President Trump’s “apartheid” deal is an Israeli plan that entrenches Israel’s prolonged colonial occupation of the land and people of Palestine.
On 28 January 2020, the U.S. released its permanent “apartheid” plan for Palestine, which was mainly authored by Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman – all three are ardent supporters of Israel’s illegal colonial-settlement enterprise. Over the past two years that preceded the announcement of this plan, the Trump administration has recognized Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, shut down both the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem (established in 1844) as well the PLO Mission in Washington, defunded the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), suspended the U.S. aid to the Palestinian people and shifted U.S. policy regarding Israeli settlements, deeming them not per se inconsistent with international law. In a nutshell, Israel, with the support the U.S. administration, has been steadily implementing this annexationist plan well before its release. Indeed, the plan was co-authored by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who on 31 January 2020 posted a video on twitter stating that over the course of three years, he worked with the Trump team on this plan, which he says grants Israel “things we have dreamed about for decades and now it has become a reality.”
Placing the past, present, and future of 13 million Palestinians worldwide on the line, the plan strives to liquidate the just cause of the people of Palestine. The following Q&A provides an overview of the “Con of the Century.” It responds to the plan’s immoral, illegal and dangerous implications on the national and human rights of the people of Palestine that threaten their very right to exist in their own state alongside the State of Israel in peace and security on the 1967 borders.
1. Does the plan, presented by U.S. President Trump, support an independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, or a Greater Israel between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean?
The plan outrageously dismisses the right of Palestine to exist as an independent, sovereign, and contiguous State. By sponsoring the legalization of Israeli illegal settlements and dictating that none will be dismantled, the plan simply represents the annexation of territory, rendering a free Palestine impossible. Under this plan, Israel would retain its overriding security control over vast areas of occupied Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. It suggests a fictional State of Palestine, whereby it substitutes territorial contiguity with “transportation contiguity” thus undermining the very viability of Palestinian statehood. This fictional state will be divided into a series of enclaves, scattered around like an archipelago to be connected by tunnels and bridges, allowing Israel to maintain security control over Palestinian terrestrial and maritime borders, airspace, and natural resources. As such, the plan cancels all possibilities for the State of Palestine to exercise any meaningful sovereignty and the very security of the state. On the other hand, the plan outlines total support for a Greater Israel between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean.
While fully serving the interests of the State of Israel alone, the plan constitutes a continuation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and Israel’s Jewish-Nation State law of 2018. It aims to formalize the Greater Israel colonial project over the land of historic Palestine, which denies the national rights of the Palestinian people and only allows them to live in self-governing Bantustans with barely a handful of civil and religious rights. It relieves Israel of the burden of paying the cost of its occupation and assuming its responsibilities as an occupying power.
2. Does the plan constitute a “peace” plan or an “apartheid” plan?
By legalizing the annexation of occupied Palestinian territory to the Israeli state, and limiting Palestinians to dis-contiguous enclaves on their own land, the plan consolidates an already existing system where two sets of laws apply in the occupied Palestinian territory: one for Israeli settlers and another one for the occupied Palestinian people. While Israeli law is applicable to illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, Palestinians are subject to Israeli military laws and courts. Not only does the plan propose a Palestinian state with no sovereignty, but it spells out a one-state reality with two systems, whereby Palestinians continue to be denied the political, economic, cultural and social rights that are enjoyed by Israeli Jews. Indeed, with the number of Palestinians, in the State of Palestine and Palestinian citizens of Israel already surpassing the number of Israeli Jews in the land between the river Jordan and Mediterranean, Israel is one step away of becoming a full-fledged apartheid state. In all, this plan demands that the Palestinian leadership and people submit to total subjugation in Israel’s apartheid state.
3. Is the plan in line with the two-state solution on the 1967 border?
At the outset of this plan, its authors introduce the conflict as one between “the State of Israel and the Palestinians,” effectively destroying the two-state solution and deceptively erases the 1967 border, known as the Green Line. The defined borders of the internationally recognized State of Palestine by 139 nations worldwide in accordance with UN resolution 67/19 of 2012 are located within the 1967 borders, comprising the West Bank, including the capital East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Israel has not yet defined its borders. Not only does the map endorsed by President Trump eliminate the 1967 border, but it also recognizes Israel’s illegal facts on the ground and its de-facto ‘one state with two systems’. Unmistakably, the plan supports the realization of a Greater Israel that erodes the concept of the internationally endorsed two-state solution and replaces it with apartheid.
