By ALI OZKOK, TRT World
The US president wants to force Palestinians to agree to a fragmented mini-state. A Palestinian political analyst tells TRT World that the problem lies in the lack of sovereignty of the Palestinian state.
As US President Donald Trump unveiled his ‘Deal of the Century’, a pointless attempt to resolve the vexed Israel-Palestine conflict, many Middle East experts cold-shouldered the plan saying it is bereft of impartiality and lacked a feasible option for the Palestinan people.
TRT World spoke to Yousef Alhelou, a Palestinian journalist and political analyst based in London, who focuses on media and colonialism.
TRT WORLD: Trump announced his new Middle East plan in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What consequences do you think this controversial plan will have on the political status of the Palestinian territories?
YOUSEF ALHELOU: Well the US Middle East peace plan dubbed as Deal of the Century is totally rejected by every single Palestinian (that is about 13 to 14 million Palestinians, seven million inside the occupied Palestinians and seven million in exile and in the Diaspora). Hundreds took to the streets across Gaza and the West Bank to show their anger and rejection to the US plan, with Palestinian political factions convening to discuss their reaction measures.
The deal is a receipt for more wars, bloodshed and complications, not peace. The Israeli bullying and American dictation has to stop. The deal and the previous decisions related to Palestine taken by Trump are in violation of the international legal system. Israel and the US have to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians within historic Palestine.
While Netanyahu was present in Washington at the announcement of the plan, not a single Palestinian representative was on the ground. How much or how little was the Palestinian side involved in drawing up the peace plan?
YA: The Palestinian side was not consulted on the details of the agreement that had been promised for three years. Let us not forget that Washington imposed sanctions on the Palestinian Authority because it rejected Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.
Can you list the specific reasons why the Palestinian side rejects US initiatives in the conflict with Israel?
YA: They are rejected simply because they are in Israel’s favour and do not offer a just solution for the Palestinians who have been suffering since 1948 and who are seeking self-determination in a recognised state. They do not offer a solution for the millions of Palestinian refugees who are scattered around the world, waiting to return to their homes in historic Palestine. The US does not recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. The map, which was published and tweeted by Trump himself, is a provocation to the Palestinians, because this map points to a micro-mini state in the form of small islands that are more or less interconnected. These islands are to be connected by 15 bridges and tunnels. This is simply another form of occupation.
Furthermore, it does not indicate that the Israeli military occupation is to end or that the Palestinian State is to be recognised. Nor does it mean that there is any apology for the suffering caused over the last seven decades. The plan includes a four-year transitional period after which the Palestinians will be given their own mini-state. However, it does not have any sovereignty or influence.
On what basis would the Palestinians accept negotiations with the United States for their own state?
YA: The Palestinians would accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. This is based on UN Resolution 181, which defines the plan for Palestine adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 1947.
The US plans to invest up to 50 billion US dollars in the Palestinian economy if the Palestinian side accepts Trump’s plan. How is the political establishment in Palestine dealing with the offer?
YA: There is no doubt that the Palestinians are dependent on financial support from the West and some rich Arab Gulf states. They are the weaker side here, and Trump expects them to accept what is offered at the negotiating table. This could lead to pressure on and blackmail of the Palestinians to make more concessions and compromises.
But the fact is that the Palestinian Authority had already rejected a US offer for a 50 billion dollar economic recovery plan during a workshop in Bahrain last June. That would have boosted the economy of the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states, but the Palestinians will not succumb to economic blackmail. The problem is a political one.
The Palestinian cause has become a burden for many, but it is up to the Palestinians to decide their fate and the next step. Netanyahu is under domestic political pressure. His immunity is at risk.
To what extent can Trump’s Middle East plan be seen as a welcome opportunity to re-establish himself as a legitimate political leader in the eyes of Israeli society?
YA: Trump has given Netanyahu many gifts, most notably in December 2017, when he declared Jerusalem the eternal and undivided capital of Israel and moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And when he withdrew all financial support from the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA – the UN agency that serves millions of Palestinian refugees.
Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu and the generous offers are a continuation of the mutual aid. They see themselves as friends in need, because Trump and Netanyahu are in the same boat. The former is facing impeachment proceedings, while the latter is accused of corruption, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases and bribery in one case – as he is doing his best to obtain immunity.