Trumps does to Palestine

Trumps does to Palestine what Modi did to Kashmir!

Iqbal Khan

Mischievously dubbed as a ‘peace deal’, President Trump’s so called peace plan does to Palestine what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did to Kashmir on August 05 2019. It is the de-facto legitimization of illegal Israeli military occupation, territorial expansion and apartheid over Palestine. Jerusalem has been maintained as Israel’s capital with useless provisions for Palestinian ‘governance’ in East Jerusalem. Content and intent of Trump’s Palestinian peace deal is provocative and its announcement is insulting to the Muslim World. Palestinians were not part of negotiations with the US or Israel over this deal. Peace deal is, indeed, one way wish list by Trump.

Trump released his long-awaited Middle-East peace plan on January 28, 2020, riding a media caption: “No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes”. He proposed an independent Palestinian state and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements. Trump said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians. Trump’s intent is the de-facto legitimization of illegal Israeli military occupation, territorial expansion and apartheid over Palestine. There is no Palestinian ‘state’ involved, only scattered territories surrounded by Israel.

Until now all of the most difficult aspects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal – the so-called final status issues – like borders; the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; the long-term status of Jerusalem; and the fate of Palestinian refugees, were to be left for face-to-face talks between the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Surprisingly, Trump’s new deal settles all such issues in Israel’s favour.

The US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory that Trump’s plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make. The map will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem”, where Trump says the US would open an embassy.

The PLO has commented that Trump’s plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called “historic Palestine”.  Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”. Both Israel and the Palestinians have competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, be the capital of their future state.

The Trump initiative will turn Israel’s “temporary occupation (of Palestinian territory) into a permanent occupation”. Israel has occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. More than 600,000 Israelis now live there in settlements, considered illegal under international law. The Trump administration last year announced that it no longer considered Israel’s settlement of civilians in the West Bank as “inconsistent with international law”.

Trump’s peace initiative has been in the works since 2017, and its economic component was unveiled in June, calling for $50 billion in international investment in the Palestinian territories and neighbouring Arab countries over 10 years. Despite this apparent economic incentive, Palestinian leaders have made clear that they no longer recognize Washington’s historic role as mediator in the conflict, given Trump’s repeated backing of Israeli demands. Netanyahu termed it “the deal of the century”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan, calling called it a “slap of the century” and promised to “take it to the dustbin of history”. The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo said the plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace, and that the League would not cooperate with the US in implementing it. Palestinian President Mah-moud Abbas dismissed the plans as a “conspiracy”. “I say to Trump and Netany-ahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,” he said.

Reacting to Trump plan, the United Nations said it remains committed to a two-state solution based on the borders in place before the 1967 war. “The position of the United Nations on the two-state solution has been defined, throughout the ye-ars, by relevant Security Council and General Asse-mbly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound,” said Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

On February 07, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also rejected US Trump’s Middle East peace plan. The OIC, comprises of 57 countries and represents more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide. OIC statement said it “rejects this US-Israeli plan, as it does not meet the minimum aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and contradicts the terms of reference of the peace process.” It called on “all member states not to deal with this plan or cooperate with the US Admin-istration efforts to enforce it in any way or form”.

Cardinal question remains as to how this arrangement is going to be enforced. Israel has thus far been incapable of extending settlements into the embattled Gaza Strip due to armed resistance.  Israel has performed poorly in the last few flare-ups with Gaza. The most sensitive Israeli economic and civilian targets are within range of thousands of rockets per day. Nonetheless, against these odds, Israel has a huge plus point—unconditional support by the US—that could offset most of these disadvantages. And Palestinians could find themselves perpetually confined to the territories assigned to Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians have been given a rude ultimatum. The question is not so much what benefit this deal might bring but how much damage it may do by over-turning Palestinian aspirations. Despite bipartisan su-pport by Israel’s political le-adership, overall prevalent geo-strategic environment surrounding Israel are far from conducive toward its on ground execution. In all likelihood it would heighten ongoing tensions in the Middle East and North Africa region.

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