Under the shadow of his trial in the senate, and accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the very day he was indicted on criminal charges in Israel, U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his ‘Deal of the Century’ that is supposed to resolve the decades-long Palestine-Israel conflict. Trump’s advisor, son-in-law and close personal friend of Netanyahu, Jared Kushner, is the mastermind of this remarkable deal. It is remarkable for many reasons, a few of which this writer will now detail.
1) The future of the Palestinian people is being decided without input from the Palestinian people. It may seem strange to the uninitiated that the millions of Palestinians in Palestine, and those in refugee camps and around the world, have no say in the future of their nation, at least as defined by Trump and Netanyahu. But when the goal is simply to give Israel everything it wants, this ‘oversight’ is easily understood.
2) The deal violates international law. Under the terms of the ‘deal’, Israel gets to keep the land on which it has built settlements, and in which over 500,000 settlers live illegally. International law states clearly that an occupying power cannot permanently move its citizens onto occupied land. International law also states that a nation cannot keep land it conquered in war.
3) Israel agrees, after illegally annexing a large chunk of the West Bank, not to construct any additional settlements for four years. During that time, according to the ‘deal,’ final negotiations will be conducted. Palestine has been ‘negotiating’ with Israel for over twenty years, under U.S. sponsorship. If ever there was a case of the fox guarding the henhouse, this is it. If Palestine were to agree to this farcical deal, there would be four years of fruitless discussions, and then Israel would proceed to annex the rest of Palestine.
4) Palestine would have ‘limited’ control of its own country.
5) A Palestinian ‘state’ would not be contiguous and would be connected by a series of roads and bridges, keeping Palestinians away from Israelis. These enclaves sound more like bantustans than a free and independent state.
Outside of Zionist circles, does anyone think this is a good idea? And even within those racist circles, does anyone even try to say this is fair? Kushner has said that Palestine has blown every opportunity for peace, and he hopes the Palestinians don’t blow this one. That is like saying to a victim of assault: ‘if you stop resisting, I won’t punch you quite as hard’.
One of Trump’s talking points is that no one – Palestinian or Israeli – will need to relocate. What about the millions of Palestinians who have been forced off their land since 1948? Some of them, and/or their descendants, are still in Palestine, some are in refugee camps, and some have found their way to various other parts of the world.
It is also striking the Trump and Netanyahu apparently think they run the world, and that their decrees are law. According to them, this is a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ deal for the Palestinians: Israel will annex the West Bank regardless, although Kushner, in his magnanimous way, did say he would consider changing a sentence or two in the 181-page ‘deal’ document if the Palestinians wanted to do so. One article from a pro-Israel site says that this deal nullifies United Nations resolutions condemning settlement activity. It does no such thing. If this writer robs a bank, he does not nullify laws against bank robbery; he has simply broken the law. Netanyahu now has a powerful accomplice for his crimes, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are crimes.
The international community has basically ignored Israeli atrocities for decades, so we will see how the various nations around the world react to this ‘deal’. Even those who don’t care about Palestine, human rights and international law should look carefully at it. If this is allowed to stand, in time of war they can see their lands ‘annexed’, since that will not be without precedent due to this ‘deal’. They will observe that two nations can decide their fate as easily as the U.S. and Israel are deciding the fate of Palestine. And the fact that ‘might makes right’, which international law has prevented and controlled, at least to some degree, is now the order of the day.
For those who care about human rights, international law and the self-determination struggles of the Palestinian people, a sense of hopelessness and despair must not prevail. One might suggest contacting their elected representative, but in the U.S. that is pointless unless it is accompanied by a $50,000.00 contribution to his or her next campaign. As a citizen of both the U.S. and Canada, this writer, despite the lack of any contribution to their campaigns, contacted his two U.S. senators, Mark Rubio (who received $468,255.00 from pro-Israel lobbies for his 2016 campaign; he was the top recipient that year), and Rick Scott (his take is $111,808 for his various gubernatorial campaigns), and his ‘representative’ in the House, Debbie Wasserman-Schutz (her numbers couldn’t be located; one wonders why that is), along with his member of Parliament, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He expects no response other than, perhaps, a form letter discussing how this is a complicated situation (it isn’t), only negotiations can resolve it (they can’t), and how they are monitoring the situation (they aren’t).
It is puzzling to this writer how two world leaders, one currently on trial for crimes and the other newly-indicted, can pretend to determine the fate of millions of people. Trump has proven to be a dangerous buffoon prancing around the world stage, and Netanyahu’s crimes against humanity are among the most numerous ever addressed by the United Nations, and only a fraction of them have been; Israel is currently (finally!) being investigated by the International Criminal Court.
The international community must act, but governments won’t unless their citizens demand it. The time to act is now.
Originally published in Counterpunch.