The Trump peace plan buries Palestinian hopes
Notes on the Revolution / Column #64
January 31, 2020
Trump’s peace plan of the century continues a historic trend of devaluing the peoples of the earth
By Charles McKelvey
Prior to the Jewish migration to Palestine from Europe during the nineteenth century, Palestine had an indigenous Jewish population, but it comprised less than 3%. The nineteenth century Jewish immigration from Europe raised the Jewish-Arab ration to 6%. This early European Jewish immigration lacked the characteristics of European settler colonialism, inasmuch as the Jewish settlers adapted to Palestinian society, and their percentage remained low. However, immigration with qualities of European settler colonialism began in the period 1919 to 1923, when 35,000 Jews, mainly from Russia and Poland, settled in northern Palestine. More immigrants arrived in the late 1920s, and Tel Aviv became a regionally important town of 40,000 inhabitants. But by the 1930s, the Jewish population was still no more than 10%.
A new wave of European Jewish immigration just before and during World War II increased the Jewish population to nearly equal to the Arab. The new immigrants did not take the land by force. They bought the land, but they bought it mostly from absentee landlords. Having resources much greater than the local inhabitants, they ended up as landholders living among landless peasants, similar to French immigrants in Algeria.
Jews needed a secure place of refuge in the context of the horrors of fascism and genocide. They believed that their migration to Palestine involved their coming home to a land that was theirs by right, in that their ancestors had lived there prior to 135 CE, and they had lived in diaspora without ever abandoning their hope of return. However, as Tamim Ansary has written, “Arabs were not persuaded by a religious doctrine that assigned the land they inhabited to another people, especially since the religion was not theirs.”
In 1947, the United Nations crafted a proposal that divided the territory into two new nations, Israel and Palestine, which were roughly equal in size. The Arab world, however, did not accept this solution. From their point of view, Ansary writes, Arabs “felt that a European solution was being imposed on them for a European problem, or more precisely that Arabs were being asked to sacrifice their land as compensation for a crime visited by Europeans on Europeans.”
On May 15, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Syria, Jordan, and Egypt attacked. The war that was the Israeli war of independence was a catastrophe for Arabs, leaving seven hundred thousand Palestinians, the majority of the Palestinian population, as refugees in neighboring Arab countries, homeless and stateless, their land having been annexed by Israel and Jordan.
From the Arab point of view, the creation of Israel symbolized the devaluation of Arabs. In Ansary’s words, “The emergence of Israel had emblematic meaning for them. It meant that Arabs (and Muslims generally) had no power, that imperialists could take any part of their territory, and that no one outside the Muslim world would side with them against a patent injustice. The existence of Israel signified European dominance over Muslims, Arab and non-Arab, and over the people of Africa and Asia generally.”
There is reflected here a fundamental difference of perspective, rooted in the global phenomenon of European colonial domination, and the Third World experience of the colonial situation. As Ansary writes, “In the context of the European narrative, the Jews were victims. In the context of the Arab narrative, they were colonizers with much the same attitude toward the indigenous population as their fellow Europeans.”
Since 1967, Israel has militarily occupied land that was intended by the United Nations in 1947 to be part of the new state of Palestine. On June 5, 1967, Israel simultaneously attacked Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. None of the Arab states were expecting the attack, and they were not prepared. In the Six-Day War, Ansary notes, “Israel conquered all the territories penciled in by the United Nations as the state of Palestine. These became instead the Occupied Territories, ruled by Israel but populated mostly by Palestinians.”
Since 1967, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured, unresolved. Israel has experienced ever increasing insurgencies from the Occupied Territories. In 1993 and 1994, agreements were reached between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel, establishing limited Palestinian self-government in the Occupied Territories. But these limited agreements have been compromised by Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and by continuous Israeli military attacks, for the most part condemned by the United Nations. Presently, there are 127 Israeli settlements, with 430 thousand Jews in Transjordan and 201,200 in East Jerusalem.
The Trump peace plan for the Middle East, presented as a historic settlement of the unresolved conflict, reflects the historic colonialist devaluation of the Palestinian people. The devaluation is of course reflected in the arrogance of formulating a supposed resolution of the conflict without one of the parties being present. And it is reflected by the comment of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who supervised the formulation of the plan, that Palestinian leaders ought to “stop posturing” and accept the plan. In Kushner’s view, apparently the Palestinian people do not have a point of view that one should take into account and attempt to address.
In the January 28 issue of El Periódico, Ricardo Mir de Francia writes that Trump’s proposal “establishes the foundation for the Israeli annexation of Jewish settlements in Transjordan and the occupied stretch of the Jordan Valley, one of the most fertile and coveted regions of the Palestinian territory. It also reaffirms the de facto Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. And it obligates the Palestinians to disarm and to renounce the return of the refugees as an indispensable condition for obtaining a State.” He notes that Israel agrees to not construct new settlements “in the territory designed for the future Palestinian State” during the four years allowed for the negotiation of the plan. But that territory does not include, he points out, sections of Transjordan that presently have dozens of Israeli settlements. Moreover, to ultimately attain a Palestinian state, Palestinians would have to “recognize Israel as a Jewish state and renounce the right of the refugees to return.” In Mir’s view, “the future Palestinian state would be like a State without control of its frontiers, airspace, or security.”
Trump’s proposal was immediately rejected by all the Palestinian factions and some of its Arab neighbors. The National Palestinian Authority has declared that it rejects the proposal, and that it will oppose it through peaceful means. The Authority declared that it continues to be committed to an end to the Israeli occupation and to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. At the same time, the United Nations remains committed to a solution that takes into account the pre-1967 border and is consistent with UN resolutions emitted by the Security Council and General Assembly.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs have declared that the Trump plan is not a peace plan but a plan of annexation that seeks to legitimate the Israeli occupation of the region and that has as its intention the killing of the two-state solution, the robbery of Palestinian lands, and the termination of the Palestinian cause.
Cuba, too, joins in the voice of condemnation of the arrogant, colonialist proposal. Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez wrote on Tritter, “I repudiate the biased and deceitful peace plan of the United States that consecrates the Israeli occupation and violates the inalienable right of the Palestinians to have their own state with pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with the return of the refugees.”
The Trump proposal has been formulated in a manner that violates established principles of conflict resolution, and it was announced as a political show. Taking this into account, and taking into account as well its one-sided character, perhaps it should not be taken seriously as a peace proposal. Perhaps instead it should be seen as a strategy of the Trump administration to establish a clear and committed political position, which will have a positive reverberation in Trump’s conservative base, in anticipation of the elections of November 2020. On the other hand, if taken seriously as a proposal, it could be said that its intention is to cast aside negotiations, agreements, and resolutions to date, many of which have been sanctioned by both the United States and the United Nations, and to begin negotiations over again from the beginning, and from a perspective that reflects the Israeli point of view.
This is Charles McKelvey, reflecting on the unfolding global popular socialist revolution forged by our peoples in defense of humanity.
Ansary, Tamim. 2009. Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. New York: Public Affairs.
Mir de Francia, Ricardo. 2020. “El 'plan de paz' de Trump entierra las aspiraciones palestinas” [The Trump ‘peace plan’ buries Palestinian aspirations], El Periódico, January 28.
Prashad, Vijay. 2007. The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World. New York: The New Press.
Schulze, Reinhard. 2000. A Modern History of the Islamic World. New York: New York University Press.
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