By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today
In a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump exposed the long-delayed Middle East peace plan at the White House on January 27, this year. The plan would give Israel most of what it has sought over decades of conflict while offering the Palestinians the possibility of a state with limited sovereignty and would bury the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a full-fledged state. Supporting Israeli illegitimate interests, President Trump also cajoled Pedestrians to fulfill formality.
Indicating the proposals of the plan, President Trump said, “My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security,” In fact, he demonstrated the one-sided state of affairs: He was flanked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who played no substantive role in shaping the plan was not consulted or invited by Mr. Trump to join talks.
President Trump stated that it was the first time that Israel had authorized the release of such a conceptual map, illustrating territorial compromises it would make. He said it would “more than double Palestinian territory” while ensuring that “no Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.”
As part of the proposals, Israel agreed to limit its settlement construction in a four-year “land freeze,” during which Palestinian leaders can reconsider whether to engage in talks.
Israeli Prime Minister said: “Mr. President Donald, your deal of the century is the opportunity of the century…Israel will not miss this opportunity…Israel is blessed to have your friendship and your powerful leadership…the greatest power on earth, the United States of America”.
Mr. Netanyahu agreed that Mr. Trump had devised a “realistic path to a durable peace” that “strikes the right balance where others have failed.” But, his move to annex West Bank territory could make any practical dealings with the Palestinians even more difficult. Before returning to Tel Aviv, Mr. Netanyahu told reporters that he would ask his cabinet to vote on a unilateral annexation of the strategically important Jordan River Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a move that is sure to further inflame the Palestinians.
While, under the plan, Palestinians would find themselves virtually encircled by an expanded Israel and living within convoluted borders.
Regarding the US peace plan, The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 1, 2020: It is no accident that the “Deal of the Century” allows for the unilateral annexation of West Bank settlements in the early stages of the process…With that one step, US President Donald Trump last week changed the contours of the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least in the American and Israeli arenas. But those dreams slowly became a reality. Trump has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, relocated the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognized that city as Israel’s capital…
According to his plan, all of Jerusalem, save for what is outside the barrier, will be under Israeli sovereignty. It is as close to US recognition of a united Jerusalem as Israel has ever received. In 2018, the Trump administration erased from its lexicon the concept widely held by the international community that settlement construction is a stumbling block to peace. In 2019, it followed that with a declaration that settlements were not inconsistent with international law. At the White House, Trump went further than any other US president has ever gone and stated that “the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel”–effectively, all of the West Bank settlements”.
Almost, three years in the making, Mr. Trump’s plan is the latest of numerous American efforts to settle the seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But, it was a sharp turn in the American approach, dropping decades of support for only modest adjustments to Israeli borders drawn in 1967 and discarding the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a wholly autonomous state.
Mr. Trump, who loves to claim that he has outdone his predecessors, noted that several past presidents had “tried and bitterly failed” to achieve peace.
“The plan does far more for Israel than it does for the Palestinians, whose proposed state would not have a standing military and would be required to meet other benchmarks overseen by the Israelis, including a renunciation of violence and the disbandment of militant groups like Hamas…the larger goal of Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu was to shift the starting point of any future negotiations sharply in Israel’s favor and to put the Palestinians in the defensive position of saying no.”
Mr. Trump said: “After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have…though a Democratic successor could prove much friendlier to the Palestinian cause”.
The proposal imagines new Israeli borders that cut deep into the West Bank and what Mr. Netanyahu has previously described as a Palestinian “state-minus” that lacks a military capable of threatening Israel. The White House called it “a demilitarized Palestinian state” with Tel Aviv retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River.
Knowing the intentions of the pro-Israeli President Trump, Palestinians had already rejected the Middle East peace proposals. Terming it as the “slap of the century”, President Mahmoud Abbas immediately denounced the plan as a “conspiracy deal” unworthy of serious consideration, making the decades-long pursuit of a so-called two-state solution appears more distant than ever…We say a thousand times over: no, no, no”.
President Mahmoud Abbas announced on February 1, this year that he has decided to sever all relations with Israel and the US in protest against President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace.
As regards the reaction of key Arab governments and other Islamic countries to the plan, they were divided, as noted in foreign ministries’ statements of these countries. Jordan affirmed his country’s support for an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and warned against “the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as the annexation of Palestinian lands.” According to Iran, “the shameful peace plan imposed by America on the Palestinians is the treason of the century and doomed to fail”.
“The United States…so-called peace plan is stillborn…This is an annexation plan aimed at killing a two-state solution and extorting the Palestinian territory”. The Arab League has completely rejected US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan during an emergency meeting in Egypt’s capital saying: “The US-Israeli ‘deal of the century’ does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people”.
