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'Deal of the Century' dissected: The end of the two-state farce

  • Dr Sami A Al-Arian
  • 4 Feb 2020

There is not a single extremist Israeli position which the US has not adopted or embraced in its so-called 'peace plan'.

US President Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference announcing the 'peace plan' to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ( AP )

Lenin once said that “there are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” 

In the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there have been some weeks where history changed its course including the summer of 1948 where the Palestinian Nakba tragically befell the Palestinian people with the loss of 78 percent of the historical land of Palestine to the Zionist movement, along with the exile of over 80 percent of its people.

Another was in the summer of 1967 when the remainder of Palestine was militarily occupied and colonised.

Subsequently, the Palestinian national movement after decades of struggle and resistance signed an interim agreement (the Oslo accords) with Israel in September 1993 based on UN resolutions 242 and 338, which called on Israel to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders, in return for Palestinian recognition of the Israeli state on the territories it occupied in 1948.

The Oslo agreement had called for a period of five years, where the so-called final status issues would be negotiated between the two parties under US mediation.

As the five years were extended to over a quarter-century without settling any of the final status issues, most fair-minded political observers would agree that the main stumbling block to any political settlement was due to the intransigence of Israeli leaders who had created one obstacle after another to expand colonies (settlements) in the midst of the Palestinian designated areas and thereby block the emergence of a Palestinian State.

What Trump and his zealously Zionist team did in their so-called “Deal of the Century” was to embrace the bizarre positions of Netanyahu and Israeli extremists groups with regard to all final status issues. That position officially kills the prospect of any possibility of a two-state solution that would have given the Palestinians a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, as mandated in many UN Security Council resolutions including 242 and 338.

So what are the final status issues that Trump’s deal preempted and destroyed?

Jerusalem

Trump, in favour of Israel, had unilaterally decided the status of Jerusalem on December 6, 2017. He had effectively removed it from the negotiations process when he recognised the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and subsequently moved the US embassy the following year.

The current plan has further consolidated this position by depriving the Palestinians of any rights to their Muslim and Christian holy places and neighbourhoods. To add insult to injury and in a complete disregard to millions of Palestinians and hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims, Trump designated some Palestinian villages east of Jerusalem and called on the Palestinians to collectively name them “Al-Quds”, the Arabic name for Jerusalem, as if renaming some places “Jerusalem” would replace some of the holiest shrines on earth for Muslims and Christians.

Refugees and Right of Return

The Palestinians who were uprooted since 1948 from their homeland by Israel outside historical Palestine, number today over seven million. The Geneva conventions, as well as successive UN resolutions including UN Security Council resolution 194, have called for their right of return to their land.

Trump’s plan, however, has precluded this right and called for the Palestinian refugees to be settled elsewhere without even mentioning any liability on the part of the Zionist state, It offers no compensation for their suffering as other peace plans had called for in the past. 

Trump’s plan states that after all the issues dictated in this document are settled, Israel may initiate a separate mechanism to demand compensation for the Jews who had left Arab lands to Palestine after Israel’s founding in 1948.

Settlements and borders

The Trump plan is so one-sided that it gives Israel the right to annex all the colonies that have been constructed in the heart of the West Bank since 1967, as it also precludes the removal of any Israeli settler.

Such an extremist position makes it impossible to have a contiguous Palestinian state without resorting to tricks and fictitious ideas of building side roads, tunnels, and bridges, which would be under the total control of Israel for the sake of accommodating illegal Israeli colonisers. 

The plan also allows Israel to annex not only all the settlement blocks — even those that are deep into the heart of the Palestinian communities in the West Bank — but also the Jordan Valley, thus depriving the Palestinians of any meaningful entity or a border with Jordan.

State and sovereignty

Furthermore, the deal gives Israel not only the settlement blocks, and the Jordan Valley Netanyahu and the Israeli right have been coveting, but also total control over the air space of all Palestinian territories, the territorial waters of Gaza, the control over the borders with Egypt and Jordan, and even Palestinian immigration policy - all in the name of security.

In other words, the plan denies this truncated future “state” of all the required political definition of an actual state. It is in fact nothing short of an apartheid regime, similar if not worse than South Africa’s Bantustans.

