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The ‘Deal of the Century’ is Apartheid

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With great fanfare, President Trump finally unveiled his long-anticipated Middle East peace proposal. The proposal was labeled ‘The Deal of the Century’ because it was supposed to offer an even-handed and just solution to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Instead it does something very different. The ‘Deal of the Century’ resurrects and restores grand apartheid, a racist political system that should have been left in the dustbins of history.

Under President Trump’s newly unveiled peace plan, the Palestinians will be granted limited autonomy within a Palestinian homeland that consists of multiple non-contiguous enclaves scattered throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The government of Israel will retain security control over the Palestinian enclaves and will continue to control Palestinian borders, airspace, aquifers, maritime waters, and electromagnetic spectrum. Israel will be allowed to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in the West Bank. The Palestinians will be allowed to select the leaders of their new homeland but will have no political rights in Israel, the state that actually rules over them.
Map of a future Palestinian state in the Trump administration plan.

Map of a future Palestinian state in the Trump administration plan.

President Trump’s plan for racial control and segregation should sound disturbingly familiar. Indeed it should immediately bring to mind the Bantu homelands which were the cornerstone of South Africa’s ‘grand apartheid’. While ‘petty apartheid’ was the term used to describe racial segregation on buses and public facilities, ‘grand apartheid’ referred to the many laws which enforced territorial and political separation between black and white South Africans.

The Bantu homelands, which were key to the territorial and political separation of racial groups, had their origin in the Land Acts of 1913 and 1936 which created reserves for the native black population. Then in 1970 the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act made the native population legal citizens of their Bantustans, denying black South Africans political rights in white South Africa. The South African government created Bantu homelands in order to claim that South Africa, a state with a majority black population, was actually a state with a majority white population. The Bantu homelands were political sleight of hand; a poorly veiled attempt to give racist ethnic rule the veneer of democratic respectability.

Map of the future Israeli state in the Trump administration plan.

Map of the future Israeli state in the Trump administration plan.

Like South Africa’s grand apartheid, the Trump plan physically and politically separates Palestinians by placing them within a non-contiguous homeland (Areas A and B and Gaza), and declaring them citizens of that homeland. Like South Africa’s grand apartheid, the Trump plan grants the Palestinian homeland autonomy over civil matters like education and healthcare, while critical areas such as trade, immigration, and security will remain under Israeli control. Like South Africa’s grand apartheid, the Trump plan is political sleight of hand: a thinly veiled attempt to claim that Israel, a state that rules over roughly the same number of Jews and Palestinians, is actually a Jewish-majority state. Also like apartheid South Africa, the Trump administration claims the homelands are a temporary solution. Once the indigenous population proves itself ready for self-governance they will one day be granted something that resembles a state.

Using a combination of financial sticks and carrots, some of which were unveiled last June at the economic summit in Bahrain, the Trump administration will try to force Palestinians to accept the ‘peace plan’ and declare independence within their homeland, just as the apartheid South African government once tried to force the native black population to declare independence within their Bantustans. While the crony leadership of some Bantustans did indeed declare independence, South Africa’s grand apartheid ultimately failed because local leaders, including the African National Congress and the legendary Nelson Mandela, waged a determined and powerful international campaign against apartheid.

President Trump’s peace plan was labeled the ‘Deal of the Century’ because it was supposed to bring peace and dignity to the people of the Middle East. Instead the ‘peace plan’ does the exact opposite and resurrects apartheid, a racist political system that should have been left in the dustbins of history.

The Trump peace plan cannot, and should not be implemented because it gives Israelis the illusion of security while in reality trapping them within an unstable regime based on racial oppression. The Trump peace plan cannot, and should not be implemented because it gravely violates the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people and very likely constitutes a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute (1998). The Trump peace plan cannot, and should not be implemented because once we look past all the streamers and confetti, it turns out ‘The Deal of the Century’ is nothing less than Apartheid.

Updated: 3:45 p.m., January 28, 2020.

Sheena Anne Arackal

Sheena Anne Arackal holds a master’s degree from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Now based in Houston, Texas, she specializes in the field of ethnic conflict.

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35 Responses

  1. bcg on January 28, 2020, 2:09 pm

    Two days ago (italics mine):

    …Bennett Says Israel Won’t Let Palestinian State Happen
    ‘In no case, UNDER NO CONDITION, will we allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state or recognition of such a state,’ defense minister says

    • Misterioso on January 29, 2020, 10:40 am

      @bcg, et al

      “Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all”

      Washington Post, January 29/20, by Ishaan Tharoor

      “Maybe in the early stages of his presidency, it seemed plausible that a figure as sui generis as President Trump could untangle the Gordian knot of Middle East peace. But rather than working to bridge the profound gap between Israelis and Palestinians that bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades, the Trump administration has spent the past three years doling out concessions to the former, while placing its boot on the latter.

