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What is Trump's "pact of the century" for Israelis and Palestinians?

April 14, 2019 09:43 AM
Updated on April 14, 2019 09:54 AM

With a right-wing government taking shape in Israel, it is a good time to analyze the peace plan of the Trump government for one of the most convulsive regions of the world.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the best of himself to reveal as little as possible about what President Donald Trump calls "the pact of the century," his peace plan for Palestinians and Israelis, during the four question rounds. different committees of the Congress in the last two weeks.

However, his testimony before legislators was revealing.

In relation to the planned schedule, the plan will be launched at any time between "before a long time" and "less than 20 years", according to Pompeo.

The speculation among the Israeli media is that it will be in mid-June, after the Jewish and Muslim holidays.

But, what is it about?

What is known about the plan

Fundamentally, Pompeo suggested that the initiative will not propose the creation of a Palestinian state, even though it has been a cornerstone of US policy for more than two decades.

He did not say it directly, but he seemed to frame "the two-state solution" in what he considered "an outdated and failed set of ideas, for which it is not worthwhile to happen again."

The approach of Trump's White House to the positions of Netanyahu has generated criticism | REUTERS

Pompeo insisted that the matter should be handled by the two parties involved, despite the insistent calls by the US Democratic lawmakers to make public the position of the Trump government.

Even more alarming to them, Pompeo did not express his opposition to the unilateral annexation of all or parts of the Palestinian West Bank occupied by Israel, an action that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned he could do.

And he made it clear that his government's strategy was to "recognize realities": what offers us a useful guide, taking into account that the realities that Trump's White House has recognized up to now are those of Israel.

How has American foreign policy changed under Trump?

Remember that the formula for the peace negotiations has been the following: two States based on the borders of the Arab territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war, with mutually agreed land exchanges; sufficient security arrangements; a just solution for the Palestinian refugees; and negotiations to resolve the fate of Jerusalem, whose occupied eastern part is claimed by the Palestinians as its capital.

But the Trump White House has argued that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, has cut off funds for the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees and has accepted Israel's unilateral annexation of another occupied territory, the Golan Heights.

Israel has occupied the Golan Heights for years | GETTY IMAGES

The new envoy of the US State Department to combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, has reinforced the Israeli narrative in US politics.

Carr considered that boycotting products made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank was an anti-Semitic stance, even though the settlements are illegal under international law and have expanded to such an extent that many doubt whether a Palestinian state is still viable.

"Refusing to buy products made by Jewish communities and wanting to buy products made by Arab communities living next door seems discriminatory to me," he said.

What was the answer?

The adoption of the Trump government by the position of the right-wing Israeli executive has alarmed the liberal Jewish organizations in the United States.

"What they have done so far tells you what they intend to do," says Jeremy Ben-Ami of lobbyist J Street. "They have no intention of carrying out what could possibly solve the conflict, instead they will bring the position of the American government closer to those who are further to the right in the political spectrum of Israel."

The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has boycotted US efforts, frustrating mostly the architect of the Washington plan, President Trump's son-in-law and his adviser, Jared Kushner.

Kushner, who is Jewish, is deeply interested in the relations between Israel and the United States, so the president put him in charge of finding a solution to the unsolvable conflict, according to US media reports.

Kushner and Pompeo have said that their strategy is about improving the lives of Palestinians, and that both parties will be asked to make concessions.

Details remain under lock and key, but what has been leaked in several press reports is an emphasis on multi-billion dollar aid from the Arab Gulf States for the Palestinian economy; the preference for Palestinian autonomy instead of the Palestinian state, and consolidate Israel's military domination in the West Bank.

And the Palestinian reaction?

A new poll showed that a large majority of Palestinians support their leader's rejection of the initiative, because they believe there is no intention to fulfill any of their fundamental national demands.

Jerusalem has always been one of the main points of contention between Israel and Palestine | GETTY IMAGES

Abbas is very unpopular. But on a recent trip to Jerusalem, they told me – anecdotally – that the Palestinians at least give it credit for showing firmness in three crucial aspects: Jerusalem, the refugees and keeping the funds for the Palestinian prisoners – which the Israelis consider terrorists – despite financial pressure.

Under the harsh interrogation before Congress, Pompeo did recognize that for the peace plan to work, it should be accepted by both Israelis and Palestinians.

"For there to be a peaceful resolution," he said, "Palestinian society will have to agree that (the plan) makes sense."

Under this standard, all the indicators that are held so far point to the fact that the "pact of the century" will be a failure. But we will wait until the plan is revealed, in two months or 20 years.


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