Trump “peace” deal is Israel’s apartheid blueprint

Trump’s Middle East “peace” plan is a nonstarter, but should be understood as an advanced agreement between Israel and the US on unilateral measures.

Chris Kleponis Polaris

US media have treated Trump’s launch of his Middle East “peace” plan as a sideshow to impeachment hearings in Washington.

But the plan, if imposed on the Palestinians by Israel, which worked with the Trump administration to develop it, would violate the rights of millions of people.

Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups say that the plan amounts to a permanent state of military occupation, apartheid and Palestinian suffering.

As Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, puts it, the plan is “no more than an attempt to bypass international legal barriers and to ignore Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”

It attempts this by substituting the Palestinian goal of national liberation with economic prosperity. (No creativity points awarded on this count; we’ve seen this show before.)

It’s a variation of the sleight of hand attempted by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and chief architect of the plan, when he tried to do away with the pesky problem of multiple generations of Palestinian refugees by telling them that they are not refugees after all.

This myopic approach is ridiculous and an insult to Palestinians who have endured injustice for so long.

It also reflects the utter contempt Kushner, whose family foundation has funded activities in the settlements, has for Palestinians and their rights.

Ir Amim, a group working towards equality in Jerusalem, notes “the stark congruence between the plan and the settler right-wing agenda.”

Palestinian refugees, it should come as no surprise, do not have any rights, according to the Trump plan. Not to return to the homes and lands now in Israel from which their families were forcibly expelled. And not to compensation, either.

When the Trump plan mentions the well-being of Palestinians, it’s used as a stick to bludgeon their leadership, resistance factions and Arab states hosting refugees. The plan makes it clear that Israel bears no responsibility for Palestinian grievances, and therefore Palestinians can make no claims for accountability against it.

The plan requires the Palestinians to abandon the pursuit of war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court – efforts its authors describe as “judicial warfare against the State of Israel.”

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has warned Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, over the illegality of his election campaign pledges to annex West Bank territory.

Yet annexation is the foundation of the Trump proposal, which would hand over the areas of the West Bank most prized by Israel – its settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley.

The plan attempts to eschew the international consensus on the illegality of Israel’s settlements and other significant violations by stating that “different parties have offered conflicting interpretations of some of the most significant United Nations resolutions” related to Israel and the Palestinians.

It is a similar argument to that made by the heads of oil companies and Republican politicians who claim it is up for debate whether human activity is irreversibly altering the planet’s climate because a handful of fringe skeptics challenge the scientific consensus.

Population transfer

Trump’s plan recommends the transfer of more than 260,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel to a future State of Palestine.

It states that the “State of Palestine” could make up for West Bank territory lost to the annexation of Israel’s major settlement blocs by gaining “both populated and unpopulated areas” in Israel.

The populated area specified in the plan is the Triangle region in northern Israel, primarily made up of Palestinian communities such as Umm al-Fahm, Qalansawa and Tira.

While Trump’s “vision” boasts that no Palestinian or Israeli would be removed from their home, this land swap proposal would strip Palestinians in Israel of their citizenship and “place them under perpetual Israeli military occupation,” as Adalah states.

“This kind of population transfer – which has been consistently rejected by Palestinian citizens of Israel when proposed by a variety of Israeli right-wing political leaders in the past – is blatantly illegal under international law and attempts to widen the demographic scope of racially motivated separation,” Adalah adds.

Meanwhile, some 120,000 or more Palestinians in neighborhoods on the wrong side of Israel’s annexation wall in East Jerusalem would presumably lose their residency status.

An archipelago of land with no right to self-defense, the Palestinian state envisioned in the Trump plan would resemble none ever seen before, and would hardly satisfy Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Indeed there is a stark resemblance between the South African apartheid regime’s bantustans – supposedly independent states that the racist government hoped would forestall demands for Black political rights.

It also resembles the reservations that the US and Canada established for Indigenous people forced off their land by European settlers.

For these reasons, the plan has rightly been called a non-starter. But as Ir Amim warns, “the plan’s content underpins the notion that an advanced understanding has been reached between the Israeli government and the Trump administration concerning far-reaching unilateral measures.”

The group adds that the plan “reflects extensive moves that are already being implemented on the ground to strengthen Israel’s hold on East Jerusalem and to carry out annexation steps towards ‘Greater Jerusalem.’”

Gift to Temple Movement extremists

The plan also “contains blatant contradictions which constitute a flagrant breach to the status quo” at the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary compound housing al-Aqsa mosque.