      “And so it was not surprising when Trump laid out his supposed ‘deal of the century’ on Tuesday afternoon that the White House’s proposal looked less like a possible agreement than a declaration of terms for Palestinian surrender.

      “The Trump administration’s now-published “vision for peace,” the culmination of what the president said was ‘a long and very arduous process,’ outlines a scenario in which Israel maintains sovereignty west of the Jordan river, a capital in an undivided Jerusalem, and control over Jewish enclaves and settlements scattered through the Palestinian territories.

      “The Palestinians, meanwhile, get … not much. In Trump’s scheme, backed by Netanyahu, they would give up the claims of Palestinian refugees and accept a conditions-based path to statehood in a patchwork of territory carved up by Israeli roads and settlements. Trump’s plan cedes security control of the eastern border with Jordan wholly to Israel, calls for the dismantling of Palestinian militant groups and allots a Palestinian capital on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem — rather than in East Jerusalem proper, as envisioned by the international community and successive U.S. administrations.

      “Netanyahu made clear in the White House what this meant: ‘On this day,’ he said, addressing Trump, ‘you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty … in areas of Judea and Samaria’ — the biblical terms for the West Bank commonly invoked in Israel — ‘that are vital to our security and central to our heritage.’ Shortly after the remarks, reports came that Netanyahu’s government plans to vote a vote on annexation of some 30 percent of the West Bank as early as this weekend.

      “None of this, of course, was brokered with the Palestinians, who were absent from the room and rejected talks with Trump officials once it became clear how one-sided their approach was. There were a handful of Arab ambassadors in attendance, but none from states that have served as key interlocutors to the Palestinians — including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, most Arab states have already disengaged from or spoken out against the Trump-led initiative.

      “Palestinians angrily rejected Trump’s plan. ‘After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no’s to the ‘deal of the century,’ ‘ said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. ‘We will not kneel and we will not surrender.’

      “But the unveiling of Trump’s plan presents a dead end for Abbas, whose primary role is that of the custodian of a moribund peace process that was supposed to lead to a two-state solution. The archipelago of Palestinian enclaves proposed by Trump — subordinate to Israeli security concerns and more akin to the bantustans’ of apartheid-era South Africa — is emphatically not that.

      “Trump and boosters of the plan argue that his approach is a more ‘realistic’ reflection of the facts on the ground. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and permanent control over the Jordan Valley are, in this view, a fait accompli. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East point man, has argued that Palestinian political aspirations aren’t as important as the economic development of their territories — a perspective emphatically opposed by most Palestinians, who won’t trade their hopes for equal political rights for cash incentives.

      “Critics contend that Trump is taking the fundamental power asymmetry between the Israelis and Palestinians and pressing it to his and Netanyahu’s advantage. ‘Trump is creating not only a new Israel, but a new world,’ wrote Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy. ‘A world without international law, without honoring international resolutions, without even the appearance of justice.’

      “The timing is also conspicuous. The two men, beaming onstage in the East Room of the White House, are fighting for their political lives: Trump is the subject of an ongoing Senate impeachment trial and, on Tuesday, Israel’s attorney general filed criminal indictments against Netanyahu on corruption charges. The cases will shadow his re-election bid in March.

      “Moving forward, plans for perennial Israeli primacy over the Holy Land are powerful sops to key political constituencies for both leaders — Christian evangelical voters for Trump and the nationalist Israeli right for Netanyahu. ‘This is about Trump. This is about Netanyahu. It isn’t about peace,’ said Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian mission in Britain, in an interview with the BBC.

      “In a separate conversation with Reuters, Zomlot pointed to what happens after the United States and the rest of the world give up the ghost of the two-state solution and dismiss Palestinian calls for equal political rights. ‘January 28, 2020, will mark the official legal stamp of approval from the United States for Israel to implement a fully-fledged apartheid system,’ said Zomlot. ‘History will mark the name of Trump as the one who pushed Israel in the wrong direction.'”

  2. Kathleen on January 28, 2020, 2:14 pm

    Watched the spectacle. BB was giddy with criminal intentions all approved by Trump. Set up by Kushner who should have to register under FARA

    Trump and Kushners “Fake Deal of the Century” Palestinians get whacked again.

    • Maghlawatan on January 29, 2020, 9:00 am

      Kushner is straight out of the Protocols.

