Palestinians Expect – Can Trump Be Any Worse?
- Fear and trepidation are slowly building up, as US
President-elect, Donald Trump, is fortifying his
transitional team with people capable of bringing about
a nightmare scenario, not only for Americans but for the
rest of the world, as well.
Palestinians, however, the signs are even more ominous.
From former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, to Republican
leader Newt Gingrich, the Trump team is filling up with
dishonorable men who have made careers out of pandering
to Israeli interests and unabashedly discounting
had claimed in 2011 that
Palestinians are “invented” people, Giuliani,
according to Jewish News Service “is fondly
remembered in the Jewish community for expelling
Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) chief, Yasser
Arafat, from a United Nations concert at Lincoln Center
statements made by Trump himself last May – that the
expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied
West Bank “should keep moving forward” – to more recent
comments by Trump’s point person in Israel,
Jason Greenblatt, that the illegal colonies are “not
an obstacle to peace”, it is fairly certain that the
Trump administration is decidedly anti-peace and
officials are, of course,
rejoicing at the opportunity of working with such an
Education Minister Naftali Bennet celebrating the
“end of a Palestinian state” era and
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman inviting Trump to
“coordinate the development” of the illegal settlements.
media forecast for the next four years in US foreign
policy towards Palestine and Israel is also prejudiced.
It is true that Trump’s prospective line-up of old
politicians is not conducive to the achievement of a
just peace in Palestine by any stretch of the
imagination, but presenting the news as if the prospects
of a thriving just peace had existed under the
administration of Barack Obama is simply laughable.
administration, despite the uneasy relationship between
President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, has been one of the friendliest and most
generous towards Israel. Obama has remained steadfast on
Israel’s side as they both fought against Palestinian
political aspirations in international institutions.
Obama signed a “landmark
agreement” by giving Israel $38 billion in military
funding, the largest aid package in US history.
worried about things getting worse for Palestinians
under a Trump presidency can take comfort in the fact
that they already have.
But will this
impact the American position towards a Palestinian
Not in the
least because, again, Obama, like his predecessors
fought tirelessly to prevent a Palestinian state from
ever taking form. If a distinction is to emerge between
the Obama and Trump administrations, it is likely to be
manifested in rhetoric, not in action: the former
refined and articulate, the latter belligerent and
demagogic. Either way, Palestinians lose.
In his last
speech before the United Nations, Obama dedicated a
single sentence to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – a
sentence that accurately reflected his failure to
positively affect the outcomes of the Middle East’s most
protracting, destabilizing conflict.
would “be better off if Palestinians reject incitement
and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel
recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle
Palestinian land,” he said. Nothing more.
previous speeches dedicated much rhetoric to the
conflict in Palestine and Israel,
the last UN speech – and that sentence alone – was a
more honest indication of eight years that lacked
vision, or even a sincere attempt at finding one.
eight-year period, during which time thousands of
innocent people – the vast majority of whom were
Palestinians – were killed, Obama purportedly labored to
achieve the proverbial, although misleading, “middle
ground”. The outcome of his policies were quite
devastating: whereas he sold Palestinians false hope, he
granted Israel most of its needs of military funding and
technology, shielding it from international censure,
during the last Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 which killed
and wounded thousands, Obama ensured the
Israeli army’s storage of ammunitions and military
hardware remained at full capacity.
political front, he ensured Palestinian efforts aimed at
obtaining recognition for their future state were
soundly defeated. He went as far as denying the UN
cultural organisation, UNESCO,
from nearly a quarter of its funding simply for
admitting Palestine as a new member.
Yet, some are,
naively, hoping that Obama will seek recognition for the
State of Palestine at the UN Security Council in his
remaining weeks in the Oval Office. These hopes have
been buoyed by media reports that Obama
had instructed the State Department to develop an
“option menu” regarding his vision for a resolution to
Palestinians and their supporters are optimistic that
Obama will redeem himself, even if symbolically, and
support the Palestinian push for statehood, Obama is
unlikely to carry out any such steps, especially since
Trump is bound to defeat such initiatives once he moves
into the White House.
the soon-to-depart president has had eight full years to
show real grit and to take advantage of his first-term
popularity to challenge the pro-Israel lobby and present
his country as a truly “honest broker” in an unequal
conflict. He could have, at least, sided with the
majority of humanity by adding his country’s voice to
those that recognize a Palestinian state at the United
As of September
of last year, 139 of the UN’s member states (and two
non-member states) have recognized Palestine. But those
recognition remain largely symbolic as long as the US is
unyielding in its rejection of Palestinian aspirations.
An unwavering supporter of Israel, the US is not only
blocking full Palestinian membership at the UN, but is
doing its utmost to prevent ‘Palestine’ from gaining
access to international institutions.
what position is to be recommended by the State
Department to Obama in his final days in the White
House, the misfortunes of the Palestinians are unlikely
to be reversed overnight, or in the foreseeable future.
Judging from Trump’s friendly overtures towards Israel
inviting Netanyahu and
his wife to visit Washington shortly after winning
the elections – the immediate future does not look
taught us that, when it comes to US foreign policy
towards Palestine and Israel, things are likely to get
worse, not better. Despite the current chasm within
American society, among the media and political elites,
the American love affair with Israel will continue. The
ongoing war on Palestinian rights and aspirations will
leadership seems unable to understand such an obvious
reality. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is either
unaware or, perhaps, oblivious to the fact that its
salvation will not arrive from Washington, but from its
ability to navigate the US-Israeli alliance in a
resolved and united manner.
regardless of what position Obama – or even Trump – may
or may not take, it will have little bearing on the
outcome if Palestinians remain divided. Far more
significant than the inflammatory drivel of Gingrich and
Giuliani, Palestinian division and their inability to
confront the Israeli Occupation with one unified and
daring strategy is Palestine’s greatest, and most
Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for
over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated
columnist, a media consultant, an author of several
books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His
books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian
Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom
Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is