Jared Kushner’s ‘Deal of the Century’ seeks to make matters worse for the Palestinians, going by publicized leaked details of it. It also has another purpose, one easily recognizable for those who accurately scrutinized past Israel-Palestine ‘peace deals’. This is to give the impression of Israel’s regional ties ‘normalizing’ and encourage the masses to once again believe there is some semblance of a ‘peace process’ underway.
What this deception achieves is to draw focus away from Israel’s wars and long-term strategic policies. In this, the ‘Deal’ evokes memories of the once-hailed 1979 Camp David Accords and the stark contrast the optimism they generated in some quarters bore with the actual geopolitical conflagrations Israel became the root of during and after Israel and Egypt signed the ‘peace deal’.
Clipping Egypt’s wings under the guise of a ‘peace deal’
The 1979 Camp David Accords mediated by then US President Jimmy Carter between Israel and Egypt followed Egypt and Syria’s respectable performance in the 1973 War where they tried to take back territories Israel annexed in the Six Day War of 1967. It saw Egypt recognize Israel in return for Israel handing back the Sinai region. Furthermore, since it was intended to set a precedent for future peace processes, it included vague ‘affirmations’ of the ‘legitimate rights of the Palestinians’ and proposed a transitional period phased out over 5 years to a situation, vaguely described again, of ‘full autonomy’ for them.
Camp David, as it was, merely represented Egypt officially throwing in the towel and becoming a non-player in affairs in the Arab world, as well as reliant on US economic aid stipulated upon its non-hostility to Israel. In exchange, Israel handed back territory it had stolen in the first place. Moreover, despite the ‘big plans’ the US had for the Middle East ‘peace process’, offered no concrete promises on moving toward a Two State Solution with Palestine.
Camp David also saw no demand made of Israel to halt its illegal Jewish-only settlement construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a key aspect of Israel’s racist state policy.
Despite Camp David neutralizing the largest Arab state as a rival to Israel and thus making Israel returning the Sinai less strategically perilous, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977-83) still loathed it all the same. According to some, it was his intransigence which stretched on the Camp David negotiations with Egypt to 13 days and he was not pleased with returning the Sinai.
The notorious Begin, former commander of the Zionist terrorist group Irgun which partook in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and was best known for the 22 July 1946 King David Hotel Bombing, considered any extent of ‘concessions’ to be too much.
The path Israel would embark on both during and after the Camp David process had materialized and been finalized would show very much, however, that peace was still a pipe dream.
Signing ‘peace’ with one hand, railroading the US into the Iran Contra Affair with the other
Carter’s rival in the 1980s Presidential Elections, Ronald Reagan, had a campaign team (and future government, when Reagan won) of special utility to Begin’s Israel. Once in government, figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, George Shultz, William Casey and Frank Gaffney would come handy to Israel due to their preference for its interests even where they tended to be damaging to the US.
Many were neoconservatives, a clique of dedicated Zionists who later compelled the US to hostility with Israeli enemies for strategic purposes they helped the Israelis devise.
The opportunity for Israel to manipulate US foreign policy in an even more forceful way was perfect, and ensuring Carter’s downfall was a shared objective for both Begin and Reagan.
However, the bigger objective for Israel – and the Reagan-team neoconservatives – was to deal damage to Israel’s long time adversary and foe of Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and attempt to get the new Iranian government to consider becoming a major ‘non-Arab’ ally. The latter did not work out, but adding to the destruction of the Iran-Iraq War definitely did.
As it turned out, Iran agreed little over a month after Saddam invaded it in September 1980 to the terms of a made-in-Israel deal secretly offered to it by Reagan’s campaign team; to release the 52 US Embassy hostages seized in Tehran a year ago only after Reagan had won and been sworn in, to prevent Carter securing a boost in votes in the November 1980 elections.
In return, the internationally isolated Iran would get third party-supplied US weapons sales to use against Iraq which the US was officially backing together with the Gulf Arabs (GCC). Indeed, promise of US support had egged Saddam on to invade Iran in the first place.
The impetus for this came from Israel and its secret services, the MOSSAD, who saw much strategic benefit to be gained out of Iran and Iraq’s hostilities. The domestic fallout for their ‘allies’ in the Reaganites in the US was not something they cared to consider, as is usually the case with Israel when it railroads the US into its chaotic geopolitics.
Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s president during the US presidential election, described the covert connections used to secure the arms-for-hostages arrangement. Banisadr, who fled Iran in July 1981 due to political strife, stated that the negotiators on behalf of Iran included exiles who had been involved with the Shah-era secret police, SAVAK, and were privy to its connections with Israeli military and intelligence figures.
Israeli ‘superspy’ David Kimche, former deputy chief of MOSSAD and a frequent visitor to Iran’s SAVAK during the Shah’s reign, effectively masterminded the arms-for-hostages strategy. Together with weapons dealers such as the Saudi Adnan Khashoggi and Israeli dealers Al Scwhimmer and General Yaakov Nimrodi (former MOSSAD station chief in Tehran during the Shah era and very close to SAVAK), Kimche masterminded the arms-for-hostages deal.
