Sunday, December 24, 2017

Saudi Israelia

The illegal squatters have an unsolvable predicament, and spend their days coming up with huge wacky schemes to try to deal with it.  Saudi Israelia.  "Iran, the Hejaz railway and the 'ultimate deal'" (Law):
 ". . . the official Saudi response to US President Donald Trump's statement declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel has been surprisingly muted given that the kingdom's leadership over several decades has pushed, often only tepidly, for a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

Just how muted can be measured by a remarkable meeting MBS had in early December with Robert Satloff who runs the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The WINEP is a pro-Israeli think-tank linked to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), itself a powerful organisation that lobbies strenuously on Israel's behalf in Washington.

Satloff had an 80-minute session with MBS in Riyadh, something that would have been unthinkable even a few months ago. The fact that the meeting happened just after Trump's declaration on Jerusalem, that it lasted over an hour, and that MBS only mentioned Jerusalem after prompting from Satloff, makes it even more remarkable.

A week later Satloff published an article on WINEP's website titled "Mohammed bin Salman Doesn't Want to Talk About Jerusalem". He wrote the following:

"If we hadn't asked him directly about Trump's announcement, it may never have come up […] He limited himself to a single word of disappointment about the President's decision - literally - and then quickly turned to where Riyadh and Washington could work together to limit the fallout and restore hope to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

That peace process increasingly looks to be a deal cooked up by MBS and Jared Kushner. It is the so-called sanctuary plan which would see a new Palestinian state created by combining Gaza with North Sinai. West Bank Palestinian towns and cities now being increasingly encircled by Israeli settlements would fall under the jurisdiction of Jordan. For their part, the Saudis would commit hundreds of millions of dollars to support the project.

The plan anticipates an exodus of Palestinians to Sinai from the West Bank, from a terribly overcrowded Gaza and from Israel thus defusing the demographic time bomb the Israelis would face if they declared a one-state solution with equal rights for all, a democracy where Palestinians would inevitably become the majority.

Declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel is the first step in the grand plan to close, in Trump's words, "the ultimate deal". Katz with his transport minister's cap on has already offered to build an artificial island off the coast of Gaza that would serve as an airport and transport hub for the new state.

That the sanctuary plan flies in the face of reality on the ground seems to have escaped Katz, MBS and Kushner. The Palestinians are not likely to be gang-pressed into abandoning their decades-long struggle for their homeland. Nor are Egyptians living in North Sinai going to take well being forcibly relocated west of Suez. And will President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, already stung by criticism for giving up two islands to the Saudis, offer up a big chunk of the Sinai Peninsula? Finally, where will the increasingly cash-strapped Saudis find the money to fund this madcap enterprise?

For now, though, the real danger remains the heightened anxiety over the growing clout of Iran in the region, one that could lead the Israelis, the Saudis and the Americans into a full-scale proxy war. And Katz has already signalled that he is up for it. Speaking recently of the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli war in Lebanon, he said, "What happened in 2006 will be a picnic compared to what we can do […] I am telling you that we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age.""
 "Israeli minister eyeing PM job seeks to form ‘anti-Iran axis’ with Saudi Arabia" (Reguly).
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