By Jonathan Cook
Israel needed a fresh pretext to
justify seizing the last fragments of
historic Palestine after the expiry of
its Oslo alibi.
February 05, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - The Trump "Vision
for Peace" will never be implemented - and not
because the Palestinians reject it. Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu’s enthusiastic public embrace
of the plan belies the fact that the Israeli right
detest it too.
The headlines are that, with US blessing,
Israel's dream is about to be realised: it will be
able to annex its dozens of illegal settlements in
the West Bank and the vast agricultural basin of the
Jordan Valley. In return, the Palestinians can have
a state on 15 per cent of their homeland.
The real aim
But that is not the real aim of this obviously
one-sided "peace" plan. Rather, it is intended as
the prelude to something far worse for the
Palestinians: the final eradication of the last
traces of their political project for national
US President Donald Trump’s plan is neither a
blueprint for peace nor a decree from the heart of
the US empire. Rather it is a decoy, an enormous red
herring created in Tel Aviv and then marketed by
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared
Kushner, the glorified used-car salesman who
currently occupies the White House.
Trump may think his vision could lead to a
"realistic" two-state solution. Even many critics
assume it envisions the establishment of a highly
circumscribed, enfeebled Palestinian state. But for
Israeli leaders it serves another purpose entirely:
it provides diplomatic cover while they put the
finishing touches to their version of a one-state
solution inside Greater Israel.
Netanyhau has crafted a "deal of the
century" designed to fail from the outset - and
managed it through deeply partisan White House
David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel,
and Kushner. For all of them, its purpose is to
provide a fresh alibi for Israel and Washington to
continue disappearing the Palestinians more than two
decades after the illusions of the earlier Oslo
Accords "peace" process can no longer be sustained.
Israeli bad faith
That this is intended as a grand deception should
not surprise us. The current plan follows a tried
and tested tradition of US-dominated
"peacemaking" that has utterly failed to bring peace
but has succeeded triumphantly in smothering and
erasing historic Palestine, gradually transforming
it into Greater Israel.
Trump’s deal is, in fact, the third major
framework - after the 1947 United Nations Partition
Plan and the Oslo accords initiated in 1993 -
supposedly offering territorial partition between
Israelis and Palestinians. The lesson of each has
been that Israel and the US have returned after each
inevitable and intended failure to offer the
Palestinians even less of their homeland.
On each occasion, Israel (and before its
creation, the Zionist leadership) has signed up to
these peacemaking initiatives in bad faith, forcing
Palestinians, as the weaker party, to reject them.
And each time, that rejection has been weaponised by
Israel - used as a pretext to steal more territory.
This plan is no different from the others. It is
simply the latest iteration of a pattern of
settler-colonial expansion sponsored by Western
powers. But this time, if Israel succeeds, there
will be nothing left of Palestine even to pretend to
UN partition rejected
The idea of division first took substantive form
with the United Nations Partition Plan of late 1947.
It proposed creating two states: a Jewish one on
55 percent of Palestine would supposedly serve
as compensation for Europe’s recent genocide; and an
Arab one, on the remaining 45 percent, would be for
the native Palestinian population.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, knew
that the Palestinians were bound to reject a plan
premised on their dispossession. That was the very
reason he signed on. He hated the limitations
imposed by the UN on his emerging Jewish state - he
wanted all of Palestine – but was only too aware
that Palestinians hated
the partition proposal even more than he did. He
knew his good faith would never be put to the test.
Under cover of the ensuing, year-long war,
Ben-Gurion sent his troops way beyond the partition
78 percent of historic Palestine and
transforming the area into a Jewish state. In 1967,
his successors would grab the rest, as part of a
surprise strike against Egypt and other Arab states.
And so, the 53-year-long occupation was born.
Oslo's separation logic
Just as now with the Trump plan, the Oslo process
of the 1990s was not rooted in the idea of
establishing a sovereign Palestinian state – only of
pretending to offer one. In fact, statehood wasn’t
mentioned in the Oslo accords, only implied by a
series of intended
Israeli withdrawals from the occupied
territories over a five-year period that Israel
Instead, Oslo was
seen by the Israeli side, led then by Yitzhak
Rabin and Shimon Peres, chiefly in terms of an
"economic peace". The new rallying cry of
"separation" was intended to transform fragments of
the occupied territories into free-trade zones to
exploit a captive Palestinian labour force, and then
normalise relations with the Arab world.
Oslo’s only meaningful legacy - the Palestinian
Authority, today led by Mahmoud Abbas - still clings
its primary role: as prison guard overseeing
Palestinians' confinement in ever-shrinking
the occupied territories.
The Trump plan recognises that Oslo is now more
an obstacle than a vehicle for further Palestinian
dispossession. Israel has absolute control of East
Jerusalem, the planned capital of a Palestinian
state. The army and settlers have cemented Israeli
rule over 62 percent of the West Bank – territory
Oslo declared as Area C – that
includes its best agricultural land, water
sources and mineral wealth. Gaza, isolated from the
rest of the occupied territories, is besieged.