In a statement on January 29, 2020, Pakistan’s Foreign Office rejected the US peace plan, favoring a “two-state solution…a just and lasting solution of the Palestinian issue, through dialogue that leads to the realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right of self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions…Trump stressed that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided, very important, undivided capital…we support, the pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.”
But, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, called the plan “a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years.” Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a muted statement, saying that it “appreciates the efforts of President Trump’s administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan.”
Besides, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that the United Nations remains committed to realizing the vision of two states “living side by side in peace and security.” A spokesperson reaffirmed the UN position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and called for a solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
While major Western countries appreciated the US peace plan is ambiguous words. High Representative Josep Borrell said: “The EU will “study and assess the proposals”, adding that “this will be done on the basis of the established EU position. This position respects all relevant UN resolutions and takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.” However, most European capitals have expressed support for the negotiated solution. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stated: “Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent…We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations.”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said: “We must enter direct negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable compromise. We do not know if the American proposal is mutually acceptable or not. We must wait for the reaction of the parties”.
Meanwhile, shortly after the announcement of the US plan, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in Ramallah and Gaza Strip to denounce the plan, raising banners and burning photos of Trump and Netanyahu.
However, the so-called “Deal of the Century” concocted by the administration of US President Donald Trump is more likely to reignite a fire on the Palestinian street than lead to a peace agreement between the two sides, having dire consequences in the Middle East.
Due to the US-Israeli proposed deal, Palestinians of the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank will join the Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip. Despite a growing number of Palestinians who are apathetic to the talking heads in Washington, Jerusalem or Ramallah, the fragile calm could be shattered in an instant creating more militants in the region.
In diplomatic terms, the settlement of the Palestrina-Israeli issue is dead. Once the Palestinians and the Arab states take a clear position, then the Europeans will follow suit, and the Russians would come on board, they will make joint efforts to bring the Tel Aviv and Palestinians to the negotiable table for a durable peace.
It is mentionable that tensions between the US and Iran dramatically sharpened after the US drone strike at Baghdad’s airport on January 3, this year, which killed military commander, General. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, along with five members of the militia, including its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. On the other side, US President Trump threatened to “hit 52 Iranian sites very hard if Iran attacks Americans or U.S. assets” and warned that “the US would hit Iran harder than ever before if Tehran retaliates for the assassination of Soleimani.”
Iranian Gen. Gholamali Abuhamzeh, the commander of the Guards had raised the prospect of possible attacks on ships in the Gulf, by saying: “The Strait of Hormuz is a vital point for the West and a large number of American destroyers and warships cross there…vital American targets in the region have been identified by Iran since long time ago…some 35 U.S. targets in the region, as well as Tel Aviv, are within our reach.”
In retaliation, Tehran launched ballistic missiles on January 8, 2020, targeting the US two Iraqi military bases” at Ain Assad and Irbil. In this regard, Trump’s high officials tried to conceal the information about American casualties and collateral damage, which have been telecast by many TV channels such as Al Jazeera and DW.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has repeatedly insisted upon Washington to invade Iran, remarked that the US had the “right” to defend itself and praised President Trump for acting forcefully by killing Gen. Suleimani.
As regards President Trump’s Israeli connections, after becoming the US President, he started acting upon the hidden agenda of Israel and the Zionist Jews. His decisions such as the tough screening process for the Muslims and executive order regarding a ban on arrivals to the US from a number of mainly-Muslim countries might be cited as instance.
President Trump’s connections with Israel and the Zionist Jews further proved when Trump Administration announced the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. President Trump implemented his decision of December 6, 2018, by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and reversed nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and set in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City. And, it was owing to the encouragement of President Trump that the Israeli regime officially declared their status as “the Jewish State” where only Jewish people have rights to self-determination.
President Trump forgot that angry elements within the Muslim countries, particularly in the pro-Arab states may react against America and its interests in the form of terrorism and other violent actions.
It is worth mentioning that in the aftermath of the orchestrated drama of 9/11, both the presidents, Obama and Bush deliberately created chaos in the Muslim World through fake global war on terror, which still continues. In this connection, occupation of Afghanistan (Prolonged war) and Iraq, proxy wars in the Middle East, regime change in Libya and Egypt through unrest, support to Al-Qaeda (Al-Nusra Front) and ISIS by CIA-Mossad in Syria and Iraq, promotion of sectarian violence in the Islamic World on the basis of Shia and Sunni have given a greater blow to the world’s economic stability which is essential for America and its Western partners. If the double game of President Bush franchised Al-Qaeda on a global level, President Obama’s dual policy franchised both Al-Qaeda and ISIS as part of the anti-Muslim campaign and left no stone unturned in advancing the agenda of the Zionists, Israeli lobbies and the neoconservatives in the pretext of a phony global war on terror.