But even that mini “state” is not guaranteed. While Israel pockets all the goodies Trump bequeathed it, he imposes harsh conditions on the Palestinians to prove that they are worthy of having this political non-state state.

For example, the Palestinian negotiators (it’s not clear what they would negotiate since Trump and Israel have already determined all the issues) have to meet certain conditions for Israel to negotiate with them their surrender and complete capitulation including that the negotiating team is acceptable to Israel; that the Palestinian Authority takes full control over Gaza; that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are completely disarmed and get no political status until they unequivocally recognise the Zionist state as a Jewish state; that Gaza is demilitarised - but even after all that is done then another condition is placed where the Palestinian Authority would have to take steps to Israeli satisfaction by dealing effectively with “ideologies that reject Israel”, an impossible task considering having to police people’s thoughts or religious and political beliefs.

Normalisation

The document calls for complete and immediate recognition by the Arab states and the Muslim world to not only recognise Israel as a Jewish state but embrace it and implicitly incorporate it in a new security structure that targets Iran. 

The deal also calls for complete normalisation between the Arab states and Israel before even withdrawing from Palestinian lands or establishing a Palestinian state as the Arab Peace Initiative had called for in 2002.

To demonstrate this normalisation process, three Arab states were represented in this ceremony, namely the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and Egypt released statements that effectively called on the Palestinians to accept it.

In essence, Trump has demanded that America’s regional client states expose themselves to the point of renouncing any notion of supporting Palestinian ambitions or aspirations, which is a complete turn-around of decades of declared positions and policies.

Buried in the document was also a call on the states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to permanently settle all Palestinian refugees around the world to relieve Israel from any responsibility of their right of return. The OIC has already rejected the deal and called on member states not to even engage with the plan or cooperate with the US administration in this regard.

In essence, Trump’s plan was so extremist in its conceptual framework, it did not spare a single extreme position of the Israeli right that it has not adopted or embraced. Even Israeli narratives with regard to past events or on the status of Jerusalem was incorporated in the document. 

To justify its new policy of allowing Israeli colonies to be annexed, the document stated that Israel had legal and historical claims in the West Bank since Jews had lived there before the Babylonian exile.

So what are the Palestinians getting in return?

In his presentation, Trump stated — as well as his son-in-law in subsequent interviews, the chief architect of this plan, Jared Kushner — that what the Palestinians would receive in this plan (as long as they accept it and behave accordingly) is economic aid to the tune of $50 billion over ten years.

Last June in Bahrain, the details of this economic plan were announced. But the bulk of financing would be done by Arab Gulf countries, while the US contribution would be $6 billion over ten years.

However, the total amount given to the Palestinians would be $27 billion while the rest would be distributed to Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. This amount would actually be a discount on how much the US has been doling out since 1993 to prop up the Palestinian Authority security forces to protect the Zionist state.

The plan also calls for the abolishment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organisation that has been providing relief since 1951 to millions of Palestinian refugees to the tune of $1.3 billion annually.

Hence, the Trump plan was nothing but an attempt at liquidating the Palestinian cause to the benefit of extremist Israeli groups to give the pretext for Netanyahu to annex part of the West Bank, expand existing settlements to win the next elections in March, and escape a possible prison sentence for his corruption charges.

There are many ways to defeat this dangerous plan. But one of the most effective ways is for the Palestinians in the West Bank to reignite a new Intifada (uprising) against the military occupation, which would incur a massive cost and deem the West Bank ungovernable and damaging.

Since 1987, Israel had to face two uprisings that effectively demoralised its soldiers, compromised its economy, and punctured its image around the world.

In the long run, the Trump plan, which sanctioned an Israeli policy that has been implemented on the ground for over two decades, has put the world on notice. The illusion of a two-state solution is gone.

Since the world has awakened to the harsh reality of Israeli hegemonic and exclusivist behaviour, the choices have become very clear: either to live with an apartheid state and answer to all the moral dilemmas it portends, or end the racist regime the Palestinians have been forced to live under for decades.

In its place, there must be a new regime where Palestinians’ rights are restored, and where justice, freedom, equality, and human dignity are supreme.  

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

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