The possibility of Israel and Saudi Arabia doing a peace deal rests on the shoulders of one man - Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS).
MBS has to clarify whether any peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia is dependent solelyon a Palestinian State being created between Israel and Jordan - by answering this one question:
Will Israel's agreement to implement the 2022 Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine Solution (HKOPS) - rather than the 2002 Saudi Arabia-Arab Peace Initiative– enable you to commence negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to conclude a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia?
If MBS answers "Yes": An Israel-Saudi Arabia peace deal is highly possible. If MBS answers "No": why is HKOPS unacceptable?
HKOPS is the revolutionary and circuit-breaking solution that burst onto the international stage on 8 June 2022. It calls for merger of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Gaza and part of the West Bank into one territorial entity to be named the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine with its capital being located in Amman – not Jerusalem.
Authored by a confidante of MBS – Ali Shihabi – HKOPS was first published in the Saudi Government-controlled Al Arabiya News. The solution was amended shortly thereafter but surprisingly was not published in Al Arabiya News or any other Saudi news outlet.
Amazingly HKOPS has received virtually:
- no mention in the international media
- no analysis by international analysts or think tanks and
- no acknowledgement at the United Nations as an alternative solution to replace the failed two-state solution adopted by Security Council Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016
This international silence has been all the more difficult to comprehend since HKOPS:
- Declared Israel a reality firmly implanted on the ground that has to be accepted, however grudgingly, by the region around it.
- Stated the Palestinian problem could only be solved if it was redefined to be not so much about the ownership of ancestral land but more about the critical need to have a legal identity-a globally respected citizenship that allows a person to operate in the modern world – where Labor in this day and age is mobile and having citizenship in a country that facilitates such mobility is critical to human development.
- Granted the Arab populations of Gaza and the West Bank citizenship in the newly-created territorial entity
- Proposed that Palestinians in Arab countries like Lebanon could become citizens of the enlarged kingdom while also getting full residency rights in Lebanon, equivalent to what an EU citizen has in the European Union outside his or her home country.
- Promised that Jerusalem would become the sole capital of Israel if HKOPS was implemented - with the Hashemites retaining control of the Islamic Holy Sites in Jerusalem
- Recognized that the remainder of the West Bank would become part of Israel
- Trashed Saudi-Arab League policy that had for the previous 20 years called for the creation of an independent Palestinian State in all of the West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital
MBS – and the leaders of the parties most affected by HKOPS – Jordan's King Abdullah, PLO President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh – have not raised any objections to the implementation of HKOPSto resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the 14 months since HKOPS publication.
Before anyone gets too carried away with the current discussions between Washington, Riyadh and Jerusalem - MBS needs to come clean and unambiguously confirm he will attempt to negotiate a peace deal with Netanyahu if Netanyahu agrees to implement HKOPS to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
MBS needs to take ownership of HKOPS to see the unresolved 100 years-old Jewish-Arab conflict finally ended.
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