A report published this week by the Israel Hayom newspaper apparently leaking details of Donald Trump's 'deal of the century' reads like the kind of peace plan
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A report published this week by the Israel Hayom newspaper apparently leaking details of Donald Trump's "deal of the century" reads like the kind of peace plan that might be put together by an estate agent or car salesman.
But while the authenticity of the document is unproven and indeed contested, there are serious grounds for believing it paves the direction of any future declaration by the Trump administration.
Not least, it is a synthesis of most of the Israeli right's ambitions for the creation of a Greater Israel, with a few sops to the Palestinians most of them related to partially relieving Israel's economic strangulation of the Palestinian economy.
This is exactly what Jared Kushner told us the "deal of the century" would look like in his preview last month.
Also significant is the outlet that published the leak: Israel Hayom. The Israeli newspaper is owned by Sheldon Adelson, a US casino billionaire who is one of the Republican party's chief donors and was a major contributor to Trump's presidential election campaign funds.
Adelson is also a stalwart ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His newspaper has served as little more than a mouthpiece for Netanyahu's ultra-nationalist governments over the past decade.
Adelson and Israel Hayom have ready access to key figures in both the US and Israeli administrations. And it has been widely reported that little of significance gets into print there unless it has first been approved by Netanyahu or its overseas owner.
The newspaper questioned the authenticity and credibility of the document, which has spread across social media platforms, even suggesting "it is quite possible the document is fake" and that the Israeli foriegn ministry was looking into it.
The White House had already indicated that, after long delays, it intended to finally unveil the "deal of the century" next month, after the holy Muslim month of Ramadan finishes.
An unnamed White House official told the paper the leak was "speculative" and "inaccurate" the kind of lacklustre denial that might equally mean the report is, in fact, largely accurate.
If the document is genuine, Netanyahu looks to be the most likely culprit behind the leak. He has overseen the foreign ministry for years and Israel Hayom is widely referred to by Israelis as "Bibiton", or Bibi's newspaper, employing the prime minister's nickname.Testing the waters
The alleged document, as published in Israel Hayom, would be catastrophically bad for the Palestinians. Assuming Netanyahu approved the document's leaking, his motives might not be too difficult to discern.
On one view, leaking it might be an effective way for Netanyahu and the Trump administration to test the waters, to fly a trial balloon to see whether they dare publish the document as it is, or need to make modifications.
But another possibility is that Netanyahu may have concluded that there could be an unwelcome price in publicly achieving most of what he is already gaining by stealth a price he may prefer to avoid for the time being.
Is the leak designed to foment pre-emptive opposition to the plan, both from within Israel and from the Palestinians and the Arab world, in the hope of stymieing its release?
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