The Trump plan states that “people of every faith should be permitted to pray” at the compound, marking “a dramatic shift in the longstanding policy concerning worship rights” at the site.

Since 1967, the status quo has been that only Muslims have worship rights at the site, while others may visit.

Ir Amim adds that “such changes have been one of the primary goals of the Temple Movements – radical Jewish activists committed to overturning the status quo and asserting Jewish sovereignty over the site.”

Those extremists enjoy the backing of Israeli lawmakers. David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, and the Kushner family have previously signaled their support of these extremist groups.

As Ir Amim observes, the plan also “calls to safeguard Jerusalem’s religious and holy sites and ensure freedom of access for worshippers of all faiths.” Except for the al-Aqsa mosque compound and “a general reference to Muslim holy shrines,” it omits sacred Muslim sites from a list of holy sites in the city.

Instead, the list includes “a significant number of Jewish and Christian sites,” and archaeological sites “never before officially regarded or recognized as holy,” Ir Amim states.

The latter sites are “located in and around Silwan and constitute the locus of the Elad settler organization’s touristic settlement operations in the area.”

Trump’s envoys have previously lent a hand (and arm) to efforts to displace Palestinians from the Silwan neighborhood for the benefit of Israeli settlers.

The Trump-Israel-Kushner plan opines that “Only through peace can the Palestinians achieve prosperity.”

But without justice, there will never be peace. Israel and its American enablers cannot escape that reality.

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Comments

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Well, on the bright side I guess it could be worse? They could be making the world's biggest open air prison smaller instead?

/Grim humour.

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On a more serious "brighter" (?) note I guess its now been made so clear, transparent and blatant what the Israeli agenda and Trump war* plan is and how one-sided and Netanyahu authored & gifted this is.

Not sure its that much of a revelation but the sad, sick "joke" of having a "peace plan" where one side dictates terms and the other isn't consulted or present or talked to or respected at all kinda gives the truth away and unmasks even the tissue-thin, unconvincing facade of what came before huh?

So.

Now what?

* Yeah, this plan is one that seems aimed to spark a war rather than peace demanding unachievable and unacceptable concessions from the Palestinians and blaming them for it not working and letting Israel do whatever it wants if those unacceptable things aren't accepted and unachievable things aren't achieved whilst giving Israel almost everything already anyhow. Seems they expect and desire a war to be incited from this perhaps? A war that militarily cannot be won and can only make things worse still. If that's true as seems likely, maybe NOT doing the expected or falling for it would be best - but then what can the Palestinians do? BDS, single state shift, equal voting rights for all incl Palestinian territories campaign / ultimatum? Absolute peaceful protest in a way that cannot be stopped yet also is effective in getting global support and which would be .. dunno? Led by ..?

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In my view, you could only get away with referring to a 'peace plan' before the US and Israel tried to corner and rip-off the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000. Clayton Swisher's (a Clinton team member there and now a political journalist for Al-Jazeera) "The Truth About Camp David" adduces substantive evidence to indicate that CD was the end of the line for many of us believing in the 'peace process'. Since then, I have tried to refer to it regularly as the 'confiscation process'. However, if one goes back and reads Edward Said's essays about Oslo, beginning in 1993, one can retrospectively agree there really never was a genuine 'peace process' but has always been about repackaging the Israeli occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the "blueprint" for apartheid in Israel was issue in 1948 with its Basic Laws, carefully analyzed in detail by Israeli historian Uri Davis in his "Apartheid Israel". We've got to stop all phraseology that conveys to the public the idea that Israel is 'becoming' an apartheid state. It's always been so. Again, kindly correct me if I'm wrong.

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

I’m not sure who or what you’re quoting re. Israel “becoming” an apartheid state. Human rights groups say that the plan will essentially cement the current reality of apartheid in Palestine.

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Hello Ms. Murphy....I cited the work by Uri Davis, which I highly recommend as a documented analysis of the fact that Israeli was cemented as an apartheid state...its purely rhetorical forays into 'accepting' a two-state solution as a delaying tactic notwithstanding...with its Basic Laws in 1948. There has long been talk like Israel is 'becoming', or Israel is 'in danger of becoming', or Israel must choose between (let's say) "Peace or Apartheid". I think such language, with all respect that might be due to some of the work that human rights groups have done on behalf of Palestinians, obscures the fact of what Israel has been since 'day one'...an apartheid state masquerading as a democracy. And that means, in addition to the nasty two-tiered system of 'legality' in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, an apartheid system for anyone who is not Jewish inside Israel's borders. I'd love to know what your analysis of Uri Davis's study would be if you can find the time.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.