Can Palestinians mount an effective campaign against the 'deal of the century?'
Opinion: Postponing the 'deal of the century' until after Ramadan gives the Palestinians time to rally Arab and Muslim opposition to the deal, although many Arab leaders will avoid criticizing Trump at all costs ; further erosion of Palestinian standing in Jerusalem can be explosive, but Hamas and Fatah still cannot manage to find common ground
Before leaving for Egypt, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stopped for a photo-op with the Palestinian winner of the Arab Beauty Queen Pageant. The photo shows a young woman originally form Jerusalem who now lives mostly in London – full of glamour and beauty in a traditionally tailored dress. Abbas on the other hand couldn't even bring himself to smile. It is easy to understand why, he had a lengthy and discouraging day ahead.
"I came here to talk to you about our relations with Trump, Israel and Hamas," Abbas began his speech by referring to the three hostile entities he is dealing with.
Heeding to his advisors, he softened his rhetoric against Trump and decided to focus his criticism on Trump's aides. But the speech clearly laid out the depth of the historic low the Palestinian National Movement currently finds itself.
"I ask myself what is left?" said Abbas, asking the audience, made up of foreign ministers of Arab Countries who are at odds with each other, for economic aid.
The US decision to postpone the announcement regarding the "deal of the century" until June seems reasonable: the Trump administration is giving Prime Minister Netanyahu time to form his government coalition and since the Palestinians, and maybe the Jordanians, will run a campaign against the deal, it is best to wait until after the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan – when every Friday is prone to demonstrations and likely violence.
On the other hand, its postponement gives the Palestinians time to organize their campaign and try to rally the Arab Countries behind them. For the time being it doesn't seem like an easy task. Although the Jordanians, with a hostile populace, already reject the deal – especially the part concerning Jerusalem - Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will do everything not to criticize Trump outright.
In general, it is hard to organize a campaign if you do not know what you are fighting against. "The deal of the century" seems to have become synonymous to a scheme aimed at depriving the Palestinians of the remainder of their rights, but the media blackout of the deal's particulars by Trump advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt is making it hard to formulate a robust argument against the deal.
If the Americans were any bolder, they would have engaged in a digital campaign aimed directly at the Palestinian people, bypassing their leadership, to emphasizes the advantages of the deal for the Palestinian People. For example, naturalizing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the countries where they reside today and have resided for decades.
Many believe that the portion of the "deal" that deals with Jerusalem will determine the intensity of Palestinian and Arabs resistance to it. The problem is that Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem, even if only over Abu Dis on the eastern outskirts of the city, will put the Trump administration at odds with its evangelical support base (which supports Israeli Sovereignty over all parts of the city). On the other hand, further US support for Israeli Sovereignty over Jerusalem will give the deal's opponents a rallying point for an all-out campaign against the deal.
"Apparently the situation is not so bad if, in light of what they describe as the 'second Nakba,' Hamas and Fatah can still not even manage to sit down together in the same room, not to mention form a unity government," says an Egyptian commentator.
The Palestinians aren't stupid and know that Netanyahu is counting on their traditional rejection in order to gain further advantages from the Trump administration, or at least achieve a better footing for Israel in any future agreement — on the ruins of past agreements, from President Clinton to Secretary of State Kerry. Yet, somehow, the Palestinians are still unable to say anything in unison.