Trump’s “win-win” plan hands everything to Israel

A man walks past a mural depicting US president Donald Trump with a footprint across his face

Graffiti in Gaza shows what Palestinians have come to think of US President Donald Trump’s peacemaking.

Mahmoud Issa SIPA USA

After much anticipation and with great ceremony, on Tuesday US President Donald Trump presented his plan for Middle East peace.

It’s “a great plan,” Trump had already said a few days ago, though he may just have been humoring his son-in-law Jared Kushner, its chief architect.

On Tuesday, he called the plan “win-win,” though to whom the second win goes is hard to say.

The first is undoubtedly Israel’s, of whom the only thing that is being asked is a four-year settlement freeze while Palestinian statehood is negotiated.

Outside this exhausting demand to do less, Israel gets: all (or near enough) its settlements, all of Jerusalem, control over borders, uncontested military control over the whole area of historic Palestine, some one-third of the West Bank and the removal of any possibility that Palestinians who were expelled in 1948 could ever claim a right of return or even compensation for the lands and homes and years that were stolen from them.

It is little wonder that a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent Israeli prime minister who stood next to Trump as he presented the plan, looked more smug than ever.

“For too long,” Netanyahu said in his remarks after Trump had delivered (boy, did he deliver), “the very heart of the land of Israel, where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Well today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.”

Indeed. No one could sum up better than Netanyahu how much is wrong with the plan. It has precisely nothing to do with the Palestinians, who have been reduced to the kind of bit players their status – in the eyes of those who came up with and support this plan – as second-class people restricts them to.

The other “win”

Palestinians don’t go entirely empty-handed. Their overlords have granted them “statehood.” Over more than twice as much land as they currently control.

That at least is the breathless reporting that infected initial reports on the plan’s announcement, though no one stopped to ask the obvious: two times nothing is?

According to the plan, the issue of territory was worked out “in the spirit of UN [Security Council Resolution] 242.” But that would suggest some kind of adherence to 1967 boundaries. Judging by the “conceptual maps” of the plan’s appendix, it is hard to see that the 1967 boundaries were even considered.

Indeed, the priority, as the plan makes clear, is Israel’s security. Hence Palestinians get no control over borders in and out of the West Bank.

Nor do the maps indicate in what sense Jerusalem becomes both the unified capital of Israel while also becoming Palestine’s capital of “Al-Quds [including] areas of East Jerusalem.”

In lieu of compensation, a “Trump Economic Plan” will benefit refugees already present and those who are absorbed into the “State of Palestine” or the “Palestine Empire” or “Greater Palestine” or whatever the Palestinians want to call it, a series of non-contiguous areas that would be connected by bridges, tunnels and roads.

We get roads! This must be what Jared Kushner meant about economic advancement.

The Palestinians also might look forward to a resort area on the northern Dead Sea.

With details like these, it is easy to see how the Trump plan runs to 180 pages.

Unworkable

The plan, of course, is unworkable. It is a non-starter as the Palestinians have said all along.

It violates every red line the Palestinian Authority has stipulated, every principle the Palestine Liberation Organization signed onto in 1993 and every resolution of international law.

It cements a situation in which one set of people retains control over another without being responsible for upholding their rights.

No Palestinian leader could accept it. No Palestinian leader will accept it. Any Arab leader who is seen to support it will be tainted.

It’s worse than a joke. It’s an insult.

Palestinian Authority officials – Mahmoud Abbas, the PA leader, called it the “slap of the century”– and Hamas spokespeople predictably rejected the plan out of hand.

Others, too, were scathing.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said the plan changed nothing.

“What the Palestinians are being ‘offered’ right now is not rights or a state, but a permanent state of apartheid.”

Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor for US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, tweeted out his word of the day: “Bantustan,” and cautioned journalists to talk to “actual Palestinians.”

Much of the presentation of the plan sounded like a threat against Palestinians.

Thus, the “difficulty” in creating a contiguous Palestinian state, given the spread of settlements, was used by an administration official as the reason for Palestinians to accept it.

“… [I]f we don’t do this freeze now I think that their chance to ever have a state basically goes away.”

What this official doesn’t seem to have stopped to consider is this: So what?

So what if that chance goes away. Israel still has to live with six million Palestinians.

Here is the eye-opening fact that eludes those who seem to think that power is all that matters: This is all over only when Palestinians say it is. Not a minute before.

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Comments

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All this is eyewash, hogwash and mouthwash. Only a war of independence will get Palestinians their land back. But where is their George Washington?