4. Does the plan respect international law and United Nations resolutions?
The plan brazenly violates international law and consensus, and all United Nations Resolutions concerning the question of Palestine. This includes resolutions endorsing the two-state solution, others considering Israeli settlements as illegal, resolutions recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the State Palestine, and deeming any alterations to Jerusalem by Israel as null and void, and resolutions recognizing the rights of Palestine refugees to return and compensation. The plan normalizes (i) the colonization of Palestine, in violation of international law and UN resolutions (ii) annexation of occupied Palestinian territory, manifestly illegal under international law and deemed a crime of aggression under Rome Statute and (iii) apartheid, recognized as a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.
Both the US and Israel are thus defying and threatening international law and order to replace them with a racist, hegemonic and exploitative new world order. As stated by Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967: “This plan would turn the rules-based international order on its head and would permanently entrench the tragic subjugation of the Palestinians that is already existing on the ground,”. He added that: “The abandonment of these legal principles threatens to unravel the long-standing international consensus on the conflict, favouring realpolitik over rights, power over justice and conflict management over conflict resolution.”
5. Which party is rejecting the internationally-endorsed references to achieve peace?
Based on international law and relevant UN resolutions, the Palestinian Peace Initiative of 1988 marked a historic and painful compromise by accepting Israel’s right to exist on 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine, with the State of Palestine on the remaining 22 percent, comprised of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Unlike Israel, which continues to create illegal facts on the ground and to violate both international law and signed agreements, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) continues to honor all its international obligations, including under signed agreements with Israel, and to seize every opportunity to achieve peace and the right of the people of Palestine to self-determination. During the past thirty-two years, the PLO has been genuinely engaged in the peace process that started with the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991 and concluded with the last round of negotiations led by the former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014, which failed as a result of Israel’s continued use of negotiations as a smokescreen to violate Palestinian rights and international law.
On the other hand, since the signing of the Oslo Interim Agreement in 1993, Israel has been heavily engaged in a colonial process of settlement building on Palestinian territory, while continuing to violate nearly all Palestinian rights, at the expense of the peace process. Israel has been systematically destroying the very foundations of the peace process as it continues to appropriate Palestinian land and transfer of its own civilian population into the occupied Palestinian territory, in clear violation of international law.
According to the Israeli NGO Peace Now, until 1994, there was over 280,000 Jewish Israeli settlers living in occupied Palestine. In contrast, the current available statistics show that this number has almost tripled to more than 640,000 settlers living in over 200 settlements, including 42 in and around occupied Jerusalem. In fact, during the past decade alone, according to a recently published report by an Israeli settler organization, the number of Israeli settlers increased by 48 percent. In 2019 alone, there was an increase of 3.4%, which is more than double the rate of population growth in Israel proper that reached 1.9% at the beginning of 2020.
6. How does the plan prejudge core issues reserved for permanent status negotiations?
Through a series of unilateral decisions, and since its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017, the Trump administration has methodically been undermining the permanent status negotiations mainly concerning the core issues: borders, Jerusalem, and the question of Palestine refugees. A careful reading of the Trump plan shows how all its details embody the racist vision of the most ideologically extreme Israeli settlers, who have been gradually empowered since the assassination of the former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and in fact have been leading the State of Israel for over a decade now.
Overall, the plan denies Palestinians’ sovereign statehood, recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, violates the historic status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, by imposing time and location divisions inside the compound for different faiths, legalizes the annexation of all Israeli settlements, and categorically dismisses the rights of Palestine refugees. By allowing Israel to expand and perpetuate its colonial-settlement enterprise, the plan negates the Palestinian right to self-determination and proposes an alternative to the international terms of reference for negotiations between Israel and Palestine, all in violation of international law, UN resolutions, international consensus, and previously signed agreements. Engaging with this plan means a legitimization of Israel’s acquisition of territory by force and a perpetuation of its superiority and domination over the land and lives of the people of Palestine. In other words, it legitimizes “might over right.”
7. Can the economic part of the plan be a substitute or an alternative to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace?
