Trump Shows His Hand on Israel-Palestine – AlterNet

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For more than 15 years, the Middle East peace process initiated by the Oslo accords has been on life support. Last week, President Donald Trump pulled the plug, whether he understood it or not.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could barely stifle a smile as Trump demoted the two-state solution from holy grail. Instead, he said of resolving the conflict: I am looking at two states or one state I can live with either one.

Given the huge asymmetry of power, Israel now has a free hand to entrench its existing apartheid version of the one-state solutionGreater Israelon the Palestinians. This is the destination to which Netanyahu has been steering the Israel-Palestine conflict his entire career.

It emerged this week that at a secret summit in Aqaba last year, attended by Egypt and Jordan, and overseen by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry, Netanyahu was offered a regional peace deal that included almost everything he had demanded of the Palestinians. And still he said no.

Much earlier, in 2001, Netanyahu was secretly filmed boasting to settlers of how he had foiled the Oslo process a short time earlier by failing to carry out promised withdrawals from Palestinian territory. He shrugged off the U.S. role as something that could be easily moved to the right direction.

Now he has the White House exactly where he wanted it.

In expressing ambivalence about the final number of states, Trump may have assumed he was leaving options open for his son-in-law and presumed peace envoy, Jared Kushner. But words can take on a life of their own, especially when uttered by the president of the worlds only superpower.

Some believe Trump, faced with the regions realities, will soon revert to Washingtons playbook on two states, with the U.S. again adopting the bogus role of honest broker. Others suspect his interest will wilt, allowing Israel to intensify settlement building and its abuse of Palestinians.

The long-term effect, however, is likely to be more decisive. The one-state option mooted by Trump will resonate with both Israelis and Palestinians because it reminds each side of their historic ambitions. The international community has repeatedly introduced the chimera of the two-state solution, but for most of their histories the two sides favoured a single stateif for different reasons.

From the outset, the mainstream Zionist movement wanted an exclusive Jewish state, and a larger one than it was ever offered. Some even dreamed of the recreation of a Biblical kingdom whose borders incorporated swaths of neighboring Arab states. In late 1947, the Zionist leadership backed the United Nations partition plan for tactical reasons, knowing the Palestinians would reject the transfer of most of their homeland to recent European immigrants.

A few months later they seized more territoryin warthan the U.N. envisioned, but were still not satisfied. Religious and secular alike hungered for the rest of Palestine. Shimon Peres was among the leaders who began the settlement drive immediately following the 1967 occupation. Those territorial ambitions were muffled by Oslo, but will be unleashed again in full force by Trumps stated indifference.

The Palestinians history points in a parallel direction. As Zionism made its first inroads into Palestine, they rejected any compromise with what were seen as European colonisers.

In the 1950s, after Israels creation, the resistance under Yasser Arafat espoused a single secular democratic state in all of historic Palestine. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Palestinians growing isolation in the early 1990s, did Arafat cave in to European and U.S. pressure and sign up for partition.

But for Palestinians, Oslo has not only entailed enduring Israels constant bad faith, but it has also created a deeply compromised vehicle for self-government. The Palestinian Authority has split the Palestinian people territoriallybetween Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gazaand required a Faustian pact to uphold Israels security, including the settlers, at all costs.

The truth, obscured by Oslo, is that the one-state solution has underpinned the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for more than a century. It did not come about because each expected different things from it.

For Israelis, it was to be a fortress to exclude the native Palestinian population.

For Palestinians, it was the locus of national liberation from centuries of colonial rule. Only later did many Palestinians, especially groups such as Hamas, come to mirror the Zionist idea of an exclusiveif in their case, Islamicstate.

Trumps self-declared detachment will now revive these historic forces. Settler leader Naftali Bennett will compete with Netanyahu to take credit for speeding up the annexation of ever-greater blocs of West Bank territory while rejecting any compromise on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism.

The struggle Trumps equivocation provokes, however, must first play out in the internal politics of Israelis and Palestinians. It is a supremely clarifying moment. Each side must now define what it really wants to fight for: a fortress for their tribe alone, or a shared homeland ensuring rights and dignity for all.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

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Trump Shows His Hand on Israel-Palestine – AlterNet

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: Jewish Supremacism |

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