The only thing left for Israel to do now is
formalise that control and ensure it is
irreversible. That requires making permanent the
current apartheid system in the West Bank, which
enforces one set of laws for Jewish settlers and
another for Palestinians.
Trump’s "Vision for Peace" is needed only because
Oslo has outlived its usefulness. The Trump plan
radically overhauls the Oslo process formula:
instead of a supposed sharing of obligations - “land
in return for peace” – those obligations are now
imposed exclusively on the Palestinian side.
Under Oslo, Israel was supposed to withdraw from
the occupied territories as a precondition for
achieving Palestinian statehood and an end to
In reality, Israel did the exact opposite.
Under the Trump plan, Israel gets the land it
wants immediately - by annexing its illegal
settlements and the Jordan Valley - and it gets more
land later, unless Palestinians agree to a long list
of impossible preconditions.
Even then, Palestinians would only be entitled to
a demilitarised, non-sovereign state on less than 15
percent of historic Palestine, amounting to a
patchwork of enclaves connected by a warren of
tunnels and bridges, surrounded by armed,
fortress-like Israeli communities.
But even this vision of pseudo-Palestinian
statehood will never come to fruition – something
Netanyahu has made sure of. The Trump plan is a
catalogue of the most unacceptable, humiliating
concessions that could ever be demanded of the
It offers them a state that would be unlike any
state ever envisaged. Not only would it have no
army, but it would have to permanently accommodate a
foreign army, the Israeli one. Palestine would have
no control over its borders, and therefore its
foreign relations and trade. It would be deprived of
key resources, such as its offshore waters, which
include large deposits of natural gas; its airspace;
and its electromagnetic spectrum.
It would be deprived of its most fertile land,
its quarries, its water sources, and access to the
Dead Sea and its related mineral and cosmetics
industries. As a result, the Palestinian economy
would continue to be entirely aid dependent.
Proposed industrial zones in the Negev, accessible
only through Israeli territory, could be closed off
by Israel at a whim.
East Jerusalem, including its holy sites and
tourism industry, would be sealed off from the
Palestinian state, which would have its capital
instead outside the city, in Abu Dis. That village
would be renamed Al-Quds, the Holy, although the
deception would satisfy outsiders only, not
Intentionally lacking specifics for the time
being, the Trump vision suggests Israel and Jordan
would eventually share sovereignty over Jerusalem’s
most important holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The US appears ready to let Israel forcibly
divide the site so that Jewish extremists, who want
to blow up the mosque and replace it with a temple,
can pray there - in a repetition of what
happened earlier to the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
No legal redress
There would be no Palestinian right of return.
Abbas would need to recognise Israel as a Jewish
state, retrospectively sanctioning Palestinians’
dispossession and colonisation.
The Trump plan demands that the PA strip the
families of political prisoners and martyrs killed
by the Israeli army - the Palestinian equivalents of
Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko - of their welfare
In an interview with CNN this week, Kushner made
clear quite how intentionally contradictory his
demands of Palestinians are. Before it can be
recognised as a state, the Palestinian Authority is
expected to enforce the disarmament of the
Palestinian factions, including its militant rival
But it will have to do so while behaving like
some kind of idealised Switzerland, according to
Kushner, who insists that it uphold the most
stringent democratic standards and absolute respect
for human rights.
He indicated that the PA would fail such tests.
It was, he said, a “police state” and “not exactly a
The Trump plan’s proposed democratic Palestine,
it should be noted, would not be eligible to partake
of international justice. Should Israel commit
atrocities against Palestinians, the PA would have
to forgo any appeals to the International Criminal
Court in the Hague, which adjudicates on war crimes.
And in a final proof of its determination to
ensure Palestinians reject the deal, the Trump
administration has dusted off
a forcible transfer plan long promoted by the
former far-right defence minister, Avigdor
Lieberman. Israel could then redraw the borders to
strip potentially hundreds of thousands of
Palestinians living in Israel of their citizenship.
Such a move would constitute a war crime.
The Trump plan’s secret weapon is hidden in the
"four-year clause", as Kushner’s CNN interview makes
explicit. He said: "If they [the PA] don't think
that they can uphold these standards, then I don't
think we can get Israel to take the risk to
recognise them as a state, to allow them to take
control of themselves, because the only thing more
dangerous than what we have now is a failed state.”
Israel and the US know that not only will Abbas
or his successor never consent to the White House’s
nightmare scenario, but that they could never meet
these preconditions even if they wished to. But if
the Palestinians don’t concede everything demanded
of them within four years, Israel will be free to
start grabbing and annexing yet more Palestinian
And worse still, Israel, the US and Europe will
seek to blame Palestinians for choosing apartheid
over statehood. Apologists will say once again that
the Palestinians “never
miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
In other words, if Palestinians refuse to
disappear themselves in line with the Trump vision,
it will be assumed that they consent to Israel’s
permanent apartheid rule. Palestinians will have
forfeited their right to any kind of state on their
historic homeland, ever.
That is the real Trump vision, designed in Israel
and soon to be rolled out in Palestine.
is a Nazareth- based journalist and
winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for
Journalism. No one pays him to write these
blog posts. If you appreciated it, please consider
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This article was published by "MME"
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