Palestinian rights

March 06, 2019

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THE American establishment has always been in thrall to Israel. However, the Trump administration has shed all pretences of maintaining a measured attitude where the Arab-Israeli dispute is concerned, time and again demonstrating that it is firmly, unwaveringly on Israel’s side. Perhaps the biggest example of this came late in 2017 when the Americans decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate their embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv. That this move flew in the face of international opinion apparently did not matter as far as Donald Trump and his team were concerned. Now, Washington has gone a step further and decided to shut down the US consulate general in Jerusalem (which was its primary conduit in the city to the Palestinians) and merge its operations with the US embassy.

While on the surface it may seem like a simple administrative move, it is clearly not, as the US is sending a strong message by further downgrading its links with the Palestinians, and pushing them to the margins. American officials have said the move was made for reasons of “efficiency”, but the Palestinians beg to differ. As Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation put it, the merger of the consulate with the embassy is a “political assault on Palestinian rights and identity”. Basically, Washington is indicating that in the Arab-Israeli dispute, it is Israel that matters to them, and the Palestinians are small fry whose rights can be ignored. However, the US should not forget that this demeaning attitude towards the Palestinian people will only breed more contempt for Washington in the Arab and Muslim world, and will send the message that where the Palestine question is concerned, the Americans cannot be trusted as impartial negotiators.

But perhaps the Trump administration is taking such brash steps because it knows that major players in the Arab world are willing to bypass the Palestinians and their rights in a bid to establish official relations with Israel. Sadly, the two-state solution as envisaged under the Oslo Accords is today an anachronism, with no one to stop Israeli expansionism and the Zionist state’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians. And to add insult to injury, a ‘peace plan’ being trumpeted by Mr Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East point man Jared Kushner is being forced on the Palestinians. From the details available of this plan, it is all but a declaration of surrender for the Arabs, and a statement of victory for Israel. As experts have said, no Palestinian will be willing to accept this deal, which apparently, among other things, calls for the Palestinians to forget about Jerusalem/Al Quds. And with Jewish fanatics infiltrating Israeli politics and capturing state power, it is unlikely the Arabs of Palestine will get back their land, or their rights, anytime soon.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2019