Enough meandering around the bush! Palestinians have right on their side both morally and legally. Yet Israel is able to trample upon these victims of an illegal 52-year-long occupation with absolute and utter impunity, more so now than ever before. While it is the case that almost all US administrations swayed towards Israel’s side, at the very least they erected a non-biased facade for public consumption and at least two that of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, worked towards a two-state-solution with sincerity.
Carter’s genuine mediation efforts were untimely coming when Arab-Israeli hostilities were at their highest. Working with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, Clinton could have touted success but was stymied by elections that brought Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush to power just as negotiations in Taba were a hair’s breadth from a positive conclusion as many of those who were at the table have attested.
Bush held his nose in 2003 to announce the roadmap which was nothing more than a sop to bring Arab states on board the US invasion of Iraq. Obama’s sympathies lay with the Palestinians but he lacked sufficient courage to put his money where his mouth was.
The Trump administration, however, has unashamedly opened its cards with a flourish. In its eyes, Israel’s right-wing Netanyahu-led government can do no wrong. With few exceptions, US lawmakers heartily applaud. Just days ago the House of Representatives voted to condemn the BDS movement. The victims have been shamefully painted as the bad guys and those who dare to justifiably criticise Israel’s cruel policies are slurred with an anti-Semitic label.
Abbas has had enough. Unlike Israel, he has abided by the terms of the Oslo Accords and pinned his hopes on the legal route to a Palestinian state. He has finally announced the Palestinian’s withdrawal from agreements with Israel.
President Trump has stamped and sealed what most of us Palestinian watchers suspected all along. Israel is either America’s 51st state or America is Israel’s client state, whatever the case they are indivisible.
So where does this glued-at-the-hip US-Israeli relationship leave the Palestinians? The answer is alone. Unfortunately there are no intermediaries capable of influencing or reining-in the Jewish state. Those willing to do so would end up fighting windmills.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been criticised in some quarters for rejecting Washington’s traditional role as an intermediary but he had no choice. How on earth can the Trump White House be a neutral arbitrator when its unbounded allegiance to one side is indisputable? And to add insult to injury Trump’s envoy Jared Kushner and his Ambassador to Israel David Melech Friedman are both funders of illegal Jewish colonies on the West Bank.
The current US administration is Israel’s coercive partner acting as bad cop to Israel’s worst cop. Of course, Abbas didn’t fall for the ‘Deal of the Century’ hoax that is nothing more than a US effort to buy off his people’s hopes for independence. Of course he is unable to put his faith in Trump who has unilaterally donated Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights to his Israeli buddy while cutting off aid to the Palestinian National Authority as well as funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA. America’s closure of the PLO office in Washington says it all.
Here is the joke. “President Trump is very fond of President Abbas,” says Kushner. “He likes him very much personally …” Sure, he likes him so much that last week he authorised his ambassador to the UN to block a proposed Security Council resolution sponsored by Kuwait, Indonesia and South Africa aimed at condemning Israel’s demolition of 10 Palestinian apartment buildings on Jerusalem’s outskirts. The homes were being built on Palestinian land and construction companies had building permits.
In the meantime, Israel’s slaughter of Palestinian men, women and children protesting in Gaza on their own soil continues. On Friday, the Israeli forces shot 71 Palestinian civilians, among them 30 children, three women and a paramedic despite the fact that none posed a threat to the border.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has documented Israel’s unbridled murder of Gazans since March 30, last year, a death toll that currently stands at 207 and includes children, women, the disabled, paramedics and journalists. Some 2,742 children and 409 women have been wounded, many seriously resulting in amputations, paralysis, blindness and deafness.
These horrendous statistics alone amounts to a war crime by any standard. However, the US bans the entry of officials from the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigating the alleged crimes of Americans and Israelis.
Abbas has had enough. Unlike Israel, he has abided by the terms of the Oslo Accords and pinned his hopes on the legal route to a Palestinian state. The Palestinian National Authority has cooperated with the Israeli government. It has played by international rules and in return has received multiple kicks in the teeth. He has finally announced the Palestinian’s withdrawal from agreements with Israel and as a precursor he has reduced “security coordination” with the Israeli military to “the required minimum”.
I wish I could end on a positive note but in all honesty it is hard to glimpse a chink of light for the Palestinians going forward. At first sight only two options remain. Resist or accept any crumbs thrown their way from the Israeli/US table. I believe I know which one the courageous Palestinian people will choose.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.