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Given the anger of Palestinians at how they’ve been treated for decades, violent revolution may be wanted BUT it will be fought & lost against an overwhelming foe.

The only possibility is to study & use the passive resistance methods of Mahatma Ghandi, who defeated the might of the British Empire.

Can Palestinians do the same by organising themselves to defeat Israel’s policies and create peace? Or are they locked into Revenge! ?

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With the killing/ murder that has been going on at the wall by the IDF against non-armed defenseless people wouldn't you say that the Palestinians have been practicing passive resistance similar to Mahatma Ghandi .Would they be expected to protest until the last one is shot .I am a pacifist and believe in what you stated but am lost for a way forward .The entire world needs to speak out with outrage as to what is happening in Palestine , but only crickets are heard.

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Trivia & just a typo probably but noted the map on the cover of the Trump peace plan ( seen on Trump peace plan wikipedia page) has the city of Jenin labeled as JAnin with an "a" instead of an "e". Not sure if this means anything or is a variation on the city's usual spelling but if it is an error it seems like a pretty bad and careless one maybe saying something about the mindset of the plan's creators? Wondering if I'm the first to notice that and if anyone else cares or finds it curious as well?

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Its my understanding that one of the conditions that the non-state of Palestine would have to accept is that it will not enter into any treaties or agreements with other states or external bodies, presumably including UN associated bodies or the ICC. The Trump administration can have an opinion regarding the legality of the settlements but the international community is not obliged to accept this opinion. However, I can only assume that the release of the sordid document will place even greater pressure on the ICC to decide the Palestinian claims are outside its jurisdiction. If the ICC turns the Palestinians down, then the last reason for the PA to exist goes and the credibility of the court suffers another blow.

Those little parcels of Palestinian controlled land would be entirely landlocked; that is surrounded by Israel who would maintain control over the land borders and airspace etc. Sounds like another Gaza in the making to me where Israel, in the name of 'security' would control the movement of goods and people in and out and be able to impose a siege according to Israel's whim and use whatever measures it chooses to control the population and its capacity to engage in normal commercial activity. Presumably the proposed tunnel connection between Gaza and the W/B will be under Israeli control and access could be denied at will; a permanent checkpoint. Likewise with all other bridges and roads within the W/B; shut off at Israeli will.

Unfortunately its probable that Trump will starve the PA of funds and reduce Palestinians to the status of beggars during the next 4 years; there is no easy path ahead for the Palestinian people.

This plan is meant to be rejected by the Palestinian people. There is no intention (or even pretence) of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state - so the one state solution with equal rights for all is the only remaining solution.

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These "deals" or "roadmaps" or "peace plans " will continue until the Palestinian people rise up to overthrow their corrupt comprador class and force the creation of a genuine liberation leadership. The international struggle is no substitute for this. Howard Davidson

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John Chuckman, I agree with most of your comment / take on the Trump plan here & think you are largely correct but for some minor points. You say :

" They get to vote for a government, their own, which governs almost nothing, and they cannot even freely travel between the broken bits of their island chain."

Actually, at least in theory, the West Bank and Gaza parts of Palestine will be connected and contiguous in the Trump plan due to a tunnel which apparently is feasible as an engineering construction although it would take time, effort and money to build. (Who builds it and how long it takes are other questions needing answers.) Think the Chunnel under the English Channel for an example of a tougher project that was successfully built.

Tangential note here - among Palestinians "necessary qualifications" for their Trump plan state is the disarming of Hamas! Okaaay. Can see that being an issue.

"Israel works very hard at preventing such pressure from abroad developing with its lobbies pressuring legislators to curtail freedom of speech (trying to conflate criticism of the public acts of a well-armed state with the superstitious beliefs of anti-Semitism) .."

Superstitious anti-Semitism? Um, I'm not sure that combination or way of phrasing it makes sense. Superstition is about luck and random things that are (usually wrongly) thought to be either lucky or unlucky e.g. black cats. Anti-Semitism is a form of bigotry and prejudice. I don't think that description quite works in this context - though maybe if you elaborate more you could make a case for it? Dunno? Whilst claims of anti-Semitism may be unwarranted and abused and misused to prevent fair criticisms of Israeli policies; real and harmful anti-Semitism does exist and does need to be opposed.

Your conclusion though, John Chuckman, is powerful, well-writ and rings true.

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Omar Karmi

Omar Karmi is an associate editor for The Electronic Intifada and former Jerusalem and Washington, DC, correspondent for The National newspaper.