This issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal has undergone a number of transformations. We originally planned to dedicate the issue to “Democracy, the Rule of Law and Good Governance,” given that there is a crisis in democracy in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies. However, on January 28, 2020, at a grandiose ceremony at the White House, U.S. President Donald J. Trump unveiled his long-promised “Deal of the Century,” which he called a “Peace to Prosperity” vision, in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a select audience of right-wing American Jews, fundamentalist evangelicals, and Republicans. A “deal” is supposed to be between two parties, yet the other party, the Palestinians, were conspicuously absent from the occasion. How can you have an agreement with only one of the parties to a conflict?
Given that the United States is still the major superpower in the world, despite the fact that it appears to be withdrawing into a more isolationist stance, and that this is the first time that a detailed American proposal has ever been placed on the table, we felt it was necessary to change the focus of the issue to a serious critique of the Trump vision and to explore alternatives for Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community.
Even though the unveiling of the Trump plan did not secure a majority for Netanyahu in the recent elections, which was one of the primary goals of the pre-election publication of the proposal, the COVID-19 crisis has given Netanyahu a new lease on political life and, as we go to press, it appears that it has handed him the key to forming a national unity government that he will initially head.
Although all attention is currently focused on coping with the crisis, it is clear that the repercussions of the Trump plan will return to center stage once normal life resumes and perhaps even earlier because the Israeli right wing, which is a major component of Netanyahu’s new government, sees it as an historic opportunity to proceed with annexation of Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, and try to achieve the dream of a Greater Israel. That is why we continue to believe in the importance of this special issue of the PIJ, which will serve as a major resource for all who seek to confront the American plan and continue the quest for a just and fair resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the sake of both peoples.
One of the greatest dangers is that Netanyahu will try to activate the item in the Trump plan that would enable Israel to annex large areas of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, creating a complete separation between the remaining Palestinian territory and Jordan, in total violation of the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; in violation of international law; and despite the Israeli security establishment’s warnings that the annexation of the Jordan Valley is unnecessary from a security perspective and would endanger Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan.
Within the context of a so-called land swap, the Trump-Netanyahu vision allows for the possible transfer of 300,000 Palestinian Israeli citizens in the Triangle area to the OPT. This would constitute a form of ethnic cleansing and would fulfill a long-time goal of the extreme right wing in Israel for the sake of ensuring Jewish advantage in the demographic balance. Israelis, Palestinians and particularly the responsible international community which believes in the rule of law and the post-World War II order must be vigilant in the face of this possibility and voice their opposition to it.
The Trump Vision has no vision. It’s a shopping list prepared by patrons of the Israeli settlers, including the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and adopted by Trump, who seeks the support of evangelicals and right-wing American Jews for his re-election. This hoax will not pass and has no chance of surviving. Any plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on justice, respect for international legitimacy represented by United Nations resolutions and signed agreements. Such a plan should guarantee ending the Israeli occupation of the OPT, first and foremost, and enabling the Palestinian people to live in peace, dignity and security in their own state alongside the state of Israel on the June 4, 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The solution should be worked out with the participation of the two sides with international law and legitimacy as its terms of reference. Any imposed solution will fail and will only bring more violence and suffering to the region. This is what Trump and his associates fail to understand.
All efforts to secure peace and justice should be dedicated to preventing the implementation of “The Steal of the Century.”