The Arab-Israeli conflict is complicated. But it also one of the great moral challenges of our time. To resolve it with equity and justice requires creativeness and imagination. It requires expertise and forethought. It requires courage and sacrifice.
The Donald Trump administration exhibits none of these attributes. As a result, its peace plan is as unjust as it is unimaginative, unsophisticated, and spineless. A combination of right-wing Israeli apologists and political neophytes has produced a blueprint for permanent statelessness and second-class status for Palestinians.
Peace Process Before Trump
There is a reason why every American president since 1967 has supported a two-state solution: they recognized that Israel’s future as a thriving Jewish and democratic state depended on maintaining a Jewish majority. Every prior iteration of the peace process, no matter how flawed, envisioned a Jewish Israel alongside an Arab Palestine, which would comprise much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
But, without an agreement, Israel continued to occupy the West Bank and expanded Jewish settlements into the territory. Over the last 53 years, the number of Jewish settlers living in territory earmarked by the international community for a future, sovereign Palestine grew to a point of no return with more than 400,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem.
Without any serious pressure on Israel to halt settlement expansion, Palestinians watched the opportunity for statehood diminish in slow motion.
As a result, over the last two decades, a growing number of Palestinians began agitating for a one-state solution that would confer equal rights to Jews and Arabs in a single binational state. Israel and the U.S. rejected this possibility outright since it would compromise Israel’s Jewish majority.
Trump’s Peace Plan
Two-state and one-state solutions each come with distinct advantages and disadvantages. Trump’s peace plan neatly packages the worst from each in a way that guarantees perpetual Palestinian suffering.
The proposal purports to advocate for a two-state solution, but unlike past proposals, it comes with a handy map that makes visually clear the territorial farce that is proposed.
First, it grants Israel sovereignty over most of its settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley, roughly “area C,” which comprises 30 percent of the occupied West Bank. Doing so breaks up the remaining “Palestine” into a bewildering archipelago of lands and proposes the construction of dozens of bridges and tunnels to reconnect the lands that the plan itself disconnects.
Thus, the physical limitations of the territory designated to future Palestine guarantee that no state can be built at all. This will continue to leave millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza stateless, so as to significantly restrict opportunities for work, education, healthcare, and movement.
This is the official White House plan for Palestine — a swiss-cheese like PA with threadbare links to other zones. There is no way this is accepted by the Palestinians. pic.twitter.com/3Dkw862cY5
— Ryan Bohl (@Ryan_Bohl) January 28, 2020
Second, the plan maintains that nobody will be uprooted from their land. For Jews living in the West Bank, this mostly means that they will now live in freshly annexed territory under Israeli sovereignty.
What it means for Palestinians is less clear. Around 300,000 Palestinians live in the areas that are now subject to imminent annexation. Without citizenship, they would become stateless within a state. Alternatively, they could be offered Israeli citizenship, which would legally relegate them to second-class citizens given that Israel’s 2018 Basic Law establishes that the “the right to exercise national self-determination” is “unique to the Jewish people.”
Trump’s plan implicitly endorses this Basic Law by demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This would be akin to demanding that African Americans officially recognize the United States as a Caucasian state, and accept the legal repercussions of such a designation.
For those Palestinians who will be absorbed into Israel through unilateral annexation, the choice is an impossible one. If anything, Israel’s territorial expansions will only broaden the existing crisis of second-class citizenship that already plagues the 1.5 million Palestinians living within Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries. Except now, it will come with an official American endorsement.
The Trump peace plan thus puts Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza in a state of permanent political marginalization. Israel is already moving to impose the territorial changes, despite vehement Palestinian opposition. Once the map is redrawn, Muslim and Christian Palestinians will be forced to pledge their allegiance to a Jewish state or continue to live under the conditions of perpetual occupation and statelessness.
Prior peace proposals have had their share of flaws, but in terms of its senseless indifference to Palestinians, the Trump peace plan is, indeed, the deal of the century.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.