what we [recently] witnessed... however, is that it was carefully planned by the Israeli government.
According to several sources, the Israeli cabinet decided well in advance to allow the fighting to unfold for three days. The script was well-rehearsed: Netanyahu would convene a high-profile consultation with military leaders in his office, the military would be ordered to intensify its attacks, a small number of ground forces would be symbolically mobilized toward the Gaza border, and then a truce would suddenly be reached. This is the pattern we’ve witnessed each and every time Israel has threatened to escalate things against Hamas, and this is what happened this time as well.
Netanyahu, despite all of his bells and whistles, understands that there is very little he can do to change the status quo. Until he changes the equation by taking strategic action on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Israel will remain a hostage in this game. Netanyahu will continue to punish the people of Gaza and retaliate against Hamas, yet he will never win. Instead, a new round of fighting will break out until the next ceasefire agreement is reached.
– Hani Habib
IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking national Workers’ Week in Tehran on April 30. (Credit: REUTERS)IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking national Workers’ Week in Tehran on April 30. (Credit: REUTERS)
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, May 10
When I spoke to a number of researchers and policymakers in Europe over the past few weeks, I got the impression that when looking at things from the European vantage point, Iran looks like a recurring nightmare that everybody wishes would disappear. Two years ago, many in Europe believed that this nightmare was over and gone for good. Today, however, the nightmare has resurfaced, accompanied by war drums in the background.
The Europeans have never excelled in devising a unified and coherent strategy on Iran. During Obama’s eight years of presidency, the EU delayed every attempt to conduct a serious analysis of the Iranian issue. This made most European countries mere bystanders in the negotiations with Tehran. But the times have changed and today, under the presidency of Donald Trump, Europe is being forced to step up to the plate. The truth is that most European leaders agree with Trump’s approach of applying maximum pressure on Iran. However, European leaders fear three main things.
First, is that cracking down on the Iranian regime would lead to its collapse and the rise of an even more extremist government. Second, there is a genuine fear that as the situation in Iran deteriorates, millions of Iranian refugees will make their way toward Europe. The third, and perhaps most serious, concern is that a fully armed confrontation with Iran would lead to unprecedented destruction and a potential outbreak of a third world war. While none of these concerns should be underestimated, these are nothing more than European excuses not to act.
Fearing the rise of an even more extremist regime is no excuse to embrace a rogue regime led by tyrants. Similarly, Iranian refugees have already been fleeing their country for several decades, especially since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Therefore, the toppling of the mullah regime might actually enable displaced Iranians to return to their homes.
Finally, it is rather clear that any confrontation with Iran would likely involve US, and not European, forces as the primary players on the battlefield. While the possibility of war must not be ignored, it is unlikely that Europe would bear the brunt of the burden if war were to break out. Therefore, the Europeans are quickly realizing that they have no choice but to take a firm stance against Tehran. The mullahs have escalated their tone against the West, and there is very little wiggle room left. Tehran is playing with fire and it may very well lead to a backlash one day.
– Amir Taheri 
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 10
In 196 BC, phrases in three ancient scripts were carved on the Rosetta Stone in the Delta region of Egypt. These hieroglyphs remained cryptic for thousands of years until French scholar Jean-Francoise Champollion managed to decipher them in 1822.
Those who engraved the Rosetta Stone were able to record their data and maintain it for more than 2,200 years. It survived natural disasters, wars and the rise and fall of entire civilizations. This raises the inevitable question: What will be the fate of our data, which we create today, in a million years’ time?
Indeed, the problem of data storage and management is not an easy one. When NASA sent a spaceship to Mars in 1975, images and analyses of Mars’s environment were made. The data was saved on a magnetic tape, which was considered the latest technology at the time. But only 10 years later, NASA did not have one person capable of dealing with these magnetic tapes and reading their data, causing at least 20% of those precious images to be lost forever. Similarly, just 30 years ago, floppy disks were still used by people around the world to store their documents. Most of the assignments I personally wrote in college are still stored on some. But today, I cannot find a single computer or machine that can deal with them, rendering this data as good as dead. In today’s world, many consider cloud storage to be the most secure way to save data. But what if all the servers responsible for storing the data collapse?
As with the magnetic tapes of the 1970s and the floppy disks of the 1990s, no one can say that these servers and technologies will last forever. Even if the data remains, what assurances do we have that computers or whatever smart devices people use in the future will be able to read our old files? They may very well become dead languages or obsolete technologies. However, there are a number of ambitious projects to store data for long periods, such as data storage in DNA, where nucleic acids carry the information of our own genes and organisms and have survived for millions of years.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich is working on a data storage research project such as the Swiss Federal Law on Nuclear Acids. While digital data uses zero and one, the adenine and cytosine bases would be zero and the guanine and thiamine bases would be one. In one gram of DNA, 455 billion gigabytes of data could be stored. As for the future of our data, DNA data can survive for about two million years at -18°C. This seems reassuring. Yet the cost remains high and the technology to do so remains a major challenge. Who knows what will end up happening with our data in a million years?
– Essam Bukhari
The Media Line