Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has broken his silence to expose that years of US mediation in the peace process was a farce designed to keep his people subdued, dangling on a hope and a prayer. Abbas has finally done away with diplomatic-speak to frankly disclose what he has long known to be true. The Oslo Accords is nothing but a sham existing purely on paper.
Although the Palestinian National Authority has kept to its side of the bargain, Israel has reneged on its commitments, is bent on expanding its West Bank colonies and ensuring that Jewish residents of Jerusalem will constitute a majority.
The PLO followed-up with a suspension of its recognition of Israel as well as cooperation on security issues until Israel halts colony construction and drops its claim to Jerusalem as its capital.
Benjamin Netanyahu has been throwing darts at the peace process since he took office. He abhors the idea of a two-state solution unless it’s a demilitarised zone where its occupants have no control over their borders or airspace, vulnerable to being re-occupied, bombed or blockaded at Israel’s whim.
In the run-up to his re-election he wooed right-wing voters pledging there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch. Believe him!
US President Donald Trump has virtually sealed the coffin on the dream of two peoples living side by side with his reckless recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, his slashing of US funds to UNWRA and his threats to close the PLO’s Washington office.
He has smashed even the cracked facade of America’s impartial broker status, leaving the Palestinian National Authority casting around for a replacement; except realistically there is no replacement.
The Palestinian National Authority is looking to Europe, Russia and others to fill the gap but those countries hold little sway over the Israeli government’s decision-making. The only nation that has any leverage with Israel in terms of security, diplomatic clout and financial backing is the United States. So where does that leave the Palestinians?
Logically, if two-states are no longer an option, there remains the one-state solution whereby Palestinians will benefit from citizenship rights. That is also dead in the water due to demographics. Palestinians have more children than Israelis so over time Israel lose its claim to being a Jewish state.
As long as the Trump-Netanyahu duo exists the chance of peace is close to zero. Moreover their successors are unlikely to buck the trend when the pro-Israel lobby wields immense political influence and there is little appetite among the Israeli population to relinquish land, they call Samaria and Judea, for peace.
Most Israelis don’t give a fig for world opinion and are content with the status quo. They have the tanks, the Apaches and the guns and, as the Israeli columnist Gideon Levy highlighted, Israelis overwhelmingly view Palestinians as less than human.
He once penned an opinion piece comparing their treatment at the hands of Israel as akin to that of animals and received angry messages from his compatriots in response….messages from animal rights groups.
Israelis were furious with him for daring to ask their former prime minister Ehud Barak what he would have done had he been born Palestinian. “If I were a Palestinian of the right age, I would join, at some point, one of the extremist groups,” was his answer.
Levy needed armed protection. His bodyguards were colonists who harangued him daily. I would have felt safer without them, he said.
However, there may be a plan for the Palestinians slow cooking. It is called transfer.
Israel’s Minister of Education and Chairman of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett, supported by the Finance Minister, recently savaged President Abbas and called upon his government to annex all West Bank colonies, placing them under Israeli sovereignty.
Others, including Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have touted population transfers. One hideous idea that has been mulled is a Gaza-Sinai State melding the Gaza Strip with the northern Egyptian Sinai, currently a hotbed of terrorism.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a shocking claim in December, accusing the US of relocating Daesh fighters from Syria to Sinai to join their affiliates in Sinai.
An article in the Turkish paper Yeni Safak reads: “The US-Israeli alliance has set its sights on Egypt’s Sinai region.” If so, the question is why? Could it be to pressurise the Egyptian president into offloading a troubled region?
Following the ousting of Egypt’s Brotherhood president Mohammad Mursi, Egyptian media reports alleged Mursi had sealed a secret deal with the Obama administration involving giving up land in Sinai in return for billions of dollars. This cannot be confirmed.
However, a report this month in Ha’aretz headed “Netanyahu asked Obama to give Palestinians land in the Sinai” supports that thesis. The article reveals that the proposal called for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank but was dropped when President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi refused, adding “the plan is similar to recent proposals by Israel and the Trump administration.
If this is, indeed, the dirty game permeating Netanyahu’s mind, neither the Palestinians nor Egyptians will accept it. Tragically, the fate of the long-tormented Palestinian people still weighs in the balance.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.