Trump's “Deal of the century:” Another one hundred years of injustice in Palestine?
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk in the midst of a joint news conference on a new Middle East peace plan proposal - Photo: Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

Trump's “Deal of the century:” Another one hundred years of injustice in Palestine?

07/02/2020
16:45
Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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The “deal of the century” announced last week pretending to offer a solution to the Palestinian legitimate aspirations has been widely rejected by the international community

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If there is a place on Earth where United States interference is still so pervasive and nefarious it is the Middle East, the Levant in particular, where the “deal of the century” announced last week pretending to offer a solution to the Palestinian legitimate aspirations has been widely rejected by the international community.

Quite rightly, observers have compared U.S. President Donald Trump’s vision of peace” in the region, masterminded by his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, with the infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration lying at the root of the conflict, since the plan blatantly ignores the Palestinian historic demands to the extent that the internationally recognized Arab people representatives—the Palestinian Authority (PA)—were not consulted during its elaboration.

What are the main points from Trump’s peace deal, immediately applauded by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Essentially, the 181-page document that was worked out in the last two years provides the entirety of an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital. An eventual State of Palestine, without a date of proclamation, would get a few neighborhoods in far eastern Jerusalem, despite the fact that United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 condemns Israel’s decision to annex East Jerusalem as a violation of international law, and calls for a political solution.

The “historic breakthrough” claimed by Washington also discards the right of return for nearly seven million Palestinians and their families, forced out of their ancestral homes during the 1948 war which led to the formation of Israel.

Instead, the plan calls for the absorption of refugees into the eventual State of Palestine, their integration in current host countries (Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon), and the distribution of 50,000, for up to ten years, in Organization of Islamic Cooperation member nations who agree to participate in the deal.

The plan redraws borders, giving Israel more land in the PA-controlled West Bank, in exchange for “land swaps” that include two areas in the Negev Desert.

While the 15 Israeli settlements contemplated in the proposal, as well as other smaller colonies, are illegal under international law and are not considered part of Israel itself,  this country would take control of the Jordan River Valley, which runs along the eastern edge of the West Bank, the heavily Palestinian-populated area taken by Israel in 1967, marking its boundary with Jordan.

Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, new blow to peace in the Middle East

The maps in the plan detail a patchwork of Palestinian towns surrounded by Israeli territory linked one to another by a series of Israeli-controlled bridges, tunnels—including one of nearly 80km between Hebron and Gaza,—and roads. There are also five areas inside the alleged Palestinian territory that are marked as “strategic sites.”

In addition, the document reads, Palestine “will not have the right to forge military, intelligence or security agreements with any state of organization that adversely affect” Israel, “as determined by the State of Israel.”

Total control

Every border, access to the Mediterranean Sea, the airspace, aquifers, and electromagnetic spectrum will be controlled by Israel, who would be recognized by the Palestinians as a “Jewish state,” relegating Israeli Palestinians citizens to a second-class status.

As expected, PA president Mahmoud Abbas, the Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the Islamic Jihad militia underscored that the proposal would never be accepted. “We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘deal of the century,’” remarked Abbas, labeling it as “the slap of the century.”

He added that “Jerusalem is not for sale. Will we accept a state without Jerusalem? It is impossible for any Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or Christian child to accept that.”

In the same vein, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterrez, said the position of the world body on the two-state solution “has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound.”

Guterrez himself declared to The New Arab that the United Nations message is clear: “Any plan must align with UN and UNSC resolutions and secure the approval of all parties involved. Our position has not changed.”

However, the U.S. is formalizing the “facts on the ground” imposed by years of occupation and wars in spite of a “peace process” started in the 70s, which led to historical milestones such as the creation of the PA following the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Trump and Netanyahu have accelerated this policy, due to external and internal factors in their respective countries that we will address below, after highlighting the previous stages, as the U.S. recognition last year of the Golan Heights as part of Israel; this strategic Syrian area was also occupied in 1967 and later Israel annexed it, in a move not accepted by the international community.

Also in 2019, the U.S. reverted its long standing legal opinion considering Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal; Trump ordered to close the Palestinian mission in Washington, and stopped aid for Palestinian refugees, while in 2017 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Besides the close personal relationship between Trump and Netanyahu, which has influenced U.S. policy decisions on a wide variety of topics ranging from the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani to the prohibition of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) in several U.S. states, the White House has tried to underpin the Israeli prime minister position, beset by corruption, fraud, breach of public trust, and bribery charges that are threatening his reelection in March 2020.

Regarding the domestic front, Trump, who emerged victorious from the Democratic-led impeachment fiasco, is acting in accordance with the surge in pro-Israel sentiment among Republicans over the past decades.

Gallup polling shows that in 1988, 47% of Republicans and 42% of Democrats took Israel’s side in the Levant conflict. As of March 2019, that figure is similar for Democrats (43%) yet is much higher for Republicans (76%), affirmed Vox.

Members from U.S. right-wing evangelical groups have even coined the term “Christian Zionist” to reflect their unconditional support to Israel; among its leaders are Vice President Mike Pence and State Secretary Mike Pompeo, not to mention major campaign fundraiser and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in the Jewish community.

Within this group, Kushner stands out for his own merits: his real estate company received a USD $30 million investment from Menora Mivtachim—one of Israel’s largest financial institutions—just before he accompanied Trump on his first diplomatic trip to Israel in 2019.

Previously, U.S. media reported that the Kushners had teamed up with a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family to buy nearly USD $200 million of Manhattan apartment buildings, as well as to build a luxury rental tower in New Jersey. Kushner’s firm has also taken out four loans from Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim, which is the subject of a Justice Department investigation over allegations that it helped wealthy Americans evade taxes.

Not only that, but the Kushner family foundation keeps donating money to a settlement group in the West Bank, whose annexation could be a matter of months in light of the Palestinian opposition to Trump’s peace plan.

The Israeli army announced on Thursday it was sending additional troops to the region, after the increase in violence that has left more than three Palestinians dead and dozens of wounded in the last 72 hours.

According to Kushner himself and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the move, which is likely to provoke more instability, could take place following the March 2 legislative elections clarifying Netanyahu’s political future.

Nevertheless, the expansionist policy enjoys full consensus within Israel’s political establishment. “CentristBlue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, who was unable to form a governing coalition after the September 2019 elections, has pledged to strengthen the settlements in the West Bank, although he said he would support Trump’s peace plan only with the agreement of the international community.

More than a “vision” of peace, the “deal of the century” repeats the mistakes arising from arrogance, racism, and disregard for the rights of Palestine committed in the Balfour Declaration, issued by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour with his priorities dictated by London’s postwar imperialist interests.

Distributing the spoils from the moribund Ottoman Empire, Balfour bet on U.S. support for the Allied powers in World War I, as well as the creation of a Jewish “national home” that would help to secure Britain’s strategy in the eastern Mediterranean region.

“In Palestine—he said—we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the inhabitants of their wishes. Zionism is of far greater importance than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that land.”

Editing by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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