Ramallah, January 30, 2020 - The unveiling of the long-awaited American “peace plan”—the “Deal of the Century”
—did not produce any surprises for Palestinians. In fact, the document appeared to us to be a compilation of the positions adopted by the U.S. administration since President Donald Trump’s election.
Or, one could say that it reads rather like an English translation of right-wing Israeli rhetoric hurled at Palestinians ad nauseam: occupied East Jerusalem is to remain part of Israel, no evacuation of illegal Jewish settlements, no withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, no return of refugees—not even one!—and the creation of an abortive Palestinian entity that has no control over its borders, air space, or an armed force.
Israeli PM Benjamin
Netanyahu, adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. President Donald Trump at the King David hotel in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO
Indeed, it does not even read like a peace plan, not only because one party to the conflict has already rejected it outright and refused the author’s mediation, but because it deviates entirely from international legitimacy and United Nations resolutions.
What seems to be the “magic” in the plan is that it simple makes legal all of the unlawful practices of the Israeli occupation—legitimizing land confiscation, granting settlers the right to live in occupied territory, normalizing the law of the occupier in occupied lands, even giving the green light to annexation, etc.
This should pose a question to the rest of the international community: is such gaslighting acceptable in international politics and the resolution of conflict?
The United States and Israel have failed to convince any significant member of the international community to endorse this plan. Regardless of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s propaganda that he has improved Israel’s relations with a number of Arab states, the vast majority of Arab ambassadors in Washington appear to have rejected the administrations’ invitation to the plan’s launch event at the White House. Only three Arab states (two of them extremely marginal) showed up.
In addition, the leaders of the European Union, the UK, and Russia and many other key countries have all expressed reservations and reiterated their positions—underscoring the plan’s lack of international support.
One might say instead that the launch looked more like a campaign event than one for making peace. The timing of the proposal—in the works now for three years—seems to be entirely related to the internal political needs of both Netanyahu and Trump than anything else. Netanyahu, who faces serious leadership challenges as Israel heads to its third election in a year and was indicted on corruption charges just today, is in need of a strong boost from his ally in Washington. In return, Trump is hoping to increase his support from friends of Israel in the U.S., both Jewish hard-liners and evangelical Christians, as he weathers the impeachment process and campaigns to win again in 2020.
Palestinians, whom have never been so united, are not shaken by this plan. In fact, they do not expect any dramatic consequences resulting from it, except an increase in Israel’s appetite for violating Palestinian rights. There is a deep conviction here in Palestine that the struggle against occupation is not going to be determined by plans and proposals, but rather by the struggle on the ground. We are an occupied people holding tight to our land and standing steadfast upon it, while Israeli forces consolidate the illegal occupation.
The only real casualty of this plan and the strengthened alliance between Netanyahu and Trump, then, is the two-state solution. Even as the Trump administration finally recognizes the need for two states, the actual details of the plan make clear that no recognizable statehood is in store for Palestinians. The demise of a two-state solution is a loss not only for most Palestinians—who have long advocated that two states allows dignity and justice for both peoples—but more so for Israelis. Future Israeli generations will face a challenge to their democratic aspirations and moral standing as what is effectively apartheid becomes entrenched on the ground.