By JOHN LESLIE
On Jan. 28, President Trump, with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu by his side, announced “the deal of the century,” presenting a two-state solution for Palestine that he claims is a “win-win” for both sides. To sweeten the deal, Trump said that the U.S. would give $50 billion to be split between the proposed new Palestinian mini-state and other countries in the region—including Egypt and Jordan.
The Trump plan states that “the State of Israel and the United States do not believe the State of Israel is legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100% of the pre-1967 territory [which Israel seized and has occupied for over 50 years].” The proposal also codifies Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as being part of the state of Israel.
The “agreement” would create a web of discontinuous Palestinian enclaves connected by enclosed roads running through land awarded to Israel. There are also promises to build some sort of infrastructure, such as a tunnel, connecting the Palestinian statelet in the West Bank with Gaza. The fate of Gaza is tied to the removal of Hamas as the governing authority in the city.
The entire Jordan Valley would be “placed under Israeli sovereignty,” with the pledge that Palestinian farmers would be allowed to continue to work their land. A broad swath of territory along the present Israeli border would also be given to Israel. And Israeli settler towns would continue to operate within the land given to Palestinians.
East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim for their capital, would be placed completely under Israeli jurisdiction. Instead, Palestinians would be granted land in a nearby village to construct their new capital.
Trump announced that for a period of four years, while the Palestinian authorities are considering his proposal, Israel would hold off from constructing new settlements on West Bank land designated to be included in the proposed Palestinian state. But some Israeli officials later backtracked from Trump’s promise.
Trump’s deal, put together by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is anything but a victory for the Palestinian people, who have suffered under Israeli occupation for decades. “This could be the last opportunity they (Palestinians) ever have,” Trump declared.
“It’s a big opportunity for the Palestinians. They’ve had a perfect record of blowing every opportunity they’ve had in the past,” Kushner said, adding, “Perhaps their leadership will read the details and stop posturing.” The Trump and Kushner deal is a take it or leave it offer for an occupied people, as their occupiers have been offered almost everything they want.
Kushner’s statement ignores the fact that Israel has never fully honored any agreement. In fact, settlement building in the West Bank, something that was supposed to cease under the 1993 Oslo agreement, continued and even intensified after the pact.
Plan opposed by Jewish groups
Progressive Jewish organizations have condemned the move by Trump: “The plan itself is a plan for permanent Israeli military occupation and control, not a plan for peace. It is simply a continuation of Trump’s strategy since entering office: to disenfranchise Palestinians and deny their rights, their agency, and even their identity,” Emily Mayer of #IfNotNow told Newsweek.
Rabbi Alissa Wise, of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that Trump had “contradicted international law on the illegality of Israeli settlements, the annexation of the Golan Heights and the status of Jerusalem, while cutting massive amounts of humanitarian aid to Palestinians.”
It seems that this “agreement” is calculated to distract from Trump’s impeachment woes and to give a shot in the arm to his own reelection campaign and the reelection effort of his ally Netanyahu, who is under indictment for corruption.
Trump is no impartial arbiter in the conflict. Since taking office, Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. embassy there. Trump also recognized the “legality” of settlements in the occupied territories. Settlement building in occupied areas is illegal under international law. Israel has continued to destroy Palestinian homes and crops. Gaza is still under siege with the population trapped in what can only be termed an open-air concentration camp. Palestinians in Jerusalem have had their homes stolen and given to settlers.
What this so-called “deal of the century” amounts to is not “two states” but the continuation of apartheid and annexation. It clears the road for a future Israeli regime to complete the process of ethnic cleansing by exerting their claim to all of Palestine. Some in the Israeli right wing envision a Greater Israel that would claim all of historic Palestine and extend into Lebanon and Syria.
Neither of the U.S. capitalist political parties, Democrats or Republicans, are honest peace brokers. Israel is a valuable U.S. strategic asset in the region. Reagan’s Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, referred to Israel as “the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk.” The Democrats have, with a few exceptions, been abject supporters of the state of Israel. U.S. taxpayer dollars have funded the apartheid state for decades.
Israel has often been a proxy for U.S. imperialist power and has provided aid and training to repressive regimes. For example, Israel sold arms and provided training to the military and police forces of Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina throughout the 1970s. Israel is also implicated in the training and arming of rightist death squads in Guatemala, Columbia, and Nicaragua. Israel also trains U.S. troops in counterinsurgency tactics and methods and provides training to police forces across the U.S. and around the world.
Israel: A colonial-settler state
Some Palestinian activists are terming this proposal the “new Balfour”—a reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration by the British government, which expressed support for a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then a part of the Ottoman Empire. This declaration was, of course, made without consultation with the indigenous people in Palestine, which had a small Jewish population at the time. After the World War, the European imperialist powers carved up the Middle East with no regard to the aspirations of the people of the region.
More than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes in the 1948 war that followed the founding of the state of Israel. This is commonly referred to as the Nakba, the catastrophe. Palestinian villages and towns were taken over and the land confiscated. The remaining Palestinian minority in Israel, referred to as the Israeli Arabs, are treated as second-class citizens. Palestinian people do not have the right to return to their homeland.
Palestinian workers from the West Bank who manage to be allowed to work in Israel face discrimination, strict permitting processes, and lower pay than Israelis. Israel holds more than 4600 Palestinian prisoners; many are held in preventive detention without trial or due process. More than 200 Palestinian children are held as in Israeli jails. Palestinians in the occupied territories are subject to Israeli military courts.
Since Oslo, the Zionist state has continued settlement building, with around 600,000 settlers now living in fortified Jewish-only enclaves, in violation of international law. Gross violations of Palestinian human rights are routine. Home demolitions and land confiscation are commonplace. The destruction of crops and decades-old olive trees and toxic waste dumping by settlers is frequent. In fact, on Monday, Jan. 27, settlers burned a classroom in a Palestinian school and wrote racist graffiti on the walls.
What is on offer in the Trump plan is continued subordination and dispossession, not real self-determination. An ineffectual bourgeois leadership around Abbas have enriched themselves and sold out the Palestinian people in return for the limited power of running a Bantustan.* Israel has spent the years since Oslo creating the “facts on the ground” for annexation at the expense of Palestinian workers and farmers.
Build the solidarity movement!
Building international solidarity with the Palestinian people is an urgent task. We must shout a resounding no to the sham peace plan offered by the criminal Trump-Netanyahu axis. We support organizations fighting for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against the apartheid regime. This includes a vigorous defense of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace when they are attacked by Zionists and pro-Israel reactionaries.
We reject the notion that criticism of Israel and advocacy for the Palestinians equals anti-Semitism. We also understand that far-right forces, for their own nefarious reasons, seek to infiltrate the ranks of the solidarity movement. We reject this right-wing agenda and work to fight any manifestation of anti-Semitism in the movement.
We fight today for the right to return, the lifting of the siege of Gaza, and the freeing of political prisoners. We call for an immediate end to settlement building and the return of all land confiscated or stolen since 1967. We call for BDS until the end of the apartheid system. All U.S. aid to Israel must end immediately. The two-state solution is not a viable one for Palestinian workers and their allies. We call for a unified democratic, secular, and socialist Palestine, with equal rights for all.
Reject the sham Trump plan! Self-determination for the Palestinian people! Free Palestine from the river to the sea!