Egypt, Jordan coordinate stands on Deal of the Century
CAIRO - Egyptian and Jordanian leaders discussed Middle East peace, the future of Jerusalem and the situation in volatile regional spots during a visit by Jordanian King Abdullah II to Cairo.
“They also discussed maintaining support to the Palestinians,” the Egyptian presidency said in a statement, following the July 29 meeting between King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
King Abdullah’s visit to Cairo was his second in less than five months. He visited in March for a summit with Sisi and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. The July visit was less than a month after the Egyptian-Jordanian committee meeting and just before the king’s meeting with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner in Amman.
Kushner started a regional tour July 31 in Amman and Tel Aviv, with stops planned for Cairo, Casablanca and Riyadh. He was in the region to promote a blueprint for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, widely known as the Deal of the Century.
Egypt and Jordan were represented at a relatively modest level at a workshop in Bahrain on the economic part of the plan in June. The two countries expressed reservations about the plan, especially following leaks on its political part.
Egyptian and Jordanian stances are crucial regarding Middle East peacemaking. They are the only Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel (Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994).
The two countries share borders with Israel and maintain close relations with Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
“Kushner cannot get anything positive from Arab capitals so long as these capitals do not get approval from the Palestinians,” said Hazem Abu Shanab, a member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah, the movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “We have a clear position on this deal.”
The Palestinians boycotted the Manama workshop and have rejected the Deal of the Century out of hand, considering it a recipe for the total loss of Palestinian rights.
On July 31, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the failure of the Trump administration to announce full details of the deal reflected its confusion and the depth of the crisis caused by the Palestinian rejection of the proposal.
“All American and Israeli efforts to bypass Palestinian legitimacy through side roads are doomed to fail,” it said in a statement.
It said media leaks about the deal aim to prove that peace can be achieved without the Palestinians.
“The Americans view the Palestinians as mere partners and are ready to offer only illusory improvements in the living conditions and standards of the Palestinian people as was demonstrated during the Manama workshop,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said.
In their talks in Cairo, King Abdullah and Sisi said their countries would maintain support to the Palestinian people until they regain their legitimate right to establish an independent state along the borders of June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital and as detailed in the two-state solution posited in the Arab Peace Initiative.
“This will contribute to bringing stability back and giving new hope to the region and its peoples,” the two leaders said in statement issued by the Egyptian Presidency.
They rejected Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories, including the demolition of dozens of buildings.
King Abdullah’s meeting with Sisi was five days after he met with Abbas in Amman. The meeting was two days after he met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi.
Apart from facing similar security problems, Egypt and Jordan share concerns over the US peace blueprint, especially in relation to advocating the transfer of some Palestinians to neighbouring states.
Egypt rejected the notion altogether and Jordan is also against it but the idea is being floated, especially in the absence of clarity on the political aspects of the proposal.
“The two countries will surely reject any settlement that will not give the Palestinians their full rights,” said Akram Badreddine, a political science professor at Cairo University. “The Palestinian-Israeli conflict cannot be resolved at the expense of neighbouring countries.”