To what extent President Trump wants to obtain Israeli illegitimate goals at the cost of Muslims and the patriot Americans could be judged from the terrorism-related assaults which occurred in the Spanish city of Barcelona on August 17, 2017, and in her town of Cambrils on August 18, 2017. After condemning the terror attacks and offering US assistance to Spain, the US President Trump suggested “fighting terrorism by executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pigs blood.”
Notably, during the drastic aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy in wake of the US-led fake global war on terror, Western politicians have introduced dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by equating the “war on terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda and ISIS with all the Muslims. Their media have also been contributing to heighten the currents of global politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam. Owing to these reasons, far right-wing parties and “Stop Islam” movement in the West, particularly in Europe has been becoming popular by largely attracting their people. Right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.
It is surprising that after the defeat of the US-led entities in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, President Trump had announced to withdraw American forces from the region. Besides, Trump who was backing Saudi-led airstrike on Yemen, also secretly permitted Riyadh to negotiate a peace deal with the Houthi rebel groups, after the failure of the US-assisted proxy war. Trump had also decided to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan. But, he suddenly changed his decisions.
At present, he is also facing impeachment and is contesting for the 2020 elections in wake multiple internal problems, which American taxpayers are facing owing to President Trump’s foreign adventures. Unquestionably, the US president’s Middle East peace plan has created new risks for Washington, as the decision offered extremist groups a valuable opportunity to capitalize on anti-US sentiment and direct such anger towards those Arab countries which are close to America and non-confrontational towards Israel. While the world is already witnessing various kinds of terrorism-related assaults, acceleration of terror-attacks by the militant groups like ISIS would further destabilize the Middle East in particular and the world in general by giving a greater setback to the political and economic interests of the US and its allies.
While, America’s faulty policy has weakened her position, as she has not only entangled in a prolonged war in Afghanistan but also enveloped other NATO countries there. Particularly, US-led endless war in Afghanistan and the phony global war on terror have rapidly increased the cost of these useless conflicts which have brought about multifaceted crises inside the United States, including other NATO countries or Europe.
Al Jazeera takes a closer look at the architects behind the US attempt at Middle East peace by pointing out: “Jared Kushner is a White House senior adviser and has been primarily tasked with heading the US efforts for a Middle East peace plan…His role in the White House has been criticized not only for nepotism but also for cashing in on business opportunities…According to investigative journalist Vicky Ward…
The Kushner family regards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a family friend, who during trips to the United States would visit their home. Sometimes if Netanyahu spent the night he would sleep in Jared’s bedroom…
Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Trump’s Middle East envoy, arrives to visit Kibbutz Nahal Oz, just outside the Gaza Strip…A lawyer by trade, Greenblatt worked for Trump for nearly two decades as an executive vice president and legal counsel at the Trump Organization. He was appointed by the president as the US envoy for international negotiations and Trump’s special adviser on Israel. In 2016, Trump told reporters that Greenblatt is “a person who truly loves Israel”. Greenblatt has previously shown an aversion to the two-state solution….
Appointed as US ambassador to Israel in 2017, David Friedman was formerly a bankruptcy lawyer affiliated with the Trump Organization. He was also Trump’s campaigner adviser. His strong support for Israel and its settlement enterprise is showcased in heading the American Friends of Bet Il Institutions, where he also donated money to the settlement for many years. The organization, which actively supports the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, is committed to opposing the two-state solution”.
In these terms, besides Muslims, the US new Middle East peace plan is also a conspiracy against Americans, in which top officials/diplomats of the Trump Administration participated.
Although the danger of a full-fledged war has been reduced between Washington and Iran, yet tensions still remain. Pursuing Israeli interests in the region, in case, the US President Trump attacks Iran and a war breaks out between the two countries, Tehran could target US military bases in the pro-US countries and could destroy entire Israel through missiles. Then, America or Israel was likely to use atomic weapons.
Let us suppose, Iran is completely destroyed. There could be millions of Muslims—violent protesters, marching against the US and pro-American regimes in the Islamic countries—burning American and European multinational companies, etc., while even armies could refuse to use force or bullets against the general masses in most of these countries. In the US and other Western countries, Muslims—violent protests—besides hundreds of suicide assaults in the world, in that scenario, political instability, and especially dire economic implications will damage the interests of the US-led most developed countries which produce “surplus”, and Islamic World is their largest market.
It is noteworthy that the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2, 1917, by Britain to establish a national home for the Jewish people. In collaboration with America, It turned the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine into a reality. So, if Balfour Declaration was the blunder of the 20th century, President Donald Trump’s, new Middle East peace plan is a sinister deal of 21st century, planned in connivance with the Tel Aviv at the cost of the Muslims and Americans.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
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