The plan throws global diplomatic conventions out the window and opens the door for a future where only might is right.
President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled “peace plan” is the latest reminder that he wants to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if it were some Manhattan real estate deal.
The proposal for “ending” this conflict set forth by Trump and others in his inner circle—notably his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner—flies in the face of international law and the international community’s consensus on the Palestinian question.
Written out in a 181-page document released by the White House on January 28, Trump’s plan offers the Palestinians no sovereign state, leaves an apartheid system in place, and seeks to legitimise Israel’s control of land annexed in the 1967 war.
Since Trump’s administration presented this “peace plan”, Kushner and others in the White House have been busy hailing this “deal of the century” as a historic chance for Israelis and Palestinians to move past decades of violent conflict and enter a new period of peace and prosperity.
Yet below all the flowery rhetoric about supposed golden opportunities for Palestinians, this plan further reinforces the fact that Trump’s administration would never push for anything that did not align with the interests of Israel’s far-right government.
A few facts illustrate the extent to which the plan is simply a non-starter.
The “deal” gives the Palestinians none of Jerusalem, although it lets them have some suburbs of the city that Palestinians can identify as “Jerusalem” if they choose to do so.
Issues such as the fate of Palestinian refugees, borders, Israeli settlements in occupied land, etc. are entirely resolved in Israel’s favour under Trump’s proposal. Another non-starter of this “deal” is that it calls for disarming groups in Gaza — namely Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — while Israel, of course, remains the most powerful military in the Middle East.
This plan basically gives the Palestinians a “take it or leave it offer” that would entail their full surrender and acceptance of a future basically in an Israeli high-tech prison without any rights.
Nonetheless, observers of Trump’s foreign policy should not have been surprised by this “peace plan”, which was essentially a bilateral accord between an impeached American president and an indicted Israeli prime minister.
The optics at the White House when Trump unveiled his administration’s “deal of the century” spoke volumes about how this administration conducts US foreign policy in the Middle East. With Sheldon and Miriam Adelson near Trump as he and Netanyahu announced the US administration’s plan, it was quite obvious that Trump is determined to keep his billionaire donors pleased.
It is essential to see Trump’s “peace plan” in a historical context, taking into account (in)actions on the part of past administrations. Double-speak from presidents Obama, Bush 41 and 43, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, and Johnson always entailed official condemnation of Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land accompanied by Washington’s full diplomatic, political, economic, and military backing for Israel as its settlements kept on expanding.
Such high-levels of support kept the Israelis protected from accountability as their theft of Palestinian land continued.
At the end of the day, this administration’s Israel-Palestine policies are a natural outcome of the policies implemented by Trump’s predecessors, which incentivised Israel to further colonise Palestinian territories.
For decades, the Israeli settlement enterprise has grown to the point that fully paved the road for Trump’s “deal”, which primarily aims to merely consolidate Israeli control over land that the Palestinians have sovereign rights to under international law.
What drove Trump to unveil this plan — and to do so with Netanyahu endorsing it by his side at the White House — was the domestic politics of the US and Israel, where Netanyahu has his upcoming re-election to face.
The announcement serves to give both Trump and Netanyahu something that can further distract the American and Israeli public from the impeachment saga in Washington as well as the Israeli head of state’s serious legal woes.
January 28, 2020, will go down in history as an important day for the US-Israel relationship. It marked a US administration’s brazen endorsement of Israeli policies aimed at humiliating and dehumanising Palestinians into capitulation.
The “deal of the century”, more accurately described as a “farce of a plan” or a “con”, might be music to ears of right-wing Israelis as it serves to solidify apartheid in Palestine. But it is naive and dangerous to believe that this plan could ever lead to peace.
By requiring Palestinians to abandon their dreams and aspirations for freedom and dignity in exchange for some money that will presumably come from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the “deal” does not account for the need for justice. Without any doubt, justice is always a prerequisite for lasting peace anywhere in the world.
Also disturbing are the international precedents which Trump and his son-in-law will establish with this ludicrous proposal. With the US leadership endorsing the idea of militarily powerful countries forcefully annexing territory from weaker neighbours in a “might is right” system, the norms of international law are under attack by the most powerful actor in the global arena.
If other powers choose to usurp control of land outside of their UN-recognised borders, the Trump-Kushner plan can be pointed to in defence of such future territorial conquests, not only in the Middle East but across the world.
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