On the Eve of the Release of Trump’s ‘Deal–Farce of the Century’

PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 3 Feb 2020

Richard Falk | Global Justice in the 21st Century – TRANSCEND Media Service

28 Jan 2020 – Interview by Rodrigo Craveiro from the Brazilian daily Correio Braziliense

Craveiro: Why are Palestinian leaders rejecting to talk with president Trump about this new peace plan?

Falk: Trump made so many important controversial and major concessions to Israel on issues that prior pro-Israeli US presidents refused to do. These unilateral giveaways included moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem in defiance of UN agreement to resolve this issue by negotiations between the parties; assert that the establishment of settlements on Occupied Palestine were legal despite the near universal agreement that all settlements are unlawful if established on Occupied Palestine; recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which Israel acquired by force in the 1967 War and by unanimous  Security Council Resolution 242 was ordered to withdraw from. In effect, it became obvious to even the weakest Palestinian leadership that such a one-sided approach to resolving the conflict was totally unacceptable to the Palestinian people, and had no credible claim to be seeking a genuine compromise. What was known through leaks prior to the release of Trump’s plan confirms this impression, and explains why even the Palestinian Authority is reluctant to give any credibility whatsoever to this diplomatic charade being orchestrated by the White House.

2– Do you believe the peace plan has failed on delivery? Why?

F- For the reasons given, the peace plan is substantially an imposed Israeli victory, not in any reasonable way the basis for reaching a political compromise. In this regard, it is  manifestly unacceptable to the Palestinian people even if economic incentives for political surrender are being offered. If such a plan were to be imposed by force it would not bring peace, but harden the existing harsh, apartheid regime by which Israel controls Palestinian resistance activity and collectively punishes the Palestinian people as a whole. To call such a plan ‘a deal,’ much less ‘the deal of the century’ is outrageous. Better to be known as ‘the farce of the century.

3– What are the main criticisms by you of this new peace plan?

F- It is unfair to the Palestinian people and completely ignores their fundamental rights, and overlooks the historical reality of Palestine having been a predominantly Arab country for centuries. As explained, what is offered is one-sided, and promises the Palestinian people a better life materially in exchange for abandoning their political agenda, and legal entitlements. Instead it is asking the Palestinians to accept a position of permanent victimization on a larger, but similar scale to the realities faced by the people of Gaza since the Israeli ‘disengagement’ plan of 2005 was implemented. That Sharon plan for Gaza involved complete border control and total vulnerability to Israel’s frequent uses of force. The Trump proposed deal amount to the Gazaization of all of Occupied Palestine, and that is not an acceptable vision of Palestine’s future.

4– Do you think this new peace plan was built to make concessions to israeli instead of Palestinian people?

F- There seems to me to be no doubt that inducing the Palestinians to reject the Trump initiative should have been anticipated, but whether that was the idea from the outset, is hard to tell. If the Israelis accept the Trump Plan as the basis for negotiations, the Palestinian refusal would be portrayed as rejecting an opportunity for peace, and an opting for war and terrorism. Along this line of reasoning the whole diplomatic fuss is nothing more than a public relations scheme to help Israel gain respect in international public opinion.

The Trump plan seems designed to declare a victory disguised as a diplomatic accommodation, trading Palestinian political defeat for some promised promise of improved living standards. Having struggled for more than a century to keep their Palestinian homeland from being completely taken over by Israel, there is no reason that their defeat can be ratified by accepting such a humiliating outcome to their long struggle. The Trump plan will fail, and deserves this fate. It is unjust and wrongly neglects Palestinian rights under international law.

A final observation—in the post-colonial era a mobilized people will not give up their insistence on exercising their right of self-determination, which can be argued to create a legal foundation for Palestinian claims of statehood without any need for negotiations. If Israel is viewed, despite the historical complexity of its background and the Jewish claim of biblical entitlement, as a settler colonial state, then a Palestinian right of secession exists at least with respect to that part of Palestine occupied since 1967.

5 – What kind of comments would you add?

The release of Trump’s plan seems to have generated far less interest and enthusiasm, except on Netanyahu’s, and likely majority opinion in Israel, than I expected. It may be too soon to be confident that this first impression will turn out to be accurate. What seems clear from the timing and mode of release is that the Trump/Kushner plan is intended to help Netanyahu prevail in the upcoming Israeli elections, and will also be useful to Trump with respect to Evangelical and hard-core Jewish support in the presidential election in November. There is some reason to believe, whether knowingly or not, the plan, and the pre-release one sidedness was designed to ensure a Palestinian rejection, allowing Israel to embrace the plan and claim to seek peace, as well as go forward with unilateral moves such as annexing the Jordan Valley.

6 – How do you see also fact return of Palestinian refugees will be impossible, as Netanyahu told, and Jerusalem will continue indivisible?

The failure to address the issue of Palestinian refugees in a responsible manner is both a deficiency in the proposal, and a tragic humanitarian evasion. Palestinian refugee population, estimated at over five million, have long languished in a variety of refugee camps, without rights or decent life conditions. There can be no peace as long as this situation persists.

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Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, Distinguished Research Fellow, Orfalea Center of Global Studies, UCSB, author, co-author or editor of 60 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to two three-year terms as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and associated with the local campus of the University of California, and for several years chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is On Nuclear Weapons, Denuclearization, Demilitarization, and Disarmament (2019).

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