US President Donald Trump and his Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt this week engaged two Arab royals for their opening shots at restarting peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Saudi Defense Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was received at the White House, while Jordan’s King Abdullah II saw Greenblatt in Amman. Both were shown the list of demands the US envoy had handed Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), when he visited in Ramallah on Tuesday, March 14.
The two tracks accentuated the broad Arab-based regional character of the Trump administration’s peace initiative, in contrast to the narrow, bilateral effort which Secretary of State John Kerry working on behalf of President Barack Obama ran into the ground.
Thursday, March 16, the Trump envoy returns to Jerusalem for a summing up of his mission with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
In an exclusive report, debkafile first reveals here the substance of the tough terms presented to Mahmoud Abbas for the US to consent to broker negotiations for a resolution of the decades-long conflict.
1. The Palestinians must return to the negotiating table without pre-conditions – an immovable sticking point until now.
2. Over and above US intervention in the peace process, the Palestinians must also accept a role for leading Arab governments - specifically, Egypt, Saudi, Arabia, Jordan and Arab oil emirates. This is a bitter pill for Abbas to swallow, since none of the four leaders can tolerate him.
On the same day as the Trump envoy’s visit to Ramallah, a conference of the Palestinian leader’s opponents took place in Paris. It was set up by Abu Mazen’s arch-foe, the exiled Fatah activist Muhammad Dahlan. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah accused Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyran of putting up the one-million euros to pay for the event.
3. Abbas must forget about a moratorium on Jewish settlements on the West Bank – although a former Netanyahu government accepted a 10-month freeze. At most, Israel would hold back from establishing new communities in Judea and Samaria during the course of the negotiations.
4. The Trump administration will not be satisfied with verbal statements by Palestinian leaders condemning acts of terror, but insists on aggressive practical steps: Palestinian media must stop broadcasting anti-Israel materials, Palestinian school curricula must be purged of hate Israel propaganda, and the PA must give up naming streets and squares after dead terrorists, thereby treating them as martyrs to a holy cause.
5. The revolving door for captured terrorist suspects must be replaced with proper investigations. Suspects must be held and closely questioned to discover who gave them their orders, name their accomplices and reveal the source of their weapons and explosives, before going on trial.
6. The Palestinian authority must discontinue the custom of remittances to the families of terrorists who were killed or imprisoned, a practice that confers honor on their deeds.
7. Palestinian security forces must be radically overhauled, mainly to end the pervasive practice of moonlighting, whereby uniformed members hold down two jobs and draw two salaries.
8. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah must stop transferring funds to the Gaza Strip, which serve to bolster the regime of the extremist Hamas rulers. The sums transferred draw off 52 percent of the PA’s total budget.
9. The Trump administration supports a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.