      The Israelis will do anything to avoid confronting the fact that the settlement project was insane from the get go. The continual doubling down didn’t help.

      Establishment Jews in Europe and the US are scared shitless about BDS , the rise to power of the left and the fall of neoliberalism .

      Get the popcorn in. Zionism has a lot of chickens to welcome home.

      I hope Israel collapses before Freedland dies.

  3. Kathleen on January 28, 2020, 2:27 pm

    Oh yeah Prof Cole nails it “Steal of the Century”

  4. Ossinev on January 28, 2020, 2:55 pm

    “Oh yeah Prof Cole nails it “Steal of the Century”

    All unfolding and maturing as expected into Apartheid Mark 2. And surprise surprise “Sob” Erekat still grasping desperately to those keys which he has been continually threatening to hand back to the Israelis.Arguably the major betrayors of the Palestinian people have not been the Zionist colonisers but the Abbas cabal which has been fooling the Palestinians into believing that the Israelis were ever serious about a second sovereign state.

    That is the simple logic of this Zionist charade and the only possible solution and the Israelis having been unable in the age of the smartphone to forcefully cleanse the native population will have brought it on to themselves.

    When the younger generation of Palesinians fully grasps the potential benefits of equal rights as equal citizens eg freedom to travel ,freedom to move from street A to Street B with checkpoints and body searches in a single state and start marching and demonstrating for those rights all other options will be history and Zionist puppetry of Western states in this farce will also rapidly be a thing of the past.

  5. eljay on January 28, 2020, 3:08 pm

    The President of the United States of America “Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade” has taken another bold step toward:
    – maximizing and securing Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism;
    – absolving Israel of its obligations under international law; and
    – absolving Israel of accountability for its past and on-going (war) crimes.

    Donald Trump continues to be a Zionist wet-dream come true.

  6. Atlantaiconoclast on January 28, 2020, 3:48 pm

    I wish there was more talk here about what new steps can be taken to overturn the dominant paradigm underlying the continuing erosion of Palestinian rights. It is time to get very serious. Time is running out. Some people seem to assume that Israel will just end up doing the right thing one day. That is so naive.

  7. Talkback on January 28, 2020, 5:00 pm

    I think it’s just a huge scam. Israel told Trump what it wants to be the next step. US recognition of the annexation of the settlements and the Jordan valley. Then Trump said, I can’t do that so easily, we have to pretend that you are giving up something, too. So how about we tell everyone that this is part of a peace deal? You are going to pretend that you accept the commitment to the Palestinans, but will never implement them ever. No Palestinan capital in East Jerusalem, not state, etc.

    Basically this is just a variation of the Oslo modification of the occupation. Violence is going to happen and Israel is going to respond by continuing to build illegal settlements and everyone is going to blame and punish the Palestinians even more for not taking the bantustan bait.

    But it’s good that Israel’s Apartheid becomes more obvious.

    • Kay24 on January 28, 2020, 9:34 pm

      It is also a transparent effort to make that crook Bibi, who has just been indicted, to score points with his naive voters. Which makes me wonder how much Sammy Adelson must be pouring into Trump’s re-election coffers. It would be a humungous amount.

    • Mooser on January 28, 2020, 11:15 pm

      If this is the arrangement Israel wants, it will be very expensive to maintain. And guess who gets to pay for it all? And don’t be cheap about it, America, Israeli lives depend on you.

  8. Blaine Coleman on January 28, 2020, 5:08 pm

    Yes, there is something that will overturn the apartheid model being rammed down Palestinian throats.

    BDS can liberate Palestine. It can be promoted very easily in city councils:

    BDS will change the atmosphere.

    • Kay24 on January 28, 2020, 6:58 pm

      It is time the world, especially the Muslim countries, to intensify the BDS movement.

      But don’t expect Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt to do the right thing. They have formed dangerous liaisons with the apartheid nation, responsible for the suffering in the Palestinian territories.

  9. CHUCKMAN on January 28, 2020, 6:06 pm

    Thank you, a truly excellent summary piece on Trump’s Peace Plan.

    And the truth of its characterization – formalized apartheid – is evident from the marshalling of the basic facts.

  10. Kay24 on January 28, 2020, 6:54 pm

    This is indeed a farce of a deal, and a sick joke. This was written by the criminals, favoring the criminals, and arrogantly announced by two criminals. This is far worse than Jared Kushner’s stupidity to purchase a $1 billion real estate at the height of real estate prices. Trump is simply rewarding the casino magnate and his wife, for their generous contributions to his past, and most probably next election. If the Palestinians were as wealthy as Saudi Arabia, would Trump be throwing them under the bus?