According to a 1988 article for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs by an Iranian contributor, unsympathetic to Khomeini, Nimrodi had already been selling arms to Iran of his own devices as early as November 1980 – that is, earlier than Reagan’s swearing in as US President in January of 1981 which was followed up by Iran’s subsequent release of the hostages.
The SAVAK and Iranian military – much of which was purged by the new clerical government in 1979 – had always been close during the Shah era to Israel and it was thus Israel who possessed and first used the necessary covert links to arrange for an arms pipeline to Iran from the US.
Another major conduit between the Reagan neocons before Reagan became president and Iran was Manouchehr Ghorbanifar. The wealthy Iranian exile and arms dealer was a MOSSAD agent. Additionally, he had also served as the original source for a famous media-disinformation campaign in 1981 which Israel set off against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. The story baselessly claimed Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi – an enemy of Israel and heavily targeted by Israel throughout the 80s – had dispatched assassins to infiltrate the US.
Ramping up tensions with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon
On 7 June 1981, Israeli warplanes destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak as it fought Iran using deadly US weaponry, false claiming that NPT signatory Iraq was posing a nuclear threat to non-NPT signatory Israel. Reagan condemned the attack but did little about it.
On 15 December 1981, in a move the UNSC condemned with Resolution 497, Israel’s Knesset declared it would apply its laws and jurisdiction on the Golan Heights it annexed from Syria in the 1967 War.
This provocative step against a major regional player in Syria did produce a reaction in the US, even if it was a weak one. In September 1982, as part of the ‘Reagan Plan’, the US began describing Israel’s settlements as an ‘obstacle to peace’, albeit not directly using the terms ‘illegal’ or ‘legal’ even while stating extra ones must be ceased.
An appetite for regional chaos that put the US to shame
While the US itself as a whole – both Israel-firster parts of the government and the career officials – were happy with the Iran-Iraq War, it and its GCC allies did not share Israel’s appetite for it elsewhere in the Arab world.
The Reagan Plan exemplified this. It sought to grant Palestinians in the West Bank autonomy under the governance of pro-West, pro-GCC Jordan. Despite such a Palestinian entity being surrounded by Israel on 3 sides, militarily defunct and no threat of consequence from the US for Israel’s non-abidance, Israel still spat in the plan’s face with its actions soon thereafter.
As has been the case throughout its history and remains the case today, Israel did not care for what the cooler heads in the US White House desired. It had its fifth columnists in the right places as it tends to have and it pursued its expansionist goals to the letter. Begin, of course, rejected the Reagan Plan and emphatically declared new settlements for the West Bank as well.
Invading and occupying Lebanon
Israel had invaded Lebanon in March 1978 with ‘Operation Litani’, to clear out Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) bases in Lebanon’s south up till the Litani River. However, the weak PLO was a lesser objective, and the freshwater of the river the greater one. Israel’s founding fathers, the leaders of transnational Zionism seeking a Jewish state in Palestine, had coveted the Litani River since as early as 1919 when they demanded it to be part of their Jewish state at the Paris Peace Conference.
With the PLO adhering to a US-mediated ceasefire effective since July 1981, Israel used false allegations of PLO attacks upon Israeli diplomatic staff in the UK to begin bombing Beirut, far beyond the Litani, in June 1982. Refugee camps and civilian areas were hit and Palestinians and Lebanese people murdered in large numbers.
Israel further refused to stop bombing western parts of Beirut so US military could oversee withdrawal of PLO forces there. The US military had already been called in following Israel’s 1978 attack to oversee shifting of the PLO’s command to Tunisia.
Notably, Iran Contra’s masterminds such as Kimche, Nimrodi and Schwimmer along with the Butcher of Beirut Ariel Sharon engineered the brutal war on Lebanon as well. They also attempted to foment an anti-Khomeini coup in Iran as per the wishes of Sharon in 1982, emphasizing how Iran was turning out too ambitious to be the ‘non-Arab ally’ for Israel.
Iran’s diplomatic staff in Syria in 1982 founded the lethal Shia Lebanese guerrilla force, Hezbollah, which proved solely responsible for ending Israel’s brutal occupation of Lebanon (1978-2000). In doing so, it also jeopardized Israel’s long-term plans to force reliance for Lebanon on Israeli exports and, more importantly, Israeli attempts to utilize the Litani as a water source. This factored into the abandonment of the notion Israel had regarding Iran becoming an ally, albeit Israel sold Iran US arms as long as the war with Iraq went on.
Kushner’s Deal and the flames of war behind it
Just as putting Egypt out of business meant Camp David enabling Israel’s off-the-rails aggression in the 1980s, Kushner’s Deal seeks to force the image of ‘normalcy’ coming to the Middle East. Simultaneously, Kushner and his fellow (huge and influential) Zionist network in US politics strive to assist Israel in its wars abroad still, many of which draw their immediate roots in what Israel did in the Camp David era.
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