The State of Palestine has the right to exercise its sovereignty with independent financial and monetary plans, control over its imports and export policies, as well as with access to its borders and natural resources, including water, minerals, natural gas, and oil resources. It is only through a just and lasting peace that Palestine can ensure the independence, prosperity, and sustainability of its economy, beginning with an end to Israel’s occupation and the fulfillment of Palestinian statehood and inalienable rights. According to various economic studies, Palestine has great economic potential and the number one obstacle to achieving that potential is the Israeli occupation. For example, in 2013, a World Bank report estimated that if Israeli restrictions on Area C of the West Bank were lifted it “could bring about significant expansion of many sectors of the Palestinian economy,” which will be able to generate $2.2 billion a year in value added terms. According to the report: “The bulk of this would come from agriculture and Dead Sea minerals exploitation.” The Dead Sea, a strategic area for Palestine, is promised to Israel in the Trump plan.
In all, the economic portion of the plan is a failed attempt to cover up for the prolongation of Israel’s belligerent occupation and the theft of Palestinian land and resources.
8. What is the position of the State of Palestine?
The State of Palestine considers the U.S. apartheid plan as blatant aggression against the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, which were endorsed by the United Nations to enable our nation to exercise its right to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and the right of our refugees to return. The plan undermines international law and the role United Nations, and hence constitutes a direct threat to the people of Palestine and their just cause, and on the entire international rules-based system as we know it. It considers all Israeli settlements as legal, including those in East Jerusalem – Palestine’s internationally recognized capital, which is comprised of the Old City and the surrounding area of 6 km2.
The State of Palestine has endorsed all relevant UN resolutions and international law as the basis of any solution towards the achievement of peace. It considers the Arab Peace Initiative (API) as the foundation formula that can achieve the diplomatic and economic integration of Israel into the region in exchange for ending its occupation of all Arab territories, including the Lebanese Shebaa Farms, Arab Syrian Golan and the occupied State of Palestine, as well as achieving a just and agreed-upon solution to the question of Palestine refugees.
9. What are the positions of the international community and the Arab world?
While a number of countries “welcomed” the U.S announcement, none have endorsed the plan. But the majority of the responses were positive in insisting on the importance of the two-state solution, international law, and relevant UN resolutions as the way forward to achieve peace. This includes the European Union, through a statement issued by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, which affirmed the EU’s position that “does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967”, and considered that “Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.” Also, the Arab League decided “to reject the American – Israeli ‘Deal of the Century’, which does not meet the minimum of the Palestinian people’s aspirations and rights, and violates all of the references of the peace process that are based on international law and the pertinent international resolutions.” Additionally, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reaffirmed “its rejection of any plan, deal, or initiative submitted by any party whatsoever, which is inconsistent with the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in agreed international legitimacy resolutions, or not in conformity with internationally recognized terms of reference of the Middle East peace process, foremost of which is international law, UN resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.”
10. What is the way forward to achieve peace?
Our vision to achieve peace is fundamentally based on the end of Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine. An independent and viable State of Palestine can only be based on complete sovereignty over our territory and our resources; control over our borders, airspace, and maritime boundaries; and, most importantly, self-determination: the ability to freely determine the shape of our political, civil, economic, cultural and social lives. Henceforth, the way forward should be in line with international law, and the system of justice and accountability that the international legal order is designed to preserve. Any plan that flouts international law and United Nations resolutions, and instead legitimizes illegal land theft and annexation is no peace plan at all. This is why, the recent Palestinian Peace Initiative of 2018, as proposed by President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations Security Council, can achieve such an objective.
The Palestinian Peace Initiative calls for the implementation of the principle of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders. While proposing the convening of an international peace conference that is firmly based on international law, the plan specifies that unilateral actions that may undermine final status negotiations should not be taken. The overall vision of this plan is clear: it is based on the respect of international legitimacy and relevant UN resolutions, including with the fulfillment of a just and agreed-upon solution for Palestine refugees based on UN resolution 194 that stipulates their right to return to their homes and to just compensation. The plan calls for “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and an open city for the faithful of the three monotheistic religions.” It as well demands ensuring the security of both Palestine and Israel “without undermining the independence and sovereignty of either of them.” Ultimately, our vision for peace requires justice and an ability to exercise our rights freely in our homeland. We remain confident that with the support of peace-loving nations that seek to preserve the threatened international order, we will succeed in our pursuit of this just and long-lasting peace.