President Donald Trump and his administration promise to announce what was called, ironically, the “final deal” for Israel and Palestine. It is a proposition for “peace” that violates the most basic requirements for a just and sustainable solution, flouts international law, contradicts the global consensus on peace (which in itself constitutes a major compromise by the Palestinians), and even departs from the declared policies of several previous US administrations.
The “ultimate deal” suffers from multiple fatal flaws and misconceptions that several successive US administrations have repeatedly failed to recognise. The spirit of the Palestinian people cannot be broken or brought into submission; nor will we ever succumb to external pressure and blackmail. To expect us to surrender our rights and freedom in exchange for a mythical “economic peace” is nothing short of a flight of fancy.
The US partnership with the Israeli occupation came to a head with Trump’s highly contentious recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then, in another act of provocation, his moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The decision emboldened the rightwing, racist, ethno-sectarian and hyper-nationalist forces in Israel – and gave the Israeli government the green light to colonise more Palestinian land and effectively deal the final blow to an already ailing two-state solution. The inability to recognise that Jerusalem is the historical, cultural, geographic and demographic heart of Palestine already set up the “ultimate deal” for failure. Jerusalem is the linchpin of peace.
The same ideology that violated Jerusalem is also behind the US administration’s assault on Palestinian refugees and their right of return – a universally recognised right that cannot be denied just to accommodate Israel’s exclusivity and exclusionary policies. The Trump administration targeted Palestinian refugees by cutting funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) – and denying them access to healthcare, education and social services.
Palestinian refugees have been longing for home for 70 years after being violently uprooted and expelled from their ancestral homeland. To deprive them of their rights and to crush their hopes and aspirations for redress and a life worth living is the utmost cruelty. Such an injustice will also fuel the flames of extremism and violence, leading to further regional instability and conflict. In addition to being morally reprehensible, such a policy is utterly dangerous and irresponsible.
The “ultimate deal” does not intend to offer a solution but rather to reinvent the occupation as a system of military and unaccountable control, and accommodate the continuing theft and fragmentation of our land, thereby relegating us to imprisonment in isolated territories at the mercy of Israeli security control. It further suffers from the illusion that the Palestinian people will give up their deep historical, cultural, and national commitment to Jerusalem – and relinquish the rights of our refugees.
The US should abandon its misguided assumption that anyone, whether in the region or beyond, can “deliver” the Palestinian people or sign up on our behalf. This approach, concocted by a team of US “peacemakers”, is one-sided, misplaced and totally divorced from genuine peacemaking. It has only reaffirmed that Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, are extensions of the most extreme rightwing Israeli government coalition and its active lobbyists and campaign donors in the US. One would have to be totally delusional to expect any kind of justice or genuine peace from such “peacemakers”, who are complicit in financing the illegal Israeli settlements that are forcibly built on stolen Palestinian land.
The two-state solution on the 1967 borders is the internationally recognised framework for a workable solution. In this context, the Arab peace initiative (API) has attempted to offer a formula for a comprehensive regional peace. The API cannot be turned on its head for an “outside-in” approach that seeks to offer Israel advance payments and rewards, normalisation and recognition, while it continues to occupy and oppress an entire people.
We have already made a painful concession in 1988 by accepting 22% of historical Palestine. Any attempt at further shrinkage with illegal Israeli expansionism, or any other acts of deception in the form of a statelet in Gaza or a fragmented entity in parts of the West Bank will be another recipe for disaster. Trump’s administration can continue down this doomed path – or it can finally come to grips with reality and the most basic requirements for peace. Simply put, any peace deal must be firmly rooted in international law and justice, while preserving dignity, freedom and human rights.
If there is one thing the US must not do it is underestimate the resilience of the Palestinian people. Despite this dark chapter in our history, we will remain committed to a life of freedom, dignity and peace – and will persist in our struggle for justice and historical redemption.