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Monday, 3 June 2019

Is The Donald about to ask Egypt to give up part of Sinai to the Palestinians under his ‘Mideast’ peace plan?

Is The Donald about to ask us to give up part of Sinai to the Palestinians under his ‘Mideast’ peace plan? For two decades now, we have scoffed at conspiracy theories that claimed unnamed nefarious (usually American) forces were plotting to dismember Egypt. It’s the stuff of the tin-foil-hat brigade. But the Palestinians now claim that Trump’s plan would do just that, only on a slightly smaller scale.

Trump “envisages an expansion of Gaza into part of northern Egypt, under Egyptian control,” Reuters reports, citing an unnamed Palestinian official who claims to have been briefed on the plan. “Palestinians would be left with a smaller share of the West Bank and some areas on the outskirts of Jerusalem and no control over their borders. Western and Arab sources confirmed the outline of the plan.”

That can’t be real … right? Jason Greenblatt, “Trump’s Middle East envoy, said ‘rumours’ about an expansion into Egypt’s Sinai desert were false,” Reuters adds.

But the Palestinians are adamant that it is: “The essential part is Gaza: where 2 million Palestinians are shut into a strip between Israel and Egypt,” Reuters continues. “The idea is to expand it into the north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, creating an area where Palestinians can live and work under Egyptian control. ‘The plan envisions Gaza stretching from Rafah (its southern border) to El Arish and some parts of Sinai. This area will be a Palestinian expansion in which Palestinians can reside,’ the Palestinian leader said.” Reuters claims that “Western and Arab sources confirmed the outline of the plan.”

Why it’ll never happen: You thought folks kicked up a fuss about the return of a couple of specks of rock in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia?

The timing of the leak is interesting, in that it gives 100 mn of us to the west of Gaza all of Eid to mull it over…

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is pouring cold water on the reports, saying last night that Egypt would never do anything against the interests of the Palestinians and hinting, “You are asking what’s the story and what does Sisi have in mind, and will he give up anything to anyone. … Can you imagine that I would give something up?”

Would you trust this guy to sell you a peace plan? Axios is teasing a TV interview it has filmed with Jared Kushner (the architect of the ‘peace plan’ and The Donald’s son-in-law). Worthy excerpts: He’s uncertain the Palestinians can govern themselves and he has a really weird way of saying the facts of the plan will (eventually) speak for themselves.

When will we know more? The plan is set to be released in late June, likely at (or in the run-up to) a US conference on the ‘economic dimension’ of Trump’s Mideast peace plan in Bahrain, set to run 25-26 June.

Not enough drama for you? Go read Companies in Middle East on war footing as tension rises in the Financial Times. We hope we’re not whistling past the grave here, but … really?

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