Will Arabs accept what Ottomans rejected on Palestine?


Veteran Lebanese politician Walid Joumblatt has drawn a comparison between the reaction of the Ottoman empire to an offer by Jewish politician Theodor Herzl to buy the Palestinian land and the Arab reaction to a U.S. back-channel Middle East plan known as “deal of the century”.

“During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Herzl asked to buy Palestine in order to send the Jews there, but the Sultan rejected [the offer],” Joumblatt, the leader of the Druze community in Lebanon, said on Twitter on Wednesday.

“Today in Bahrain, [senior U.S. adviser] Jared Kushner, the grandson of Herzl, will ask the Arabs to sell out Palestine to transfer its people to Jordan, Sinai, Lebanon, Syria and the diaspora,” he said.

“Will the Arabs accept what the Ottomans rejected?” he asked.

A U.S.-led conference opened in Bahrain on Tuesday, during which U.S. officials are expected to unveil the economic portion of the “deal of the century” plan.

During his opening speech, Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law described the peace plan as “the opportunity of the century” and not just the “deal of the century”.

The Palestinians have decried the two-day event as an attempt to undermine their struggle for liberation of the decades-long Israeli occupation.

Herzl (1860-1904) was the founder of the modern Zionist movement, which promoted Jewish immigration to Palestine with a view to establishing a Jewish state there.

On June 28, 1890, Sultan Abdul Hamid II issued a sultanate decree forbidding the accommodation of the Zionists in the Shahan kingdoms (Ottoman lands) and returning them to the places from where they came.

According to the decree, the Sultan forbade the sale of Ottoman land, especially to the Jews of Palestine, and set up a special police unit to implement these orders.

Last week, the White House called for $50 billion in investment for Palestine and neighboring Arab states as part of the plan, which calls for increased infrastructure projects between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with a stated goal to “empower” the Palestinian people.

The “deal of the century” has yet to be revealed in full, however, based on leaks in the media, it envisages to make major concessions to Israel regarding the status of Jerusalem city and also regarding right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East dispute, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian-Israeli negotiations collapsed in April 2014 after Israel refused to stop settlement activity, accept a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, and release Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails.

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