    Shame on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt for betraying their own, and now sleeping with the enemy, who has occupied, stolen, and systematically killed innocent people, in their neighborhood. They now side with those they once hated, but now break bread with, for their own devious reasons.

    Trump’s disdain for the Palestinians has been obvious from the time he gave their occupier Jerusalem, and cruelly stopped all aid to them, hoping it would make them suffer and accept the crumbs thrown at them. It is disgusting to see the zionists show their outrage that the Palestinians are not grateful, and not grabbing this “wonderful opportunity” which is a “win-win” for all, as Trump says. Where are the grown up in the international arena, who should be stepping up and calling this what it really is, THE STEAL OF THE CENTURY?

    So who gave the US the power to decide how to carve up a disputed chunk of land and give the larger share to an apartheid country? What jurisdiction does the US have in the Middle East to cut, chop, and redraw, stolen lands to please campaign donors? This is sheer BS brought to us by Netanyahu, Trump, and Kushner, three ethically corrupt men, two under investigation.
    Is the world going to accept this outrage as usual?

    • RoHa on January 28, 2020, 9:26 pm

      “Shame on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt for betraying their own, ”

      What makes Palestinians “their own”?

  11. Tom Suarez on January 29, 2020, 4:50 am

    Summarizing Fox News’ four articles on the “deal” at writing, this is a historic, bold, generous, and selfless attempt to bring peace, downplayed by the liberal media, and which will fail because the Palestinian have yet again rejected it out of hand.

    • Talkback on January 29, 2020, 10:51 am

      That’s what I thought. It is 1948 all over again. The only difference is that this partition solution is even worse. No state in a small part of Palestine. And of course, Israel is going to claim that it is accepting it and then they will abandon it and remind everyone that it was just the Paletinians who rejected it.

    • Maghlawatan on January 29, 2020, 4:18 pm

      It gives the Palestinians twice as much land as they have now. Plus it’s pragmatic.
      What do they need the Jordan Valley for anyway ?

  12. Marnie on January 29, 2020, 7:10 am

    It’s unreal that the 2 heads of state are Tweedledum (impeached) and Tweedledee (indicted). I could only take a few minutes of this – watching ivanka work the room, seeing the orgasmic glee of miriam adelson and then listening for 30 seconds to #ImpeachedForLife speak before I had to turn the channel. There is no way a peace plan can be brokered without the other half of the equation – the palestinian leadership, just as there’s no way a trial can be conducted without witnesses and evidence. Impeached and indicted will destroy the world because of their pathologic greed and vanity, unless a house falls on each of them.

  13. John O on January 29, 2020, 7:10 am

    Does anyone else find it a bit odd (to say the least), that the plan includes a Palestinian (terror) tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank?

    • eljay on January 29, 2020, 8:44 am

      || John O: Does anyone else find it a bit odd (to say the least), that the plan includes a Palestinian (terror) tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank? ||

      The shortest distance between Gaza and the West Bank appears to be somewhere around 40km. It would have made considerably more sense for:
      – the Palestinians to have a surface corridor (say, 1km wide); and
      – Israel to run a very short tunnel (2km, max) beneath it.

      To offer the Palestinians a 40km underground corridor for road, rail, utilities, etc. is just another Zionist slap in the face to the Palestinians. But what’s another slap to someone who’s already been knocked down and kicked in the face, right?

    • Marnie on January 30, 2020, 3:08 am

      It’s ironic isn’t it, that the cries from the Knesset and right wing/zionists is those damn terrorist tunnels!! They spend a lot of energy destroying tunnels (guess ImpeachedForLife and slumlord son-in-law didn’t get that memo) and slumlord’s plan is — build tunnels!. My only real take on that is to make palestinians invisible, kind of on the same line as separate roads. Good luck with that (not, may this plan crash and burn). Also, there are more palestinians than zionist jews (apparently the only time zionists shoot with blanks/rubber bullets is in the process of procreation).

  14. [email protected] on January 29, 2020, 7:50 am

    I’m uncomfortable with people suggesting the idea that ‘Israel is becoming an apartheid state’, or that it ‘is in danger of becoming an apartheid state’. It has ALWAYS, since its Basic Laws in 1948, been an apartheid state. I wonder what critique this author would give of the Israeli historian Uri Davis’s book “Apartheid Israel”. Let’s take off the soft gloves and tell the truth the way it is.

  15. Maghlawatan on January 29, 2020, 9:36 am

    Kushner says in this interview that with this dud “Israel will be less and less isolated internationally “

    around 3:30

    And he is a chosen person.

