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21 June 2018

The ultimate failure

By: Daoud Kuttab
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A high-level US delegation, headed by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the White House special envoy to the Middle East, is visiting the region. The aim of the visit, according to press reports, is to put the final touches to the so-called “ultimate deal” before unveiling it.
The Palestinian-Israeli portion of this “ultimate deal” is certain to become the ultimate failure.
While many have called on the international community to come up with creative solutions to this decade-old conflict, the successful nature of any peace plan needs to be reasonably crafted to ensure its success. To succeed, a deal needs to be just and fair and be based on widely accepted reference points.
The signals coming from Washington and the large quantity of public statements, mostly Tweets, of the leading architects of this deal, along with real action carried out by the Trump administration, all signal a hugely biased, one-sided deal that contravenes international law and pays little attention to what is fair and just.
A look at the content of Greenblatt’s Twitter account shows a very sympathetic US official to Israel and Israelis, a US official who has not made a single statement of sympathy with Palestinians, except where it served Israel and its interests. While Greenblatt has expressed sorrow and sympathy towards Israelis killed or injured, he has not made a single Tweet about Palestinian deaths, injuries or destruction of property by Israeli soldiers or settlers. The only exception was the assassination attempt in Gaza to Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
In addition to the public statements, a more obvious signal of bias can be seen in the actions of the Trump administration in regards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. At the UN Security Council, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been the most anti-Palestinian US official ever to set foot in the UN. From day one, she rejected naming the respected former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad to a high UN position, simply because he is Palestinian. Palestinians will not be appointed to senior UN positions because Palestine does not have full membership, Haley said as she defended her public racist decision to veto Fayyad’s appointment. She went on from there to veto every single resolution, or even a statement, coming out of the Security Council that had any criticism of Israel. Halley became the record holder of a resolution submitted by the US that only got the positive vote of its presenter.
More importantly than Twitter feeds and Security Council vetoes has been the anti-Palestinian decisions taken by the Trump administration regarding Jerusalem, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and towards Palestinian human rights. The US ambassador to Israel has been so sympathetic with the Israeli position that he convinced the state department to alter its human rights report to expunge the internationally accepted status of the Palestinian areas as being occupied. By this move, Washington has veered away from binding international law, and the advisery report of the International Criminal Court.
Palestine is also cited as the reason for the US to withdraw from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.
Despite all of the above, Palestinians have not discounted a role for the US in Middle East peace making. The Palestinian position is that the US can be one of a number of international parties that can help bring about peace. Palestinians’ rejection to America’s monopolising of the peace process can hardly be blamed in light of its obvious bias to one of the parties it is trying to make peace with.
Peace requires two parties, and without the Palestinians, the American effort is simply a waste of time.
Palestinian leaders are encouraged to engage with the Americans and make their point of view directly to them. After the Trump administration’s own admission that it “took Jerusalem off the table”, it is difficult to justify any engagement with Washington. While the Palestinian position regarding the American attempts to monopolise peace efforts is understandable, some voices are calling on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to send back the Palestinian envoy to Washington, after he was recalled for consultation following the May 14 ceremony to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The support that the Palestinian cause has received around the world makes the unilateral American effort at peace making a waste of time. Even if the White House does unveil a warped set of ideas under the title of the “ultimate deal”, such an effort will be disastrous in that it will further embolden the Israeli occupiers and violators of international law, while it will not bring Palestinians any closer to the table.
If the US is truly interested in peace, it would gather a number of it’s allies and create an international coalition that will seriously engage both parties to the conflict, and then they can produce a multilateral deal that reflects the will of the international community. If that can be assured, then that Palestinians will engage in such an effort. Without it, the American “ultimate deal” will be added to the many other failed efforts at peace making.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net

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