Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas convened a special meeting of the PLO Tuesday, where he was expected to call for a wide condemnation of President Donald trump’s peace proposals from Arab governments.
So far no one’s been calling, but Abbas did receive a phone call Tuesday night from the head of Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, who stressed that the Palestinian people, in all their factions and political parties, must put all their differences aside and stand side by side in rejecting the plan to “liquidate the Palestinian national project.”
Hundreds of Arabs demonstrated in major PA and Gaza cities at the same time President Donald Trump was introducing his peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian, a.k.a. the deal of the century, the official PA news agency WAFA reported. There were small rallies in Ramallah, Shechem, Jenin and Gaza city, denouncing the plan and supporting “the Palestinian leadership in its adamant opposition to the plan.”
But even WAFA had to admit only a few hundred Arabs in several cities braved the cold and schlepped their flags over to the city centers. The vast majority remained curled up under the covers in front of the television set, and were possibly contemplating how their lives might be altered with the promised investment of $50 billion. Did the showmanship team of Trump & Netanyahu grab their attention?
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday: “We cannot say anything until we become acquainted with its contents,” seeing as no one has sent them a copy of the plan so far. And Russia’s Permanent Envoy to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya told reporters the US did not hold consultations with Russia on the plan ahead of time.
Russian president’s Special Envoy for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Tuesday that the main thing that matters is what the Palestinians and other Arab nations think of it.
“We will analyze it,” he said, but “it is important to hear Palestinians’ and Arabs’ opinion about it.”
Former PLO spokesperson Diana Buttu wrote in Haaretz Tuesday night the most succinct explanation so far, why the Trump deal was dead on arrival as far as the Palestinias are concerned:
“Israel will not be required to dismantle its illegal settlements. Palestinians will be required to renounce their internationally-recognized right to return to their homeland. Palestinians will have little access to Jerusalem. Israel will be allowed, in violation of international law, to annex parts of the West Bank.
“To the unengaged outside observer this may not mean much, but for Palestinians, and indeed for the international community, this plan speaks volumes.”
Buttu concluded – as many in Israel fear will be the shape of the next few months: “For Palestinians, the next steps are clear: instead of shying away from holding Israel accountable, as the Palestinian Authority has done in the past, we must now begin pressing to ensure that Israel faces consequences for continuing to deny us our freedom and steal our land, just as the South African anti-apartheid activists pushed for an end to South African apartheid.”
In other words, like clockwork, the Trump peace plan, like all the peace deals and peace offers between Israel and the Palestinians, will result in a wave of bloodshed, possibly a third intifada. The fact that Abbas has already instructed his security forces to suspend their cooperation with Israel’s security services speaks volumes about the next phase.
The official Jordanian news agency Petra reported that in the capital Amman, on Tuesday, protesters staged a sit-in in front of the US embassy and rejected the Trump deal, chanting that the deal “will fall, no matter how strong the state behind it is.” The protesters called on Arab countries not to accept the deal because it would lead to the destruction of the nation and would contribute to more tension in the region.
The UK on Tuesday offered a cautious welcome to Trump’s peace plan, after the president had suggested that “Boris called” to support him, meaning Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Downing Street confirmed in a statement that PM Johnson had spoken to Trump earlier, and that “the leaders discussed the United States’ proposal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which could prove a positive step forwards.”
Here’s another angle: as soon as President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu were done, I received an urgent email from my friend Emily Mayer at IfNotNow, which started: “Trump just released his ‘peace’ plan, and the bankruptcy of America’s role in Israel/Palestine is on full display. This is a political ploy by both leaders to distract from their abuse of power, designed to help Netanyahu win the election in less than six weeks.”
Is it possible Emily hadn’t read the plan before getting on the email machine? I mean, rightwing Israelis are running around like the proverbial headless chicken over Trump’s gifts to the Palestinians: a 4-year freeze on areas outside the settlements; a direct highway connecting Gaza and Ramallah; and parts of Jerusalem will become the capital of a Palestinian State.
The fact is, the world is not interested in innovative peace plans, they don’t want to read them and they certainly don’t wish to appear as if they support it. Senator Bernie Sanders, running for the DNC presidential nomination insisted if the peace doesn’t hurt Israel it ain’t really peace. He tweeted Tuesday night: “It must end the Israeli occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent state of their own alongside a secure Israel. Trump’s so-called ‘peace deal’ doesn’t come close, and will only perpetuate the conflict. It is unacceptable. Any acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN resolutions.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren, another presidential wannabe, insisted “Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state. Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form—and reverse any policy that supports it.”
The world wants a peace process, not a peace. Always did, always will.
It’s hopeful moments like these that make a man feel so deeply pessimistic.