Trump’s recently announced “Deal of the Century” to broker “peace” in Israel-Palestine is a laundry list of humiliating terms for the Palestinians, aimed at giving full US backing to Israeli expansionism.
The long-anticipated plan for the solution of the Israel and Palestine conflict – worked out by US President Trump and his “Senior Advisor” (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner – has been unveiled to the world to great fanfare. The so-called “Vision for Peace”, presented in the usual Trumpian newspeak as the “Deal of the Century”, is neither a deal, and nor has it anything to do with peace.
However, the plan provides the most complete US blanket support for Israeli land-grabbing in Palestine ever guaranteed by any US administration. Trump and Kushner seem to be determined to thrust the full weight of the US behind Israel by means of economic blackmail, isolation and an aggressive campaign aimed at provoking a capitulation by the Palestinian leadership.
Presiding over the event were the plan’s heartfelt supporters: Israeli longest-serving Prime Minister Netanyahu (fresh from being officially charged on 28 January with bribery, fraud and breach of trust) and his arch-opponent, the leader of the Blue-and-White coalition, Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu’s determination to cling to power by any means necessary has thrown Israel into a political deadlock for the best part of last year, and two elections in April and September last year have not provided a majority able to form a government. New elections are looming again on 2 March.
Trump’s clear aim is to once again give a helping hand to his ally Netanyahu, as he did in May 2018 by announcing the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem, or in September 2018 by supporting Netanyahu’s Jewish Nation State Law and again in March 2019, just weeks before the elections in Israel, by supporting Israel’s claims over the Golan Heights. Trump also featured prominently in Netanyahu’s election campaign last September. However, Netanyahu and Gantz may be bitter rivals, but fully agree with each other when it comes to how to deal with the Palestinian question.
The Palestinian side of the equation – those who will be on the receiving end of the “Deal of the Century” – were not even invited, not to spoil the party. However, Kushner made sure that the White House’s point of view – that the Palestinian leadership had to accept the “plan” whether they like it or not – was made clear in an interview for the CNN, in which he stated:
“You have 5 million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity – which, again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities – if they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them.”
Unfortunately for Kushner (and Trump), the Palestinian leadership will not be able to accept the terms imposed on them, even if they were willing to do so. A full-scale revolt of the Palestinian population in Gaza and in the West Bank, which could spill into Israel, would be the most likely result of this operation.
Trump’s “Deal of the Century” is not a deal, but rather an ultimatum. It was never Trump and Kushner’s intention for it to be accepted by the Palestinian leadership, which was not even invited at the plan’s public presentation, not to speak of the negotiating table. In fact it puts the entire onus on the Palestinians to deliver the ideal conditions for the realisation of the “plan”, with a series of impossible demands, which are designed to give the Israeli authorities a free hand on how to pursue their aims, in the likely event that the plan is not accepted.
Impossible demands on Palestinians
The conditions attached for the implementation of the Plan are a list of the most humiliating demands from the Palestinians that could possibly be envisaged, all in the framework of a four-year “transitional phase” to be implemented under a de-facto Israeli occupation.
The new Palestinian “state” drawn on the map is not and will never be viable. Israel will continue holding the keys to the entire Palestinian infrastructure: water, energy, telecommunications, supplies and trade by access to deep-sea ports.
The new Palestinian entity emerging from the application of the plan would be based on the recognition of Israeli settlers’ land grab in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian authorities will be forced to recognise most of the Israeli illegal settlements and they must relinquish any future claim over these lands or objections to the way Israel seized control of them.
The most valuable agricultural land in the Jordan Valley and control over the water of the Dead Sea and River Jordan are to be taken over by Israel. Land swaps will functionally expel 360,000 Israeli-Palestinian citizens from Israel, stripping them of citizenship and any rights, ripping apart families and their access to workplaces and infrastructure in Israel. If forced through, it could provoke an exodus of Israeli Palestinians towards Jordan.
Jerusalem is to be recognised as Israel’s “undivided” capital, after full annexation by Israel of occupied East Jerusalem. In “exchange”, the Palestinians would get the village of Abu Dis, to be renamed “Al-Quds”, which will become the new capital of the Palestinian territory. This means the Israeli state would have a free hand on how to manage the Temple Mount holy site, which the Israeli extreme right would like to see razed from the al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Palestinian entity will be a conglomerate of separate plots connected by a maze of bridges or tunnels (the most crucial being a long tunnel connecting the West Bank and Gaza).
They would have no army of their own to control their territories. In an act of spite, the Palestinians will have to recognise a regime of effective military occupation by a foreign and hostile army, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).
The Palestinian territory would have, according to the plan, access to the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashdod. But these ports are and will be fully subject to Israeli control, giving the Israeli government the power to open or close access at their whim.
Two areas in the desert bordering Egypt would be connected to Gaza by roads and developed as special economic zones for investment, mainly from the Gulf States. The Emirates and Saudi sponsors would love to have at their disposal a cheap and desperate workforce to blackmail into submission. It’s easy to imagine the conditions the Palestinian workforce would endure, should the plan materialise. However, even the Gulf monarchies can see this is not viable. Israel would have the power to open and close the access roads for workers, supplies and finished products, thus blocking any foreseeable development for the area.
The Palestinians authorities would have to accept a “No right to return” clause for Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967, and relinquish any previous territorial claims. Furthermore, they would have to accept Israel as a Jewish State.
As if all these conditions were not enough, the Palestinian Authority would strip families of political prisoners and victims killed or maimed by the Israeli army of their welfare payments during the resistance against Israeli occupation. This would be rightly felt as an all-out betrayal by the mass of the Palestinian population, who have resisted and fought against occupation for decades.
So, what is the real purpose of this fanfare around the “Deal of the Century”? The four-year transitional clause for the implementation of the above conditions in order to have the Palestinian territory recognised as a state provides an answer to that question. It is the key to understanding how the so-called peace plan was never aimed at peace but at giving a formal US backing to the expansionist policies of the Israeli ruling class, with no strings attached.
All the above conditions would have to be accepted and defended by all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas. This would be impossible for anyone to guarantee, let alone Palestinian Authority president Abbas. Furthermore Abbas would have to enforce the disarmament of all Palestinian factions while facing a de facto military occupation by Israel.
This “Deal of the Century” marks the Reductio ad Absurdum of the “two-state solution” underpinning the Oslo Accords of 1993, which established the Palestinian Authority. As Marxists, we denounced them back then as a trap for the Palestinians, which would lead to the present, nightmarish scenario.
To accept this “deal” would be tantamount to Palestinian capitulation and a betrayal of all the legitimate aspirations of millions of Palestinian refugees scattered around the Middle East, in Gaza, in the West bank and in Israel itself.
Any section of the Palestinian leadership going down that road will lose what little authority they still have in the eyes of the Palestinian masses, especially the youth, who will be rebelling against these unacceptable terms of capitulation dictated by the Israeli state with the patronage of US imperialism.