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There goes the ultimate deal

Feb 20,2018 - Last updated at Feb 20,2018

For US President Donald Trump to say that the Palestinians "are not looking to make peace" is not unusual.

The Palestinians have always been blamed by Israel and its supporters for supposedly missing peace opportunities. Many political leaders find it easier to go along with such claims, simply because blaming the Palestinian victim is almost risk free, while telling the truth — that Israel has never sought peace on any just or reasonable terms — is very costly.

The common pattern, even when an Israeli atrocity makes comment unavoidable, is that any statement be prefaced by strong words affirming support for Israel, recognising its "right to self-defence," and condemning "terrorist" acts against it before being followed by calls on the Palestinians to negotiate peace rather than hold back and resort to violence.

Most world politicians, including senior UN figures, weigh their words very carefully when it comes to Israel, if not to endear themselves to Tel Aviv then simply to avoid condemnation.

This is why Trump's comment that Israel is also not interested in peace, has taken many by surprise.

In a recent interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Trump said he did not believe the Israelis or the Palestinians were ready to make peace.

“Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace. They are not looking to make peace,” the president said. “And I am not necessarily sure Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens.”

However, that was still mild compared to what Trump said when asked about Israel's illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

"The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements," the president said.

This came only days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got into serious trouble with the White House, after he claimed at a meeting of his Likud Party that he had been in talks with the Americans on a "historic" initiative to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The scandal-plagued Netanyahu was apparently bragging to his faction that he was working on significant achievements for his country to detract it from his legal woes at home.

But it backfired badly when the Trump administration issued a strong and firm denial.

"Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false," White House spokesman Josh Raffel said in a statement. "The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president's focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative."

Since the president's comments were sparked by a question on his repeatedly delayed plan for the "ultimate deal", could his comments about the unpreparedness of both sides for peace be a first signal that the plan — now rumoured to be forthcoming this spring — may never see the light?

This is just a question. But judging from successive leaks about the plan's content, the Americans may be realising it is a nonstarter. The Palestinians had already rejected the reported American proposals for being totally tailored to accommodate Israel's maximum demands, leaving them with, at most, a state in name only, on a few fragments of the West Bank.

Trump, himself, has already declared that he has taken Jerusalem "off the table" in any potential negotiations, with his decision to recognise the city as Israel's capital.

Although the Trump peace team has indeed approved all Israel's demands in a possible settlement, it might have expected something symbolic from the Israelis to tempt the Palestinians. But they were denied even that little.

Knowing the history of more than three decades of futile negotiations, always blocked by Israeli intransigence, that should not be unexpected.

On the basis of that, it has been my firm belief right from the beginning, and as argued on this page, that there will be no ultimate deal.

It did not require much thought to expect the Trump administration to lean further towards Israel than its already very pro-Israel predecessors: there were very clear signals in that direction.

The choice of the Trump peace team, following the appointment of an ambassador to Tel Aviv who is committed to the most extremist Zionist colonialist schemes in Palestine, were only part of the preparation.

It is possible that Trump did sincerely believe that previous failures were more related to bad negotiation skills rather than substance. It is also possible that the president was misled by some in the region, who want to sell out the Palestinians in exchange for an alliance with Israel and the US against Iran.

Some seem to think that clearing the Palestinian issue out of the way, even with a very bad deal, would remove any remaining obstacles to such an alliance.

But if all that helped raise false hopes, the moment of truth inevitably follows, and then it is back to square one.

67 users have voted.


Where there is a will there is a way. And there never was a will on the Israeli side. 1

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