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February 1, 2020

They call it a peace plan


February 1, 2020

President Trump finally unveiled his long-awaited “peace plan “for the Middle East. This plan is a non-starter because most likely it will not be able to break the stalemate in the peace process between the Palestinian leadership and Israel. Unlike previous peace initiatives and peace accords, which offered some sort of hope to the Palestinian people, Trump’s peace plan has nothing to offer.

It provides no immediate and needed relief for the besieged people of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank from Israeli occupation, repression and violence. And no relief from the continued killing, bombing, destruction and misery.

The plan ignores the wishes and demands of the Palestinian people who have sacrificed a lot in the last many decades. The Palestinian leadership was not consulted and kept out of the whole process to finalise this peace plan.

As expected, Palestinians have rejected this plan and this “deal of the century”. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has expressed the anger and disappointment of the Palestinians on Trump’s peace plan saying it will “not pass”.

“After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a no thousands of time to the Deal of The Century. We will not kneel and we will not surrender and ... resist the plan through peaceful, popular means”.

On the other hand, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu summed up the sentiments of the Israeli ruling class and declared the announcement of the peace plan a “historic day”. He compared Trump’s announcement of his peace plan with the announcement by president Henry Truman to recognise the state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for being the first president to “recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Judea Samaria, Jordan Valley and other strategic areas” and to recognise settlements as part of Israel. He further said to Trump that “I believe that down the decades, and perhaps down the centuries, we will also remember January 28, 2020, because on this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas that are vital to our security and central to our heritage.”

The Israeli ruling class is jubilant because this plan is an official endorsement of Israel’s policy of violent occupation-repression and expansion. President Trump has provided Netanyahu with what he asked for. It is not a peace plan but a well-timed and well prepared plan to help Netanyahu win the crucial March 2020 general elections in Israel.

This blatant effort by the Trump administration to impose a deal on the Palestinian leadership clearly serves the interests of the Israeli rightwing ruling class. This ‘peace plan’ is a clear message to the Palestinian people that any peace will come on Israeli terms.

The message is loud and clear that even a feeble Palestinian state will come at a heavy price. The Palestinian people will have to forget about their dreams and wishes for a viable, strong and independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

What this plan means for the Palestinian people and state is that they concede more land to Israel in the West Bank for Jewish settlements. There will be complete Israeli control over Jerusalem. There will be no right of return to the seven million Palestinians expelled from their homes and lands in 1948.

This plan offers a weak, vulnerable and defenceless Palestinian state permanently left at the mercy of the Israeli state. The Palestinian people and leadership are justified to be angry and disappointed with this ‘deal of the century’.

The plan is clearly a ‘deal of the century’ – but for the Israeli rightwing ruling class. This plan offers everything to Israel, from the Golan Heights to Jerusalem as capital and nearly half of the West Bank. It addresses the security concerns of the Israeli state, and legitimises the illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands.

The plan also proposes one-sided solutions with a clear aim to fulfill Israeli desires and wishes. That is how it wants to solve these complex and contentious issues. Let’s start with Jerusalem, which is one of the most contentious issues between Israel and Palestine. The plan just gives Jerusalem to Israel as capital. The Palestinian state will get some far-away settlements. It basically legitimises the Israeli occupation and illegal annexation of Jerusalem – and considers the issue settled.

There is another important issue – that of Palestinian refugees. The problem is that Palestinian refugees want to return back to their homes and lands in Israel. They also want compensation for their illegal and forceful eviction. Israel is not ready to accept the return of nearly seven million refugees. So the Trump plan offers a simple solution: deny the Palestinian refugees the right to return.

Another issue is the illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands and settlements. The Palestinians want their lands back – and an end to Jewish settlements. Israel wants more lands and settlements. So the solution according to the Trump plan is: legitimise the Israeli occupation and extend the Israeli order to these lands and settlements. Trump wants to legalise the inhumane and repressive occupation of Palestine.

As far as the issue of borders and final settlement is concerned, just forget about the UN Security Council Resolution 242 which requires Israel to return to its 1967 borders. But Israel wants to occupy more West Bank land and extend its borders to all the settlements. So: redraw the borders according to the wishes of the Israeli state and legitimise the illegal occupation.

Further, the plan takes maximum Palestinian lands and whatever is left is declared as the Palestinian state – completely dependent on Israel for its survival. This is what Trump means when he refers to an ‘independent and prosperous’ Palestinian state.

The fact is that this ‘peace plan’ will not bring any peace.

The writer is a freelance journalist.