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Why Trump's peace plan may still fail

Jan 23,2018 - Last updated at Jan 23,2018

There have been many speculations over President Donald Trump's plan to reach an ultimate deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and until 

December 6, when the US president announced his infamous decision with regard to Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership was cautiously optimistic over its prospects. But the Jerusalem declaration dashed all hopes and gave the Palestinians, as well as the Arabs, a reality check on where the US administration stands with regard to the classical two-state solution, previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and pertinent UN resolutions on the issues. And if we are to believe the leaked report that Palestinian chief negotiator
Saeb Ereikat submitted to the PCC last week, then we now have a first look at the main parameters of the proposed peace plan to be unveiled by the White House sometime in the coming few weeks or months. These parameters are
as follows:

— Palestine will be a "state minus" whatever that term means.

— Israel will maintain security control over the Palestinian entity. Again,
this is a vague term that could be interpreted to mean an open-ended
occupation.

— Israel will maintain permanent presence along the Jordan River.

— The future of Jerusalem is to be determined by the parties.

— There will be no settlement evacuation.

— The refugee problem will have a just solution.

— There will be land swaps but not based on the 1967 lines.

These are the alleged broad settings that the US peace plan will be based
on. And they can only mean one thing: The White House has "borrowed" these terms and conditions from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's playbook on resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. In effect the proposed plan does away with the Oslo agreement and with all previous US positions and commitments in addition to sidelining UN resolutions and associated international laws on the issue.

With Trump's unilateral decision on Jerusalem in mind and with the latest US move to slash aid to UNRWA still fresh the above parameters appear to be in sync with the perceptions and convictions of the US administration. As much as the proposed plan gives zero attention to Palestinian rights, which happen to be in line with international law, UN resolutions and the position of the vast majority of countries, it would be foolish to assume that the US can simply force such a humiliating settlement on the Palestinians.

But what is likely to happen is this: The US will present its plan — barring a sudden change in calculations in the White House — and the Palestinians will reject it immediately. Israel will embrace it, with the usual reservations, and will kick-start a series of unilateral moves to implement major portions of the plan. They will include annexing the settlements, imposing military rule over East Jerusalem; in order to justify steps to hasten the forced transfer of its Arab residents and embark on plans to evict Palestinians from villages along the Jordan Valley.

Illegal as all these steps are, Netanyahu and his far-right coalition partners will go even further by passing laws that annex major chunks of the West Bank while underlining the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. Meanwhile, the US will try to tempt the Palestinians to accept or reengage in return for substantial aid packages.

But as much as this scenario is depressing and infuriating it does not mean that Israel's unilateral actions and US blind support will be accepted by the Palestinians or the world community for that matter. All the plan does is put the Palestinian cause right on the top with the rest of major world crises. It will deepen US isolation on the world arena and will trigger violent reactions by Palestinians in the occupied territories. It
will likely entice European, Asian, Latin American and African countries to recognise the state of Palestine; albeit a state under occupation.

The Palestinian leadership has been cautioned by close Arab allies and
European friends not to adopt radical stands, including rejection of US mediation and withdrawing recognition of Israel, until the White House unveils its proposed peace plan. These countries still believe that quiet
behind-the-scene diplomatic engagement can influence the US and alter its position. International rejection, including by America's closest allies, of Trump's unilateral move on Jerusalem has rattled the US administration and may force it to review its stand.

More importantly, perhaps, the crisis over Jerusalem has done a lot of damage to US credibility in the region and has dampened support for Trump's mediation efforts among moderate Arab countries. It would be reckless for the US administration not to look back and take world and regional reactions into account. But if the US ignores its allies and pushes ahead, thus ending all realistic prospects for a two-state solution, then the Palestinians can still derail such plans by changing their strategy and embracing the one-state option and upending Israeli schemes.

 

 

Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

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Comments

HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT A PLAN THAT HAS ALREADY FAILED, FAULTERED, DECIDED AND HANDED DOWN " MAY " STILL FAIL?. ARE YOU DAY-DREAMING THAT THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED PEACE PLAN?. TO THINK THAT THERE IS A PEACE PLAN IS JUST A WISHFUL THINKING. WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE TONE AND THE TANGENCIAL APPROACH OF THE ARAB WORLD AND LEADERS?. THE WHOLE MESS CAN BEST BE CALLED A MERRY-GO-ROUND.

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