Israel Doesn’t Want the “Deal of the Century” to Annex Palestinian Land

On January 28, US President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian battle, which he hailed because the “deal of the century.” That is the most recent try by the US to mediate between the Israelis and Palestinians and finish the seven-decade-old dispute.

The deal sparked outrage by the
Palestinians however was praised by the Israelis. Though the plan addresses
controversial points akin to Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees and the
standing of Jerusalem, many observers have rebuffed it as one-sided.

The plan units out each political and
financial steps for peace. For the Israelis, Jerusalem can be the undivided
capital of Israel. They might even have full management over Jewish settlements in
the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem, and Israel would retain many of the
territories it captured in the course of the 1967 struggle. For the Palestinians, the West
Financial institution can be linked to the Gaza Strip through a tunnel or freeway. Nonetheless, the
Palestinians must relinquish virtually 40% of the West Financial institution and would
have their capital in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village within the Jerusalem
Governorate. The framework additionally incorporates financial benefits which might be supplied
to the Palestinians, together with an funding of $50 billion and 1 million jobs.

Honest Observer Debates the Trump-Kushner “Deal of the Century”


In a televised assertion shortly after the deal went public, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reacted to it by stating: “[W]e say one thousand instances no, no, no to the Deal of the Century.” In a joint communique, the Arab League emphasised that it will not cooperate within the enforcement of the plan. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed the peace plan and mentioned: “[T]he deal of the century is the chance of a century, and we’re not going to go it by.”

Antony Loewenstein is a Jerusalem-based
Australian journalist. His newest ebook is “Capsules, Powder and Smoke: Contained in the
Bloody Conflict on Medication.” Loewenstein has written extensively on the
Israeli-Palestinian battle and is a frequent commentator on TRT World, CNN
and Al Jazeera.

On this version of The Interview, Honest Observer talks to Loewenstein in regards to the “deal of the century,” Israeli settlements within the West Financial institution and the position of worldwide organizations in settling the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

This interview passed off earlier than the current
Israeli elections. The transcript has been edited for readability.

Kourosh Ziabari: No Palestinian official
attended the White Home announcement on the “deal of the century.” The
attendees have been evangelicals and the entourage of President Donald Trump and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Does it matter to Trump if the
Palestinians understand the deal as disproportionately biased?

Antony Loewenstein: I feel the goal is to indicate that. It’s fairly clear that, for a
very long time, the shut coordination between the Israeli authorities and the
American administration is to virtually assure that the Palestinian Authority
and Hamas, for that matter, will reject it. So, they’ll then flip round and
say: You see, we gave them a deal and it was an incredible deal, however they didn’t need
it. Now we’ve got to go on and proceed with our plan which is annexation,
indefinite apartheid, and so forth.

So, to me, in reality, the thought was that
Palestinians would reject it — they knew that they’d, virtually actually.
It’s laborious to see how they may ever think about that the Palestinian management would
settle for this deal — and it’s probably not a deal, it’s extra of a gun to the top.
It’s mainly saying that you don’t have any selection however to just accept this. And in the event you
don’t settle for this so-called deal, then you’ll not be handled with respect.

And to truly launch a peace deal in
which one of many two sides aren’t current and haven’t been concerned in
drafting the method, and the important thing individuals who drafted it have been all Orthodox Jews
who assist the unlawful settlements within the West Financial institution, says all it’s essential know
about what sort of absurd deal that is.

Ziabari: You mentioned the People knew
from the start that Palestinians would reject the peace plan. Within the
interim, the White Home revealed a map, delineating the longer term composition of
Palestinian lands and Israeli territory. The Palestinian response has been
stringent, saying they’ll not settle for this deal underneath any circumstances. Contemplating
the map has been revealed, do you suppose that’s the inexperienced gentle for Israel to
annex extra Palestinian lands, together with the Jordan Valley, and to construct extra
settlements within the West Financial institution?

