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December 12, 2019

Second Nakba


December 12, 2019

Two years ago Friday, President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

We knew then that this was an irresponsible and cruelly insensitive act that would do grave harm to the rights and well-being of Palestinians and put an end to any pretense that the United States could help negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What we didn’t know was that this dangerous move was only the beginning of the damage Trump would do to Palestinian rights and the prospects for peace.

During the past two years, the Trump Administration has: closed the US Consulate in East Jerusalem; closed the Palestinian consular office in Washington, DC; suspended aid to the Palestinians and to American non-governmental organizations working in the West Bank and Gaza; denied funding to UNWRA, the United Nations agency that provides essential services to Palestinian refugees; removed the designation “occupied” from all official publications and statements referring to the Occupied Territories; declared that in its view Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not “illegal;” and even gone so far as to deny that Palestinians should qualify as refugees.

While each of these acts presents problems on their own, added together the toll they may take on the Palestinian people can ultimately be as devastating as a second Nakba.

In the short span of only two years, President Trump and his administration have attempted to undo all of the gains Palestinians have won during the past seven decades. Because the US has shuttered the PLO office and denied that Palestinian refugees are, in fact, refugees and therefore part of the Palestinian community, the US is saying that it no longer sees Palestinians as a national community deserving of recognition and the right to self-determination. Because the US has repeatedly given carte blanche to every Israeli whim, regarding Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements, they have left Palestinians particularly vulnerable to more extreme Israeli measures – annexation, massive land seizures, and even expulsion.

And because the US has flaunted its contempt for the rule of law and international norms of behavior, they have created a far more dangerous and precarious world in which any regional power backed by the US can act with impunity and suffer little or no repercussions for their behavior.

I sometimes wonder if this is what the “the Deal of the Century” is supposed to look like. Maybe, all along, it was intended to be nothing more than what they have been doing for the last two years – creating a nihilistic order in which the Israelis are free to act out their most extreme fantasies while vulnerable Palestinians are forced to inhabit a dystopian world in which they have no rights and no recourse open to them.

Excerpted from: ‘ASecond Nakba in the Making’.

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