President Donald Trump announced a long-anticipated Middle East peace plan. This prompted strong approval from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the white house for the occasion.
However, representatives from the Palestinian National Authority were absent from the visit entirely. In turn, they issued immediate censure of the plan, with President Mahmoud Abbas referring to it as a “conspiracy deal.”
The Palestinian outrage in response to this plan is easy to sympathize with after reviewing the plan’s specifics. The proposal refuses full sovereignty for a Palestinian state, prevents Palestine from having a standing army and gives Israel full control of a united Jerusalem.
Clearly, the plan is not a “peace” deal at all, but rather a plan aiming to endorse and normalize Israeli expansion in the Middle East. However, the most egregious portion of this proposal comes from the complete disregard of Israel’s heinous violations of international law.
In the 1967 “Six-Day War,” Israel captured territory in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The acquisition of this territory itself was an unethical preemptive strike that was largely unprovoked. Additionally, over the last few decades, Israel has been building settlements in these territories, primarily the West Bank.
According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, establishing settlements in territories captured by war is a violation of rules. The international community has agreed multiple times that these actions are illegal, with the UN passing several resolutions condemning Israel’s actions.
The Israeli government has not only ignored these resolutions but has doubled down in its efforts. Prime Minister Netanyahu has even pledged several times to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
President Trump’s Middle East deal does little to address these issues. Under the proposal, Israel would be able to keep its settlements in the West Bank, and even retain the possibility of annexing these areas. The closest the deal comes to addressing Israeli expansion is a slow, four-year “land freeze” in which Israel will limit its settlement construction. During this time, Palestinians would have to be encouraged to negotiate further.
Trump described this plan as a “win-win” for both sides. Palestinian concerns are hardly addressed, other than proposing $50 billion in international investment for the possibility of building a Palestinian entity. The plan offers no other gains for Palestine and gives Israel most of what it has sought after for decades.
Furthermore, the plan ignores the subjugation of the Palestinian people by Israel. After occupying Palestinian territory in 1967, Israel established blockades around these areas. These blockades, primarily on the West Bank and Gaza, have crippled local economies.
With exporting and importing abilities severely limited, Palestinians living in these areas are largely trapped in poverty at the hands of Israel. Moreover, Israel has slaughtered protesters in Gaza, possibly constituting war crimes. President Trump’s plan once again fails to address the abuse of the Palestinian people and declines to criticize Israel for its role in causing it.
A serious peace deal cannot be reached for the region until both sides are taken seriously. Palestinian leaders have every right to dismiss President Trump’s plan, as it represents nothing more than an insult to the Palestinian people, ignorance of the region’s history and an unequivocal endorsement of the illegal Israeli occupation.