Palestine Update 331
Trump’s plan will validate Israeli annexation of Palestinian areas without bringing peace
For any peace process to be successful; the first step is to take all conflicting parties into confidence. By that standard, U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan for Israel and Palestine is a failure from the start as the Palestinians rejected it even before the proposals were unveiled. The Palestinians believe that Mr. Trump, whose administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, is not an impartial negotiator between the two sides. And the plan Mr. Trump unveiled on Tuesday in the White House seems to be confirming Palestinian concerns.
Mr. Trump has thrown his weight behind the two-state solution. But to achieve the solution, the plan overly favors the Israeli positions and demands excessive concessions from the Palestinians. According to the plan, Israel can annex the Jordan Valley as well as the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. It also recognizes Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel, while the Palestinian capital could come up in the eastern outskirts of the city. It proposes to enlarge Gaza and swap the Arab-populated towns in southeast Israel with Palestine for parts of the West Bank. In effect, the Palestinians would lose roughly 30% of the West Bank, their claim to Jerusalem and the right to return of refugees. In return, they will get an independent state in a shrunken West Bank and an enlarged Gaza connected through a tunnel that would practically be encircled by Israel.
It is true that the Palestinians’ negotiation powers are at their weakest point. Their leadership is divided and the support they once enjoyed in Arab nations is also eroding. Representatives of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman were present at the event in Washington in which Mr. Trump unveiled the plan. Egypt also offered its support, while Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed talks between Israel and Palestine. But on what conditions? It’s hard to overlook the injustice in demanding that the Palestinians accept further annexation of the West Bank. Issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the right to return of refugees, an internationally accepted right, and the final borders should be resolved through talks, not by dictating terms to one party. Even to achieve statehood under the proposed conditions, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is required to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad (which is practically impossible as both operate from Gaza and the PA runs only West Bank territories), stop supporting families of those jailed or killed by Israel and stop challenging Israeli actions on international fora. It is virtually impossible for any Palestinian leader to sell these proposals to a people who have been resisting Israel’s occupation for decades. Under the current conditions, it looks more like a plan for further annexation of territories by Israel than one that seeks constructive and lasting peace.
Israeli denial of Palestinian right of return
A report released recently by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) revealed that Israel has welcomed around 3.3 million immigrants since its creation in 1948. Throughout the past seven decades, Israel has been facilitating unfettered Jewish immigration to Israel while on the other hand denying the Palestinian refugees the right of return.
The immigration of the Jewish population to Israel – including their non-Jewish relatives – has been a significant component in the growth and development of the Israeli state. Thus, many define Israel as a state of immigrants. Since its founding in 1948, Israel has absorbed around 3.3 million immigrants, mainly through waves of mass immigration from different geographic areas around the world, creating a diverse population in terms of cultural and socioeconomic status, as well as demographic differences.
In 1950, Jewish immigration to Israel was legalized when the Knesset adopted the Law of Return, which determines the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel and become an Israeli citizen. Moreover, a child or a grandchild of a Jew, a Jew’s spouse and the spouse of the child or grandchild of a Jew, who are not Jewish themselves, are also entitled to this right, according to the amendment to the Law of Return in 1970. Nearly two-thirds of the 3.3 million immigrants who arrived in Israel since 1948 came from Europe and America, over half of them from the former Soviet Union (USSR). Another third originated from parts of Asia and Africa. The immigration to Israel has always been characterized by waves of immigration lasting for a few years, followed by low periods, which lasted about the same time.
During the three years following the founding of the state (1948-1951), the Jewish population doubled with the arrival of 690,000 immigrants. Nearly half of them came from Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, while the rest were primarily European, including many refugees from World War II.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, the number of immigrants from western countries, including Western Europe, North and South America, and Australia increased, as they constituted a third of the 280,000 immigrants who arrived between 1969-1974. The majority of immigrants from this period came from the USSR. This wave was followed by the longest decline of immigration in Israel’s history, which lasted for 15 years from 1975 to 1989, with an average of fewer than 20,000 immigrants per year.
Quakers join call to oppose Trump ‘peace plan’
Quakers in Britain and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (UK and Ireland) have joined much UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations to robustly defend the rights of the Palestinian people. They say a sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis can only be built on the foundations of international law.
Full text of the statement follows:
Last May, a group of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organizations working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people raised the alarm over President Trump’s so-called ‘peace plan’. Since then, we have witnessed only further devastating human impacts of occupation: increasing rates of demolition of Palestinian structures and the displacement of families, obstruction of access to healthcare and education, and the chronic deterioration of the Palestinian economy which is leading to unemployment and destruction of livelihoods.
There is a major risk that the so-called ‘peace plan’, set to be released imminently, will lead to the formal annexation of Palestinian land, perpetual Israeli occupation, and the negation of Palestinians’ collective right to self-determination. Such an outcome will only deepen poverty and polarisation.
Formal annexation would also seriously breach a foundational principle of the post-WWII international legal order, with implications far beyond the Israel-Palestine context.
Palestinians are already losing their land with creeping de-facto annexation of the West Bank, forcing them to become perpetually aid dependent despite abundant natural resources.
A sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis can only be built on the foundations of international law. We are deeply concerned that the basic human rights and civilian protections guaranteed to the Palestinian people are now in even greater danger.
We therefore reiterate our urgent call on the UK government, parliamentarians and civil society organisations to reaffirm their commitment to the principles of international law and justice at this critical time, and uphold their respective legal and moral responsibilities to robustly defend the rights of the Palestinian people.
The UK has repeatedly stated that annexation of part of the West Bank “would be contrary to international law, damaging to peace efforts and could not pass unchallenged.” Now is the time for the UK to outline what form such a challenge would take, and how it will work with other states to support the Palestinian people to attain their fundamental right to self-determination.
There is a possible path to sustainable peace if we listen, learn, and bring more voices to the table. Peace should be rooted in the recognition of the human rights and dignity of all Palestinians and Israelis, as well as a firm foundation in international law.
Slovenian newspaper ‘Delo’ appalled by Middle East “Deal of the Century”
A Delo commentary entitled Erasure of Palestinian History, Present and Future argues on Thursday that the “Deal of the Century” produced by the US and Israel is a “geostrategic and also very personal move rooted in aggressive superiority and absolute dominance” that “in its core it contains all the elements of apartheid”.