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The goal of Trump’s ‘peace deal’ has always been to get us Palestinians to reject it

After three years of constant procrastination, President Trump’s Middle East team suddenly announced this week they were ready to reveal their “peace proposal” by Tuesday.

Muhammad Shehada | artist: Noah Lubin

Muhammad Shehada | artist: Noah Lubin

The plan, which is reported to greenlight major Israeli annexations in the West Bank, is viewed by most analysts as a clear political stunt, an attempt to boost Netanyahu’s chances of reelection and a trick to force his main rival, Benny Gantz, to concede to another Netanyahu term; how could he oppose a deal that’s so advantageous to Israel without being seen as a traitor?

But the truth is, the main goal of this deal is to kill off the last remaining remnants of the peace process.

Nothing telegraphs this better than the fact that Trump has not invited a single Palestinian to the unveiling of his scam. Of course he didn’t; Trump’s peace plan is meant to be “unexecutable,” in the words of Trump’s own Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who told the the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a closed-door meeting that parts of it are, “one might argue, unexecutable.”

No doubt, he’s right. Every version of what’s been reported of the plan stipulates that Palestinians should give up virtually everything we have ever aspired to in return for a mess of pottage far less than the minimum of what we already accepted in the historic compromise of the 1993 Oslo accords.

Every aspect of the plan is intended specifically to weaken and humiliate us, to bait us into rejecting the deal in order to give Netanyahu an alibi for unilateral annexation — and then blame us, the victims, for the outcome.

The release of this con next Tuesday represents not the beginning of Trump’s “peace plan” but rather its very conclusion. Since Trump took office, Palestinians have only experienced one humiliation after another from this administration, from Trump’s unilateral gifting of our capital, East Jerusalem, to Israel, to his assault on Palestinian refugees’ right of return, to his cutting all funds to the Palestinian Authority, UNRWA, Palestinian hospitals, USAID in the occupied territories and even co-existence groups.

It’s now clearer than ever that this was all done to drive us away from rather than back to the table.

All of these steps were conducted alongside an insistence that such a grave assault on us should somehow lead to peace, with a heavy side of trolling by Trump’s team. It was all done to drive Palestinians further and further away from Washington and the negotiation table, effectively forcing us into the audience to watch our future be determined by others without having any say in it.

Now we watch as the Trump team together with Netanyahu destroys the two-state solution forever, as they plan to annex of the very areas in the West Bank that would make a Palestinian state viable.

And yet, when we do turn down this ridiculous deal, we’ll be called “rejectionists.” We’ll have to read articles and social media posts ad nauseum about how “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity,” and it is us who will be blamed for the irrevocable damage that would ensue from the Israel’s formalization of apartheid with Trump’s blessing.

The truth is, this has been the goal all along.

Muhammad Shehada is a contributing columnist for the Forward.

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