On Tuesday at noon, after three years of meaningless suspense, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided what the fate of the Palestinians would be in a room bereft of a single Palestinian. Drawing on the “tragic” conditions that Palestinians have to live under and the economic largess Palestinians would supposedly enjoy should they concede to the proposal, Trump and Netanyahu made their terms for us clear: Capitulate completely or suffer indefinitely.
It is this choice, between a gilded cage or bleak ruin, which is the cornerstone of Trump’s ”peace plan.”
International law, Israel’s occupation and Israel’s blockade over my home, Gaza, didn’t warrant a single mention in Trump’s proposal. Instead, the plan suggests that it’s us, the Palestinians, who are solely to blame for our oppression. Our poverty and the lack of future we face are mentioned but as an inherent feature of our existence, rather than the outcome of deliberate impoverishment and immiseration under Israel’s occupation.
Our oppression is framed as the outcome of our struggle against it.
Furthermore, all of Jerusalem is to be placed under Israeli control, per Trump’s proposal, while Palestinians conditionally will be granted a couple of small Arab neighborhoods entirely outside Jerusalem’s security barrier on which to declare a capital.
And the cause of Palestinian refugees is to be entirely dismissed. “There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the state of Israel,” states this “peace” plan. Israel not only gets to annex both the Jordanian valley and settlements all across the West Bank, but even gets to rid itself of its Arab Triangle Communities by transferring them to the PA’s areas of limited self-rule. No Palestinian leader would ever dare to acquiesce to such terms.
This is the inevitable end point of Trump and Bibi’s racist agenda: a green light to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens who live in northern Israel.— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) January 28, 2020
In return, Palestinians are being offered a generous helping of nothing, and only if they fulfill a list of incapacitating and impossible conditions which will render us worthy of this insulting offer. The proposal suggests giving us four more years of the status quo to negotiate with Israel what our future “state” would look like and to which borders it would be confined. Such a “state” would of course lack any kind of sovereignty; established in discontiguous cantons, Israel’s occupation forces would have free rein inside — framed as “an overriding security responsibility for the state of Palestine” — and Israel would further control our access to the world.
In effect, Trump’s proposal stipulates that we simply give up every one of our national principles and aspirations and abandon the very core values of our struggle for freedom, justice and dignity while watching the victorious Israeli right celebrate; and then we may beg Israel for the least terrible fate it can conceive of.
Trump’s team might as well have spared us the cheap theatrics. Instead, they might have tried a more honest approach and simply demanded that we Palestinians declare our surrender.
For in essence, Trump’s proposal is no deal, contains no plan and has nothing to do with peace; it’s merely a declaration of Israel’s victory over us.
Regardless of whether we accept or reject the deal, the result is the same: Israel gets to annex any territory it wants without waiting, as Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, just admitted.
It’s a win-win solution for Netanyahu and Trump to boast about to impress their extreme constituents — having crushed the Palestinian cause and flouted international law. But at the end of the day, it’s us — the Israeli and Palestinian people — who pay the price of perpetual conflict for such political stunts.
This grand performance today should be a final wake up call for us — Israelis and Palestinians — to extend our hands to each other and decide our fate together. Bullies like Trump and Netanyahu only fear strength and collective action, both of which we can show only through our solidarity with one another.
Muhammad Shehada is a contributing columnist for the Forward.