    Ma sha Allah

  16. Stephen Shenfield on January 29, 2020, 10:43 am

    I recommend reading the document and looking closely at the maps:

    In certain respects — those the Israeli power elite care about most — it is quite a detailed document and has clearly been written by Israeli officials. Not, I would guess, by Netanyahu himself. And certainly Trump had nothing to do with it. US officials may have had some input, at least in areas where US participation in the arrangements is envisioned. But style as well as content suggest that Israeli officials were the main drafters.

    This document is much more than a PR move in the momentary interests of Trump and/or Netanyahu. It embodies a consensus position of the Israeli power elite. I would call it a diktat, defined in one dictionary as ‘a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed on a defeated nation.’ Or ‘terms of capitulation.’

    The introductory rhetoric has strikes a vaguely conciliatory note, but the more you get into the detail, the nitty-gritty, the more blatant the peremptory tone, the one-sidedness and sheer meanness of the demands.

    What Israel is announcing to the Palestinians is basically this: ‘Everything we have managed to grab so far we intend to keep, but we shall now stop grabbing for four years while you consider your position. If you capitulate we can start going easier on you, but that will be at our sole discretion, we are not going to make any promises. If you prove stubborn we shall start grabbing even more.’

    Unless, that is, the outside world intervenes and exerts sufficient pressure on Israel to get it to moderate its position. But this ‘plan’ is going to be the new starting point, so study it carefully.

    • eljay on January 29, 2020, 11:09 am

      || Stephen Shenfield: … What Israel is announcing to the Palestinians is basically this: ‘Everything we have managed to grab so far we intend to keep, but we shall now stop grabbing for four years while you consider your position. If you capitulate we can start going easier on you, but that will be at our sole discretion, we are not going to make any promises. If you prove stubborn we shall start grabbing even more.’ … ||

      This is the sort of Zionist “peace” jon s keeps advocating. It has nothing to do with justice, accountability or equality, all of which Zionists – including jon s – hypocritically despise when it comes to I-P.

      • eljay on January 29, 2020, 11:21 am

        The “moral beacon” and “light unto the nations” rapist and his partner – the “shining city on a hill”, “beacon of hope” chief of police – have decided once and for all to tell those battered and abused women chained in the basement exactly how to lie down in order to best enjoy the ride.

        “Shared common values”, “no light between”.

    • Maghlawatan on January 29, 2020, 4:23 pm

      Israelis don’t understand how bad the image of Israel is in the West. A lot of people believed in the peace process. Many were sickened by the 2014 war in Gaza. When neoliberalism collapses so will the right wing parties Israel depends on to continue its legal impunity. BDS scares Israel. It doesn’t have the balls to take on the settlers.
      Israel may look strong now but the dynamics are not in its favour.

      • echinococcus on January 29, 2020, 6:08 pm


        The usual nonsense:

        ” A lot of people believed in the peace process. Many were sickened by the 2014 war in Gaza. When neoliberalism collapses so will the right wing parties Israel depends on to continue its legal impunity. ”

        And upon the collapse of the sworn enemies of the right wing parties, ie the “non-right-wing” neoliberal/neocon/neocolonialist parties “Israel depends on to continue its legal”, and first and foremost military, impunity, it will be the turn of the non-right-wing again.

        Cut the nonsense. This has nothing to do with palo- or neoliberalism, or any other fashionable buzzword. It’s a question of landgrab by colonial force, period.

      • RoHa on January 29, 2020, 9:55 pm

        ” When neoliberalism collapses so will the right wing parties…”

        And when will that happen? There is no real opposition to the right wing.

        There seems to be no left wing anywhere in the West. The pseudo-left “progressives” (a) spend most of their time peddling nonsense that sensible people reject, and (b) denounce anything half-way sensible that ordinary people want.

        And, of course, the people in power are inclined to encourage the pseudo-left in their folly.

  17. CigarGod on January 29, 2020, 10:43 am

    Trying to have a meaningful discussion with an American on this topic is as valuable as discussing anything with a 1 year old, or the family dog.
    Having a discussion with an Israeli…or an American politician…is like a discussion with a zombie.

  18. Ossinev on January 29, 2020, 1:59 pm
  19. echinococcus on January 29, 2020, 7:21 pm

    Well, we knew already what the “deal” would be, didn’t we? What was anyone expecting?

    Nothing different than all the periodical Zionist steps forward, Camp David, Camp Goliath, Camp camp, this plan, that plan, Oslo, Taba, what will you…

    No different this time: just one more kick down the road to the can, just buying time until the successful termination of the genocide of Palestinians.

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