Loewenstein: I feel it’s virtually inevitable and, in reality, one of many issues that
is necessary to recollect is, in some methods, that Israel doesn’t even want this
deal. I imply they’re annexing territory to an extent now anyway. There’s
at present in Israel and Palestine a “one-state” resolution. It’s an apartheid
state for Palestinians within the West Financial institution, Gaza and the Jordan Valley, however what
it means virtually on the bottom is that Israel has the liberty to do what it
desires. There’s one civilian legislation for Israeli Jews within the West Financial institution and one legislation
for Palestinians, which is a army rule, and that’s discriminatory and
apartheid by definition.

So, does the map assure Israel will
proceed on its half? I feel the reply is: sure. However Israel doesn’t want the
Trump plan or the Trump map or the Trump deal to try this. They’re doing it
anyway and, frankly, they’ve been doing that for years.

The issue with this concern just isn’t Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a horrible, racist president, however he has solely accelerated the traits that have been taking place right here already. These issues have been created lengthy earlier than Trump — for many years, in reality — by the Republican and Democratic presidents who allowed Israel to occupy and discriminate in opposition to Palestinians with none punishment, together with Democratic presidents akin to [Barack] Obama. So, Trump is actually not the issue right here; Trump has merely made the issue worse, for positive, however when he leaves workplace, Israel would virtually actually proceed behaving because it does as a result of there’s actually no worldwide stress on them to cease them.  

Ziabari: Do you suppose the financial
incentives of Trump’s “imaginative and prescient for peace,” together with tripling Palestine’s GDP,
investing $50 billion within the new state and creating 1 million new jobs for
Palestinians over the following 10 years, are engaging sufficient to fulfill the
Palestinians and compel them to just accept the plan?

Loewenstein: Properly, I’ve learn not one Palestinian who’s accepted it. That’s fairly
a lot all it’s essential know. I can’t say there’s not one Palestinian amongst 5 million
within the West Financial institution or Gaza who do settle for it, however I’ve learn nobody who says they
settle for it. And, to be clear, the supply that Trump has apparently placed on the
desk just isn’t really that sum of money — it’s an aspiration for that quantity
of cash, perhaps down the observe if Palestinians settle for a demilitarized, weak,
broken-up state.

So, frankly, I’m not shocked Palestinians
received’t settle for it and reject it, and in the event you’re a logical, wise particular person, you
would as nicely. So, I feel actually that the difficulty right here is Israel and the US can
throw cash on the drawback however, in the end, until you make a political deal and
you really think about what an equitable resolution might be, this drawback will
proceed to worsen.

And that can occur if Netanyahu loses the
upcoming election as a result of it’s the third Israeli election in a yr taking place
in early March; he may win or he may lose. We don’t know but, in fact,
however the probably different, the opposition chief, thinks just about in
precisely the identical approach. He helps annexing territory. He’s a right-winger in
Israel. He doesn’t see Palestinians as equal human beings.

So, the unhappy actuality politically right here, in
Israel not less than, is that each main sides of politics suppose precisely the identical
approach. In truth, even earlier than Trump’s plan, Benny Gantz, the main opposition
chief, flew to Washington to primarily meet Trump and provides him his blessing
for the plan, primarily saying that if I win the election in March and I
change into prime minister, I’ll transfer ahead with that plan as Netanyahu will if he
wins. So, this can be a very elaborate however sick sport that the Israeli elites are
taking part in, as a result of Palestinians are merely seen as irrelevant and seen as
subhuman and it’s not stunning, subsequently, that each sane Palestinian would
100% reject this deal.

Ziabari: The Group for Islamic
Cooperation has rejected President Trump’s peace plan and referred to as on its 57
member states to not cooperate within the implementation of the deal. Does the
refusal of main Muslim international locations to work on the enforcement of the deal have an effect on
its prospects for fulfillment?

Loewenstein: Properly, the quick reply is it has no affect. I imply, that’s the unhappy actuality. There are numerous dozens of Muslim international locations around the globe, I do know, however they’ve nearly no affect or affect on Israel or the US, and it’s necessary to know that plenty of Muslim, Arab states are, in reality, seeking to perhaps make a take care of Israel. They could not settle for the Trump peace plan, however they’re more and more shut with Israel; they’re very eager to isolate Iran; they’re eager to share protection preparations; they’re eager to get Israeli weapons and surveillance know-how.

