[ Based on CORREIO BRAZILIENSE, Jan. 28, 2020, Interview by Rodrigo Craveiro on Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’]
1– Why are Palestinian leaders rejecting to talk with president Trump about this new peace plan?
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 most weak 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?
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 criticism by you of this new peace plan?
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?
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.