The world is being asked to believe that cruelties and illegalities amount to a feasible Trump plan for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
But before reading the plan’s details, and to resist the odour of a sickening White House public relations exercise, the twin deceits of ‘missed opportunities’ and the ‘peace negotiations illusion’ must be identified.
A bullying US President, his real estate son-in-law and the fraudulent Israeli Prime Minister
are attempting to fool the world that it is up to the Palestinians to seize an opportunity for peace, and if they do not, it will be obvious that Israel tried its best to reach a settlement (no pun intended).This lie is a continuation of former Prime Minister Abba Eban’s infamous put down, ‘the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’Public and politicians are to be conned. Blame the victims, punish the powerless, make the illegal sound legal.
As to the peace process illusion, who in their right mind would believe that if one party is excluded from discussions, the outcome of non-existent talks can be taken seriously? The Middle East peace negotiations had always been destined to fail as long as there existed a huge diplomatic, economic and military power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians. To that imbalance has been added the Trump/Netanyahu assumption that if humiliation does not work, you humiliate people even more, that if one array of cruelties does not impress, you increase the dose.
In preparation for the peace plan celebration, Trump & Co had already built an inventory of humiliations. He had closed the PLO offices in Washington, had transferred the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority and ended support for the UN Refugee Works Association (UNRWA) which used to be the means of life support for millions of Palestinian refugees.
A picture of cruelty derives from the blue print to continue full Israeli control over the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean and everyone living in it. That means fourteen million people including 5 million Palestinians with no rights.
Here is a massive camouflage for injustice. The Palestinians can have a state which would give them local control of disconnected pieces of land to be joined by roads and tunnels, provided they recognise Israel as a Jewish state, cede the entire Jordan valley, disarm Hamas and abandon all hope for the return of refugees.Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu says, ‘If the Palestinians agree to land theft, annexation, no refugee return and no means of defence, Israel will negotiate with us.’
Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst for Al Jazeera, concludes, ‘Even after the Palestinians meet all the new conditions imposed on them, they would still be at the mercy of Israel’s security forces.’
The illegalities in the so called plan are as obvious as the cruelties. UN Resolution 242 decreed that Israel should return to 1967 borders but the Trump administration has conjured a world in which policy is what you can get away with. The idea of principle and respect for international treaties is regarded as a silly aberration from the past. Anomie rules. Bullies demand. The powerless should surrender. By Sunday morning, Netanyahu has permission to annex 131 Jewish only settlements on the West Bank, all of which are illegal.
The Australian government’s immediate response to Washington’s ‘Surrender or else’ proposals appears to have been as ingratiating as the players in the Washington/Netanyahu theatricals where the rent a crowd grovellers, sponsored by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, smirked and applauded. Oh dear ! Foreign Minister Marise Payne welcomed the release of the US ‘Vision for Peace’ and in a fawning response so characteristic of cowardly diplomacy, she said, ‘We recognise that the US must play a role in any creative peace negotiations’, even if there had not been any.
Only Palestinian freedoms, their experience of equality and dignity bolstered by respect for universal human rights could aid peace with justice (no sign of that word) between Israelis and Palestinians.
In its ignorance, or is it indifference, the Australian government, and opposition?, seem likely to imply that this country feels content with a process of humiliation, cruelty and illegality because principle, law, courage and respect for a common humanity no longer count for much. Oh Dear !
Stuart Rees, OAM, is Professor Emeritus @ the University of Sydney and inaugural recipient of the Jerusalem (Al Quds) Peace Prize