American President Donald Trump has not followed in the footsteps of other American leaders before him by pretending to fail in convincing Israeli leaders that they will need to freeze Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for “peace.”
Trump’s declaration of the so-called “Deal of the Century” clearly aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause once and for all. First, the Americans administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; then the embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Another concrete step was taken by recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel. And it goes without saying that the internationally-sanctioned right of return of the Palestinian refugees was declared null.
Now the Netanyahu government is poised to annex 30% of the what is left of the 1967 occupied West Bank. That will now put an end to the national “dream “of the Palestinian bourgeoisie and comprador class; i.e. establishing an independent homeland on 22% of historic Palestine.
So, what is left of the Palestinian cause?
The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership was given no chance. On other occasions, it was given some breathing space to look as though it was playing the game and putting pressure on Israel and the US. No more! Israel is demanding that all parties acknowledge it as a “Jewish state” and “only a Jewish state” – preconditions that could justify the further “transfer” of around 1,900,000 Palestinians over to the West Bank who are now living as third-class citizens in Israel. This is a move favored by Israel’s newly formed right-wing coalition.
Throughout the whole Oslo period, Edward Said wrote one piece after another exposing the Oslo facade which ultimately has led to where we are right now. He warned about the settlements, water rights, the Gaza Ghetto, refugees, and more and more Palestinian land being placed in Israeli hands. These are all the very issues that the proposed Trump “deal” avoids.
In fact, the Trump deal is not a “break” from Oslo, as some claim, but rather a continuation of the same logic. Both deals simply ignore the Palestinian people. They, as a people, never come into the equation at all. In fact, more settlements were built during Oslo than at any other period in the occupation. While there were hand shakes on the White House lawn, Palestinian houses were being demolished and checkpoints were barring more Palestinians from getting to their work in the olive and orange groves. The much talked about “land for peace” equation simply rested on ignoring the suffering of the Palestinian people while expanding settlements, building Jewish-only roads, and carrying out more closures, curfews, arrests, and blockading Gaza. The lessons of the Oslo years are clear. And now, in exchange for a very tiny piece of land, Netanyahu has demanded “genuine normalization steps” from all neighboring Arab states, a demand heeded by all Gulf countries, with the exception of Kuwait.
Concluding a piece in the London Review of Books, Said wrote “when will the Israelis realize – as some already have – that a sustained racist brutality against Arabs, in the Middle East where Israel is surrounded by 300 million Arabs and 1.2 billion Muslims, will bring the Jewish state neither normalcy nor security?”
The world was sold a gigantic fraud with Oslo the first time around, with the complacency of some Arab and Palestinian leaders. But this time, we have BDS and a rising consciousness about alternative solutions, namely the one state solution — a state for all of its citizens on the historic land of Palestine where all citizens are treated equally regardless of religion, ethnicity, or sex. This is what is missing from President Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration of ending all agreements with Israel and the US. A real break from Oslo would also include a break from the two-state fiction. This would require 1.) an emphasis on the demand for the implementation of all basic rights of the three components of the Palestinian people in the 1967 occupied areas, in Israel, and in the diaspora; and 2.) a declaration of the de-Zionization of apartheid Israel and its transformation into a real secular democracy for all of its inhabitants after the return of dispossessed and displaced Palestinian refugees. Edward Said would have said: Equality or nothing!