By Noa Liungman
Fueled by territorial disputes and religious entitlement, the Israel-Palestine conflict dates back to the early-20th century.. The complex nature of the issue makes it nearly impossible to address. To some extent, this conflict can be considered as old as the religion of Islam itself. But, whether you deem the ongoing hostilities between the two states to have begun in the 20th century, or several millennia ago, there is good reason to be skeptical of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”
In short, the plans demands Palestine to cede extensive parts of the West Bank to Israel while allowing Israeli settlements on occupied territory to remain. In exchange, the Palestinians will supposedly “fulfill the aspirations of self-determination.” The plan has been widely criticized as a one-sided, uncompromising bid in favor of the nationalistic foreign policy of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is extremely unlikely that Palestine will ever accept such a one-sided proposal. Regardless of your standpoint, a 50-page document cannot possibly hope to solve a conflict older than the president himself.
In reality, Trump’s plan resembles a blank check to Netanyahu instead of a much-needed peace proposal. Instead of resolving a deeply-rooted conflict, Trump’s “helping hand” is being used to dig Netanyahu out of a bottomless pit of scandals and accusations. Ironically, both Trump and Netanyahu are being investigated by their respective legislative bodies for corruption. The Middle East peace proposal is nothing more than a showpiece for the leaders involved to flex their political muscles.
Finding common ground is key to any negotiation. A sincere and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and Palestine should be filled to the brim with compromises. It is very clear that Trump has no such intentions. His Middle East peace proposal, amongst other things, legitimizes Israeli settlements on Palestinian soil - settlements deemed illegal by the international community - and gives Israel control over large parts of the West Bank. Additionally, it gives Israel unrestricted security control over the Gaza strip. The president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has already announced that Trump’s plan will be rejected, stating: “We say a thousand times over: no, no, no.”
From an international perspective, Trump’s proposal defies all precedence and goes against the consensus of the international community. The Oslo Accords, the basis for ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, stresses the right of self-determination for the Palestinians as represented by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, recognized by the United Nations as the “representative of the Palestinian people”. Furthermore, Israeli settlements on occupied territory are recognized as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention - deemed illegal by the UN. Trump’s peace plan risks reversing these precedents while further eroding the Palestinian position.
At this point, it is simply impossible for Israel and Palestine to agree in this case. It is very likely that Trump and his political planners are aware that the proposal will never be accepted by the Palestinians. So, what does Trump get out of it? Aside from digging a fellow right-wing political ally like Netanyahu out of a corruption scandal, Trump is using the Middle East peace proposal to appeal to his greater voter base and distract Americans from domestic controversies surrounding his time in office. Unsurprisingly, Trump prefers impulsive action over reasonable discourse. A large part of his voter base is staunchly pro-Israel, and although the deal is unlikely to have any positive outcome for the Israelis or the Palestinians, as neither group will agree to it, it sends a message to White Evangelical Christians that Trump stands up for the Israeli state.
Whether you’re pro-Israel or pro-Palestine, the Middle East peace proposal is an outrageous move of political consolidation with only one winner: Donald Trump. Neither Israel nor Palestine is likely to see any concessions. Today, both parties are further from a solution than ever before.
To read another perspective on this issue, click here.