Trump/Netanyahu Diplomacy: Orientalism by any Other Name

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, ANGLO AMERICA, MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA, PALESTINE - ISRAEL, 10 Feb 2020

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

1 Feb 2020 – Based on Javad Heiran-Nia’s interview (1 Feb 2020) on ‘the deal of the century.

1-Trump announced at the unveiling of the Deal of the Century, insisting that these proposals are a just plan for peace. Do you think that this plan serves Palestinian interests?

This so-called contribution to ‘peace’ requires Palestine to give up its most fundamental rights, and accept a permanent condition of subjugation and victimization. It is framed in such a one-sided pro-Israel manner as if designed to ensure its instant and overwhelming rejection by Palestinian government representatives and by Palestinian public opinion. The plan is nothing other than a thinly disguised geopolitical power play as overseen by Netanyahu and Trump to promote their own political agendas and safeguard their leadership positions, which are currently under fire in both Israel and the United States.

The Trump Plan perpetuates, institutionalizes, deepens, and seeks to validate the current Israeli apartheid state, and also purports to extend legal protection by conferring Israeli sovereignty to land-grabs of those Palestinian territories that have languished under occupation and a variety of Israeli encroachments ever since 1967. The plan reduces Palestinian legitimate presence from the 22% under occupation after the 1967 War to a 15% remnant, essentially the urban Palestinian communities in the West Bank and some uninhabitable land in the western Negev.

2-One of Trump’s goals for unveiling the plan is to help Netanyahu get rid of his internal troubles. Does this help Netanyahu get into power in Israel, given his possible trial?

It seems to express the view, likely to be popular with some voters in Israel, that Netanyahu was able to twist Trump’s arm, as no other Israeli politician could have done, sufficiently to achieve almost everything that the Zionist Movement ever dreamed of achieving—a de facto one-state solution that permanently submits all of Palestine to the direct and indirect control of Israel, declared by the Israeli Basic Law in 2018 to be exclusively the nation-state of the Jewish people, obliterating the rights and equal standing of the non-Jewish minorities. What is called ‘a state’ in the plan’s text is not a state as understood in diplomacy, as it is denied the elemental rights of a sovereign state under international law, and commits the Palestinians living under occupation to permanent Gaza-like conditions and leaves the more than five million Palestinian refugees out in the cold, denying their right of return to wherever their former residences were located.

3-What should the Palestinians do to counter this plan?

Raise their voices at the UN and elsewhere to make clear that the plan is a farce and a fraud, and worse, an international crime; demonstrate with resolve and telling slogans, including shaming the Arab countries that showed support for the deal; encourage the BDS Campaign to exert maximum pressure; ask governments and the UN to impose sanctions; seek legal confirmation of Palestinian rights at the World Court in The Hague; insist upon a new diplomatic framework to address the Israel/Palestine conflict free from the distorted and absurdly biased leadership provided by the United States over many years, including the pre-Trump period. It is clearer than ever that Palestinian rights will only be achieved by determined struggle, by isolating Israel, by global solidarity pressures, and by holding the Israeli government and its leaders accountable for imposing criminal policies.

4-Why have Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt agreed to this plan?

Two main reasons: 1) these Arab governments are threatened by any democratizing movement, especially among Arabs, and fear that the achievement of Palestinian self-determination will destabilize their own oppressive governing arrangements; 2) to ensure continuing support for their anti-Iranian and Sunni regional priorities from the Trump presidency.

Such agreement by governing elites is not at all a reflection of popular sentiments in these countries, whose peoples continue to be strongly supportive of the Palestinian struggle, but helpless to influence their autocratic governments.

5- This plan is in contradiction with UN resolutions and there has been no consultation with the Palestinian side. How is the US and Israel going to accept Palestine?

The Trump Plan not only ignores international law, it makes proposals that flagrantly and defiantly violate such basic provisions as the prohibition on acquiring territory by force reaffirmed in Security Council Resolution 242. Also, by institutionalizing an oppressive governing arrangement that relies on racial discrimination, the plan institutionalizes apartheid, which is defined as ‘a crime against humanity’ in Article 7(j) of the Rome Statute that controls the operations of the International Criminal Court.

Israel and the U.S. will first have to agree to dismantle the apartheid elements of the Israeli state as a vital precondition for diplomatic progress toward a sustainable and just peace that reflect a commitment to the equality of Jews and Arabs, of Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Without satisfying this precondition for a peace process, it is delusionary to expect an end to a conflict over land and rights that has gone on for more than a century.

6- While Trump calls the plan fair, it has violated the rights of the Palestinian people. Is this plan feasible?

It is a plan so manifestly unfair as to be best interpreted as designed to fail, an outcome already prefigured by near universal Palestinian rejection. As such, the Trump/Netanyahu approach apparently relies on its capacity to impose a solution on the Palestinian people, and label it ‘peace.’ Seen more realistically, the plan is a naked attempt to declare unilaterally an Israeli victory and to make the world believe that the Palestinian struggle has become a lost cause, hoping that a kind of bribery provision to the effect that if Palestinians will admit defeat and make a formal declaration of political surrender, their life will become better if measured by living standards.

The arrangements offered to the Palestinians as a whole resemble what the people of Gaza have endured since 2007 and what was attempted by South African apartheid in his latter stages through the establishment of encircled, powerless bantustans in remote areas of the country where the African population was required to live in misery and humiliation. Such schemes in the post-colonial world are recipes for violent struggle, and should not be confused with genuine attempts to move by mutual agreement from war to peace or oppression to constitutional democracy. The ‘deal of the century’ turns out to be Orientalism on steroids!

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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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