That’s the fact of what’s taking place within the Center East. And naturally, Israel may be very glad about that. For many years, the Arab world was notably united in opposition to Israel. That has radically modified within the final 10 years. On paper, sure, many leaders got here out and they’re against the peace plan, however in observe, it really may be very completely different. It’s very conceivable that both some will settle for the peace plan or a model of it as a result of they’re so eager to change into near Israel due to their concern of Iran.

Ziabari: Once more, on the peace plan, Jared
Kushner, the primary architect of the deal, has mentioned Palestinians have repeatedly
missed alternatives for peace, and that they need to settle for the deal in the event that they
need a viable state of their very own. Do you suppose this plan is genuinely what is going to
assure an impartial Palestinian state and produce an finish to the
seven-decade-old battle, or was Kushner merely making an attempt to promote his deal by
saying so?

Loewenstein: Jared Kushner was being a typical colonial grasp saying how his misbehaving topics, the Palestinians, weren’t behaving properly. I imply it’s mainly the agenda of Kushner. He has spent his whole life round Israeli settlements. His household helps the settlements. Kushner is a right-wing fundamentalist and so the concept that somebody like him and all the opposite individuals round him who drafted this plan — David Friedman and others — have any actual intention or understanding or care about Palestinians, the reply is not any as a result of what’s instructed just isn’t a viable Palestinian state.

If Palestinians have a selection between the established order and the prospect of some form of state, which isn’t actually a state — with no independence, no military, no freedom of motion actually, no capability to go out and in as you please — as a result of Israel in the end is the grasp of that state, it’s very cheap that they’ll reject it, which is what they’ve performed.

In the mean time, there isn’t a viable
different on the desk, however the problem now’s for Palestinians as a mass
motion, each inside Palestine and globally to plot a brand new technique which
may contain, for instance, a “one-person, one-vote” marketing campaign, to say that the
two-state resolution is useless, it’s been useless arguably for 20 years, and now we
demand equal rights within the state — which is, to me, a global legislation
requirement and likewise a really reliable declare. And that’s one thing, I feel, that
rising numbers of Palestinians do assist, are speaking about it and that has
to be emphasised with the management, specifically the Palestinian Authority and

However let’s be clear: The management in
Palestine is a part of the issue as nicely. They’re corrupt and so they’ve been in
energy for a lot too lengthy. They’ve not had free and truthful elections for a really lengthy
time. Many Palestinians deal with them with contempt as a result of they largely are very
previous males who don’t communicate for Palestinian individuals, and that’s an issue. And, of
course, that scenario is what makes Israel and America very glad. They’re
very content material with that scenario as a result of the Palestinian Authority at this time is
primarily the policemen for the occupation. They’re armed and educated by
Israel and worldwide forces to primarily go across the West Financial institution,
suppressing the opposition to their rule and preserve calm. However retaining calm means
retaining Israel glad, and loads of Palestinians are very upset and offended about
that [and] rightly so. So, to me, till the Palestinian Authority is both
abolished or radically reformed, which I’m not satisfied is definitely potential,
and we’ve got free and truthful elections, they’re additionally a part of the issue.

Ziabari: Benjamin Netanyahu lately mentioned
that Trump is the “the perfect pal that Israel has ever had within the White
Home.” The Trump administration has strived to advertise itself as probably the most
pro-Israel within the nation’s trendy historical past. Why is Trump so persistent in
interesting to the Israelis? Does he acquire domestically?

Loewenstein: I feel he thinks that it does. I feel there are a couple of causes: One,
the Republican Social gathering may be very pro-Israel. He’s acquired a really sturdy evangelical
Christian base who’re additionally very fanatically pro-Israel. The vast majority of Jews
in America have all the time voted Democrat, so that they wouldn’t vote for Trump anyway.
There are clearly some Jews who do vote for Republicans or Trump, however they
are only a few. So, he sees that his base is kind of pro-Israel. He doesn’t see any
draw back as a result of the Palestinians as a individuals and as a foyer group are very
weak versus the pro-Israel foyer in America, which may be very sturdy and
highly effective.

