More than two or three years ago, the US administration leaked a rumor about something called the “Deal of the Century” without revealing any details. It was leaked that this “Deal” will resolve the Palestinian question and all the problems of the Middle East, and include all countries in the region where there will be prosperity for all.
As time passes, the rumor spread with imaginations running wild raising the expectations of the Arab peoples, especially the Palestinians. Creating a situation similar to that of a merchant who is trying to promote a new product by creating an atmosphere of anticipation, so that when the product is released, consumers would compete to acquire it, even if there were no real need for it. Finally, after a long wait, on 25-26 June, the "deal" was unveiled.
“There is nothing money can t buy”, this is a saying that the West believes in strongly. It implies that anything and everything has a price and could be bought, including dignity, loyalty, honor, honesty, nation, homeland and human beings, as well as killers, robbers and rapists. I believe that this is the philosophical justification for the “wild neo-liberalism” that runs the World economy today. It seems that this is the same logic that controls the thoughts of those who imagined and shaped the “Deal of the Century”. But, from what has been announced, it does not seem to be a political deal nor an economic one, nor even a deal to show good will or to save face. It does not seem to be a deal at all, let alone the “Deal of the Century”.
At the political level, the so-called “deal” does not intersect, at all or even by chance, with any of the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people. It does not talk about ending the occupation or the Palestinian people as a People with history, present and future, and legitimate rights. It talks about the Palestinian people as if they are a group of individuals who happened to be living in the region without any history, and could be satisfied or silenced by providing them any crumbs. This “deal” has no international, historical or legal reference. Its political ceiling, if it exists, is far less than any know international agreement (even if the Palestinians have reluctantly accepted it). It ignores the United Nations General Assembly or security Council resolutions, and pretends to forget the two-state solution, refugees, the right of return and Jerusalem. It seems that the "deal" only reference is that Israel is a Jewish state.
At the economic level, the “deal” is not less surprising, nor its wrapping is less cynical. It was promoted as the “$51 billion deal”. But actually, out of the $51 billion, $11 billion are supposed to come from foreign investments, and of course no one knows whether they would materialize or not. This means that the value of the "deal" is $40 billion only and not $51 billion. Add to this, the beneficiary of the deal is not only Palestine but three other Arab countries (Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon), and the $40 billion will be disbursed over 10 years; not one, two or three years.
Egypt s share of the “deal” could be around $800 million in grants and $4 billion in loans over the ten years. The amount of the grant is negligible, relative to the size of Egypt s economy, and does not deserve any comment. But the loans could be harmful because they will increase the already heavy burden of debt, on projects that may not suit Egypt politically or economically.
As for the Palestinian people, their share of the “deal of the $40 billion-4-country-10-year” is 26 billion dollars, of which $11.4 billion are supposed to be in grants and the remaining $14.6 billion in loans. Here there is an attempt to enforce a fallacy by lending a people under occupation, while evading and renouncing the international responsibility towards the Palestinian people. Yet this is not the only fallacy, because most of the projects that would be funded from the “deal” would be done by American or Israeli companies, meaning that the money of the “deal” would benefit these companies, not the Palestinian people.
To better appreciate the magnitude of the fallacies, one has to compare between what is proposed by the “deal” and what is presently available to the Palestinian people. According to what was announced, the annual average of Palestine s share in the “deal” could be around $1.1 billion in grants and $1.5 billion in annual loans, which must be paid back plus interest during or after the 10 years. On the other hand, presently the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) serves 2.5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza with an estimated annual budget of at least $ 650 million. The donor community funds this budget, but the United States has stopped its support to UNRWA in the last two years. The Palestinian people also receives an annual grant of about $ 800 million in development assistance and budget support to the government, but again the United States halted this support two years ago. In addition, there are annual (non-US) grants to the Palestinian private sector and NGOs estimated at about $ 250 million annually.
Hence, the sum of grants that presently reach the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, are estimated at a minimum of $1.7 billion annually. This is more than one and a half times of what is proposed by the “deal”.
Simply put, the “deal of the 40/4/10” is not concerned by ending the occupation nor by the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people; it is not even economically attractive or viable. On the contrary, what is being offered, from an economic point view, is less than what is presently available to the Palestinian people.
Gentlemen, the cause of the Palestinian people, their land, homeland and their legitimate rights can t be resolved by a “deal”, even if it is a “Real” deal.