In 1967, Israel began its fifty plus year occupation of the Palestinian territories. That year also marks the beginning of the US/Israeli relationship as Israel quickly became the world’s leading recipient of American military aid. The Israeli government has invaded Lebanon, annexed the Syrian Golan Heights, bombed Tunisia and Iraq and annexed much of the occupied territories all with American diplomatic, financial and military support. Trump’s recently released Peace to Prosperity plan, a 181 page document outlining a two-state solution, continues this pattern of unyielding support.
The plan claims to be based on the 1993 Oslo Accords. It reads, “Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin… envisioned Jerusalem remaining united under Israeli rule, the portions of the West Bank with large Jewish populations and the Jordan Valley being incorporated into Israel, and the remainder of the West Bank, along with Gaza, becoming subject to Palestinian civil autonomy in what he said would be something ‘less than a state.’ Rabin’s vision was the basis upon which the Knesset approved the Oslo Accords, and it was not rejected by the Palestinian leadership at the time.”
While accurate in depicting “Rabin’s vision,” this is not what the Palestinians agreed to at Oslo.
The Oslo Accords called for implementing UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Resolution 242 emphasizes, “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war,” and calls for, “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied.” Resolution 338 calls for, “the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) in all of its parts.” By accepting these resolutions, the Palestinian leadership certainly did not tacitly approve of “Rabin’s vision,” as is suggested.
Binding UN resolutions call for a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders. Peace to Prosperity states openly that it, “is not a recitation of General Assembly, Security Council and other international resolutions… because such resolutions have not and will not resolve the conflict.”
Trump’s plan would allow for 97% of Israeli settlers to remain in place, carving the West Bank into three. Israel would also control all of the space between the West Bank and Jordan as well as all of the air space. Trump has touted that Palestinian territory would more than double. To do this, Palestinian towns within Israel that have been there since 1949 would come under Palestinian jurisdiction. Those Palestinians would, “become citizens of the State of Palestine and [would] have the option to remain in place unless they choose otherwise… They will be subject to Palestinian civilian administration, including zoning and planning, within the interior of such Palestinian enclaves.” In effect, unless they move, they lose their Israeli citizenship.
Prior attempts at solving the conflict have fallen short in part due to a failure to address the refugee question. In the 1948, 1967 and 1973 Arab Israeli Wars, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced off their land by the Israeli military or fled from violence into neighboring countries. They now number more than five million. Trump’s plan breaks from history, addressing the issue of refugees, calling for, “a complete end and release of any and all claims relating to refugee or immigration status. There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.”
The plan rewrites and ignores a history of suffering and oppression endured by the Palestinian people. There is much fearmongering that “Gaza… is under the control of Hamas, a terrorist organization, and, as a result of Hamas’ policies, is approaching a humanitarian crisis.” This statement arguably amounts to genocide denial.
In 2005, Israel “withdrew” from Gaza, removing settlements while still controlling the borders, sea, and air. As former President Jimmy Carter wrote in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid about Israel’s Gaza policy following Israeli disengagement, “Fisherman are not permitted to leave the harbor, workers are prevented from going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods is severely restricted and often cut off completely, and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers are deprived of salaries.” In 2006, the Palestinians held elections deemed free and fair by the Carter Foundation. Hamas, the more radical Palestinian political party, won the majority of parliamentary seats in Gaza. Israel and the US responded with severe sanctions and covert support for a coup attempt, foiled by Hamas. Israel then implemented a suffocating blockade of Gaza that continues to today.
According to a senior Israeli official, “the idea,” of the blockade was, “to put the Palestinians on a diet.” It has restricted the movement of humans and goods. Fishermen are shot at and often killed if they float too far from shore. Over 90% of Gaza’s drinking water is unfit for human consumption. More than one million Palestinians are dependent on international humanitarian aid as a result.
Every few years, the Israeli military undertakes deadly operations. Gazans are unable to rebuild destroyed infrastructure due to the blockade. Between 2008 and 2014, Israel launched three operations without pretense. During this period, 2,300 Palestinian civilians including 800 children were killed. Desperately vital water sources, sanitation networks, medical facilities, schools and agricultural sites were destroyed and haven’t been able to be rebuilt. Hard to see how Hamas could be blamed for these conditions. If movement is restricted, diet is harshly regulated, and bombs fall frequently, how could this not be considered a genocide?
Life under occupation is grim. In the West Bank, it is estimated that more than 500 children are imprisoned without representation or contact with their families. Since 2000, more than 8,000 children have been arrested. Midnight raids terrorize communities and checkpoints disrupt the flow of movement. Facing a vote in March, this deal, sure to go nowhere, appears as a win for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There seems to be no other explanation for its publishing. While these political games are played, the Palestinians continue to face violent, brutal and, arguably, genocidal conditions.