So, he does see it as useful for him and, clearly, we are going to see this yr within the US whether or not it helps him win reelection. I imply the Israel concern by itself is not going to win reelection, however we have to see whether or not this concern turns into a critical one in the course of the marketing campaign as soon as we all know who Donald Trump is dealing with, whether or not it’s Bernie Sanders or any person else. So sure, I feel Trump sees it as useful to his agenda and outlook.

Additionally, frankly, Trump and many individuals round
him hate Muslims, hate Arabs, hate Palestinians. It very a lot matches into their
worldview. There’s contempt, open contempt to people who find themselves not white, who
are completely different to them, who’re brown, who’ve completely different pores and skin, who’ve a
completely different faith and who’ve a special background, and the Palestinians
are merely a part of that, sadly.

Ziabari: Israeli settlements within the
occupied West Financial institution are thought-about unlawful, in line with the UN Safety Council’s
Decision 2334. Nonetheless, the US lately shifted its place on the
settlements, now not contemplating them a violation of worldwide legislation. What
would be the results of the brand new US strategy? Will it encourage Israel to
assemble extra housing models within the West Financial institution whereas the UN Safety Council
nonetheless sticks to its stance?

Loewenstein: Properly, one of many key issues with this battle is that worldwide legislation and the United Nations are toothless and sometimes powerless. They’re selecting to not train their energy as a result of, in the end, the settlements have been unlawful for the reason that starting in 1967; nearly your complete world agrees with that apart from Israel and the US. The USA did change its place lately, however to be trustworthy, it had that place unofficially for many years.

Israel has been constructing settlements for
52-53 years, and there are actually 750,000 Jewish settlers all dwelling illegally in
the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem. Nobody critically thinks they’re going to be
eliminated; they’re there completely, the occupation is now everlasting. That’s the
actuality which Israel has created.

So, one of many actually disappointing elements
of this entire concern is that the Worldwide Felony Court docket, which has been
actually weak on many international conflicts for a few years together with this one, simply
lately introduced that, presumably, they’re going to maneuver ahead with an
investigation into a number of the points across the Israeli-Palestinian battle.
However even when they do, and it’s not clear that they’ll, the ICC has proven on
this concern, amongst different points, that they’re very toothless and powerless and
the United Nations is precisely the identical. So, in the end, the decision of this
concern is not going to come by way of the UN. With the Safety Council, there are
clearly numerous international locations which have veto energy. Then there may be simply probably not
any viable strategy to see the scenario altering that approach until the worldwide make-up

And with the worldwide legislation, there have
clearly been plenty of makes an attempt through the years to deliver justice to the
Palestinians, by making an attempt to prosecute Israeli prime ministers or protection
minsters or military generals. Just about none of them ever succeeded in lots of
international locations, together with in Europe, which can be extra open to such issues. I feel
that can change finally, however I feel we’re a good distance away from that also,

Ziabari: By saying that worldwide
organizations such because the United Nations and the Safety Council are powerless
and unable to provide you with a panacea for the Israeli-Palestinian battle, are
you implying that the settlement of the disaster is merely contingent upon the
will and dedication of any US authorities, or is it a matter of getting a
dependable dealer within the White Home?

Loewenstein: Properly, in the end, the US has by no means been that dependable dealer as a result of they’ve all the time been what I’d name “Israel’s lawyer.” They’ve all the time been on Israel’s aspect. This has been just about the case within the final 50 years. So, there’s by no means actually been an American authorities, Democrat or Republican, that has seen Palestinians as having equal rights to Israeli Jews.

The one potential change to that view is that if
somebody like Bernie Sanders wins the presidency. He has talked about seeing
Palestinians as human beings, speaking a few peace deal and making an attempt to
negotiate, which can or could not occur, as a result of there’ll be an enormous quantity of
stress on him to both again down or to not make it the main focus of his
presidency. He might be so busy making an attempt to undo years of harm performed by Trump if
he wins this yr.

