The trajectory of US policy towards the Palestinians, already deferential to Israeli interests, has lost any semblance of partiality.
Donald Trump’s proposed plan to resolve the longstanding Israeli occupation of Palestine has once again shaken the political kaleidoscope in the US as well as Middle Eastern politics.
The "win-win" decision described by Trump was roundly condemned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a “conspiracy” against the Palestinian people.
Yet more than 29 years ago George H W Bush withheld loans from Israel unless it promised to come to the negotiating table and curtail illegal settlement construction. Trump’s approach, however, sets the US on a publically different course.
The acceptance and legalisation of Israeli colonial expansion will, in time, enshrine a new political benchmark for US politics with Trump as the flag bearer.
Since the beginning of his term in 2016, Trump has not hidden his intentions to shape the region and in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a manner that tilts the scales decisively in favour of Israel.
In the process, the trajectory of US policy towards the Palestinians, already deferential to Israeli interests, has lost any semblance of partiality.
First came the recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel in December 2017 and then in March 2019, the US proceeded to recognise the occupied Golan heights.
Both announcements have marked a departure from the public rhetoric of US policy. In private, however, George W Bush junior in 2004 had conceded to Ariel Sharon that illegal settlements would be part of a future solution.
Critically Trump’s public endorsements have broken a taboo in US politics and strengthened the Israeli occupation.
Future presidential contenders will have to answer questions on whether they are against current official US policy on Jerusalem, Golan Heights and settlements. For many future contenders, anything short of an endorsement of such policies may have to face the wrath of the powerful Jewish lobby group AIPAC.
Liberal Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders warned that any “acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN resolutions.”
Sanders is not considered as speaking for official Democratic policy and many doubt his ability to become president on a socialist ticket.
Joe Biden, the front runner in the Democratic primary, was more circumspect saying, “A peace plan requires two sides to come together. This is a political stunt that could spark unilateral moves to annex territory and set back peace even more. I’ve spent a lifetime working to advance the security & survival of a Jewish and democratic Israel. This is not the way.”
Biden’s record, however, is not promising. When he was asked if he would reverse Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, he said “Not now. I wouldn't reverse it.”
Trump’s normalisation of politically undesirable policies is slowly but surely creating a new normative standard in US politics irrespective of whether the world accepts his decision or not.
As for Israel, the country is accustomed to non-recognition of its illegal actions and has the strategic patience to wait for controversial decisions taken today to be considered normal tomorrow.