The deal is all

Summary: in the dying days of the Trump White House, another Arab state recognises Israel in a win for the president that will have consequences his successor will have to deal with.

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3 thoughts on “The deal is all”

  1. The similarities between the West Sahara and Palestine are numerous, both theoretically and practically. The Sahrawis have had some success – albeit in the courts of their backer South Africa – for their version of BDS (e.g. That is one aspect where UAE, KSA could demonstrate the claim that the Abraham Accords enables them to push for a resolution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
    Alastair asks “so why not do the recognition thing?” One major reason is the population: M6 (Morocco’s King Mohammed VI) would bestow full Moroccan citizenship on the Sahrawis. The (Jewish) Israelis do not want any more Arab citizens of Israel, yet they would be unlikely to get away with ethnic cleansing again these days. Possibly to avoid that issue, “Netanyahu says Palestinians in annexed lands will be under Israeli control while being denied citizenship” ( That is perfectly feasible (numerous foreigners own and enjoy property abroad.) Ironically, however, that suggestion completely undermines the “demographic timebomb” argument for permitting the Palestinians to return to – and have returned – their private property within Israel, while retaining Palestinian citizenship. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave ….”!

  2. The quid pro quo of recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara has serious implications for other theatres. Most important, it confirms the logic of countenancing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank despite UN Resolution 242. We may add to that Turkey’s military invasion and seizure of Northern Cyprus, Russia’s invasion and occupation of the Crimea, and, potentially, a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. All such actual or possible acquisitions of territory by military force would seem to have as much or more legal justification as Morocco’s claims to the Western Sahara. John Waterbury

    1. Not only do I agree with John Waterbury about the relevance of the Trump administration’s recognition of Morocco’s claim to Western Sahara to Israel’s possible annexation of swathes of the West Bank, I do wonder if this may be one more (possibly final) step towards US recognition of those parts Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to seize as being part of Israel. As I posted on the Arab Digest Facebook page immediately after Michael Pompeo’s settlement visit in November:
      “Experts have for some weeks been considering what a defeated President Donald Trump might do on the international stage to make Joe Biden’s job even more difficult than it is going to be in any case. We are already seeing some evidence that such concerns are justified in the form of the acceleration in the US military withdrawal from both Afghanistan and Iraq (which, to be fair to Mr Trump, is entirely consistent with his 2016 campaign promises). So, we should certainly not dismiss speculation that he might just recognise swathes of the West Bank as being sovereign Israeli territory before he goes. And especially not in the light of this visit by Michael Pompeo (who, let’s recall, is a very committed Evangelical, like Mike Pence, and who would almost certainly personally welcome such a move).
      Those more expert than I can comment on why Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet fulfilled his pre-election commitment to annex parts of the West Bank. But my understanding is that, in part at least, he may have been kept in check by Jared Kushner’s belief that the status quo could be used as leverage to get the Palestinians to sign up to the so-called ‘deal of the century’. That deal was always unlikely to happen in any case. But with Messrs Trump and Kushner no longer in power, it is clearly a total non-starter even to them; so why not do the recognition thing?”

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