RAMALLAH, August 23, 2018 - JMCC founder Ghassan Khatib, writes in World Press Review, that the Trump administration seems to have adopted Israel’s unilateral approach to the conflict, trying to force through aspects of its plan gradually rather than using bilateral or multilateral diplomacy.
First, the administration conceded to illegal Israeli settlement expansion by ending previous U.S. opposition to the confiscation of Palestinian land and the construction of new Jewish settlements in the heart of the West Bank. Second, it sought to unilaterally predetermine the future of Jerusalem by recognizing it as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv. That was a violation of the American commitment that negotiations would determine Jerusalem’s future, made during the landmark signing of the Oslo Accord on Sept. 13, 1993, on the White House lawn.
Palestinians have widely interpreted the Trump administration’s decision to halt most U.S. funding for the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency—the only U.N. organization mandated to provide relief to millions of Palestinian refugees—as one more unilateral step toward circumventing the rights of Palestinians, instead of addressing them in negotiations with Israel. UNRWA finances most health care and education services in 58 refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. The agency was already in a financial crisis, and if it is unable to provide needed food aid or to open schools, further instability is likely.
Finally, the Trump administration is trying to implement Netanyahu’s so-called regional approach by unsuccessfully wooing Arab countries to establish normal relations with Israel, despite the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights.