US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo’s recent farewell tour of a settlement in the occupied West Bank and the Israel-occupied Golan Heights in Syria encapsulates what the attitude of the Trump White House has been towards the Arab-Israeli conflict: embrace Tel Aviv — fully and without question — and offer the Arabs scraps from the table and term it the ‘deal of the century’. Observers have noted that this was the highest-level visit of an American official to an illegal Israeli settlement, as well as the occupied Golan. Most of the world community acknowledges the West Bank and Golan Heights as occupied territories, but on Donald Trump’s watch the official US position has shifted to ‘gifting’ these two areas to Israel. Furthermore, the decision to recognise the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist state was another move by Mr Trump to deny the Palestinians their historical rights, and reward Israel’s decades of occupation and illegalities. Mr Pompeo also described the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians” as “anti-Semitic”. Moreover, while in the Golan, he had the gall to say that “this is a part of Israel”. Both the Palestinians and the Syrians have slammed the American official’s visit as provocative.

While the Trump administration did all it could to bury the dream of a Palestinian state forever, and ensure Israel was not reproached for its brutality, all eyes will be on how Joe Biden handles this sensitive file come January. For sure, both Mr Biden and his choice for vice president Kamala Harris are staunchly pro-Israel, as are most members of the American political class. While Mr Biden may reverse American recognition of illegal settlements, he has stated that he will not change his predecessor’s decision on Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this means that Palestinian hopes for justice from the new US administration will remain unrealised. What is more, one after the other the Palestinians’ Arab ‘brothers’ are joining the queue to recognise Israel, with or without a just settlement of the Palestinian question. Therefore, the outlook for the region does not look good. Deprived of justice, and confronting sustained Israeli brutalities, the Palestinians will continue to resist, while their detractors will wrongfully label them as ‘enemies of peace’ for rejecting inherently flawed and unjust ‘peace’ plans, and demanding the rights that were snatched from their forefathers over seven decades ago.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020

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