Jan 03,2018 – Jordan Times –
The Trump-Netanyahu nexus is, on the basic level, bad news for Palestine, Israel, the US, the region and the international community. Trump’s latest outrage is his threat to cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA unless Ramallah returns to talks with an Israel, which colonises land due the Palestinians for their state. US aid sustains the collapsed peace process launched with the signing of the Oslo accord in September 1993, a deal which led to Palestinian recognition of Israel within the 1948 ceasefire lines. Palestinians could retaliate by retracting recognition and reclaiming the whole of Palestine.
Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital cemented his connection with Binyamin Netanyahu. But at what price? The declaration angered Palestinians and forced thinking Israelis and US citizens to ask, “Why did Trump depart from 70years of US policy?” Trump took this decision in spite of massive pressure to stick with the global consensus. He alienated US allies in Europe, Arab world and Asia as well as Muslims the world over.
Trump did not exact a quid pro quo from Netanyahu. There were instant suspicions amongst right-wing Israelis that Trump would demand a high price from Israel for recognition. This clearly was not on the cards and has, at least for some time, removed Trump’s administration from the post of broker of a Palestinian-Israeli peace deal. This is bad news for everyone as negotiations — however unprofitable due to Israeli colonisation — were some sort of a “solution”. With no “solution” for Palestinians, the situation becomes dangerously unpredictable.
Palestinians have cut ties with the US, dismissed it as a mediator in talks with Israel, and declared their rejection of any plan put forward by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner who is supposed to be handling the peace process. Negotiations could, of course, take place between Kushner and Netanyahu with the aim of producing a take-it-or-leave-it deal giving Israel everything it wants and more.
Trump, who does not think “settlements” are an obstacle to a peace deal, could bless the vote of Netanyahu’s Likud Party to annex areas of the West Bank where illegal Israeli colonies have been expanding exponentially. In 2015, 1,982 housing units were built for colonists; in 2016, 2,627 and in 2017, 6,500. On December 24th, Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant said that a plan would be drafted to construct 300,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem in drive to create “housing on the land of united Jerusalem, the capital of Israel”. On Tuesday, the Knesset voted to require a mandate from 80 of 120 members to change the status of East Jerusalem, demanded by Palestinians as the capital of their state.
Kushner had hoped to rope in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman with the aim of offering Israel Arab recognition in exchange for Israeli acceptance of a semi-autonomous “Palestinian state” comprised of Gaza and unconnected urban cantons in the West Bank with Abu Dis as its capital. This would have been a deal even the accommodating prince could not accept.
The nexus is bad news for Palestine because nothing will be done to halt Israel’s accelerated colonisation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem with the aim of forever foreclosing on the emergence of a Palestinian state. From now on, Palestinians can expect an everlasting and increasingly harsh occupation designed to force them to emigrate. Israel’s plan is, of course, in line with the proposal put forward by Theodor Herzl more than a century ago. He called on Zionists to, “Spirit the [Palestinian] population across the frontier.” Although he said, “Both the process of expropriation and the removal must be carried out discretely and circumspectly,” this is not necessary in the age of Trump.
The nexus is bad news for Israel which will never be accepted in this region and will have to invest heavily in military force and armaments to secure the state. This policy has begun to pall. Sixty-three young Israelis have recently refused to join the army due to rejection of “occupation” service in the West Bank. Serving officers and soldiers have joined or submitted testimony to “Breaking the Silence”, a group dedicated to telling the truth about the occupation. Refusal and truth-telling are important as the military is the surviving pillar of the state. The others — the Knesset, government, and civil society — have been corrupted while the Histadrut trade union has disappeared. As long as the occupation lasts of the territories Israel conquered in 1967, Israel will be under challenge at home and abroad.
The Trump-Netanyahu nexus is bad news for the US as it has strengthened the Zionist grip on Washington. For more than 70 years the US policy in this region has been skewed because the White House and Congress have been Israel’s partners in the conquest and colonisation of Palestine. There have been, from time to time, short-lived, failed shows of independence, including by presidents Ronald Reagan and George W, Bush. Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama tried to break free from the Zionists’ iron grip, but he failed. Consequently relations between Obama and Netanyahu were cold and, even, hostile. This constrained Israel’s right-wing land grab to some extent. Trump has embraced Netanyahu although 70 per cent of US Jews are uneasy with this relationship and does not support Netanayhu’s policies. The Trump-Netanyahu nexus is founded on money and family: The $20 million donated to Trump’s election campaign by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and the close ties between the family of Kushner and Netanyahu — who roomed with the Kushners briefly while visiting the US. The Kushners are also strong supporters of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Netanyahu’s pet project during his years in power.
The latest outrages committed under Trump-Netanyahu nexus rules has shown, once again, the international community (such as it is as an entity) is powerless to cope with either the US or Israel. Most of Europe, Asia and Africa and millions of people across the world were vehemently opposed to George W. Bush’s 2003 march on Baghdad — a campaign orchestrated by pro-Israeli neoconservatives close to Bush. Iraq’s fall led to the rise of Al Qaeda and Daesh in this region, its spread across Asia and Africa and infiltration of Europe.
Iran — now branded the region’s bogeyman, had no influence in Iraq before the pro-Iranian Shiite fundamentalists rode into Baghdad on the backs of US tanks and were propelled into governance. Thanks to Arab and Western support for takfiri and other insurgent groups in Syria — seen as Israel’s enemy by the US principally — Iran and Russia now have strong presences in Syria.
We have yet to see how the Trump-Netanyahu nexus responds to this development. Netanyahu has long sought to launch a war on Iran with the intention of dragging in the US. His love affair with the obliging Trump may allow him to do this, launching a conflict that could engulf the entire region.