So, somebody like him is a risk however, in the end, I feel the US has positioned itself on the middle of world negotiations. What the United Nations ought to have performed, and the European Union notably ought to have performed years in the past however didn’t, was to make themselves a viable different energy supply to the US. And the European Union has failed in doing that, and now as Europe more and more turns into politically fractured, there isn’t a consensus; there are rising numbers of Jap European states notably which might be very pro-Israel, together with Hungary and Poland. There are some Western European nations which might be extra important of Israel, like Belgium, France and others, however they’re fairly weak and the EU works on consensus, however there’s merely no consensus there.

So, other than the US and the EU, the place is
this different international dealer going to return from? It’s not going to be the
Arab states. I don’t know the place that comes from proper now. That’s the issue.
And till there’s a viable different, this example will proceed to be
managed badly by the extra highly effective forces that are Israel and the US.

Ziabari: A 2019 survey by the Van Leer Institute discovered that 71% of Jews in Israel believes there’s a ethical drawback with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel seems to be extremely divided on the difficulty of occupation. Is there any likelihood these fissures may result in a change of coverage on the a part of the Israeli authorities?

Loewenstein: I want there was. However the reality is that most individuals I communicate to right here
who’re on the lookout for change — I’m speaking about on the Israeli Jewish aspect —
have accepted a few years in the past that that change is not going to occur. In different phrases,
it is not going to occur throughout the nation. There are positively individuals inside
Israeli Jewish society who’re very against what’s happening, and they’re
very outspoken and they’re very courageous, however there are only a few of them. And
despite the fact that many Israeli Jews, after they’re requested in research, will say the
occupation just isn’t their perfect consequence, they frequently vote for politicians
which might be making the settlements everlasting.

It’s fascinating that it’s positively a
minority of Israeli Jews who’re very pro-settler. That’s true, however that exhibits
in a roundabout way the strategic brilliance of the settler motion {that a} minority
inhabitants in Israel have spent 50+ years having the ability to be the important thing drivers of
Israeli authorities coverage the place the vast majority of Israelis are both paralyzed,
blind or deaf, together with willfully blind to what’s happening.

And it’s superb how one can have an
occupation down the street from your own home in the event you stay inside Tel Aviv or West
Jerusalem the place loads of Israeli Jews stay. And they’re by no means going to the West
Financial institution; they by no means meet Palestinians; they usually categorical extremely racist views.

Clearly, I’m generalizing. There are numerous
Israeli Jews who don’t suppose like this, however loads of public opinion polls of
Israeli Jews discover racism very sturdy in opposition to Palestinians. They wouldn’t share
an residence block with a Palestinian; they wouldn’t wish to ship their youngster
to the identical college or kindergarten as a Palestinian Muslim or Christian youngster.
There’s very deep racism right here. And there’s racism on the Palestinian aspect, too,
however most research have proven that Israeli Jews are rather more racist to Arabs
than the opposite approach round, regardless of a long time and a long time of battle with the
Palestinians who’re the occupied individuals, not the opposite approach round.

So, I feel with out outdoors worldwide stress, both from authorities or different locations, it’s very laborious to see the Israeli Jewish inhabitants rising up as a result of, in the end, individuals don’t hand over energy by selection. They don’t hand over their privileges by selection. We noticed that in South Africa throughout apartheid. White South Africans didn’t in the future get up and say: Gee! I actually wish to give blacks equal rights.

No. They realized it over years of
worldwide stress and, clearly, a really sturdy black motion led by the
ANC [African National Congress] and Nelson Mandela who confirmed them that South
African whites had a selection: you both settle for blacks as equals otherwise you change into
an more and more international pariah and outcast society. And in the mean time, Israel is
a good distance away from that, however that’s the longer term probably until there’s
rising worldwide stress in opposition to Israel to vary its insurance policies.

The views expressed on this article are
the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial

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