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Neither Occupied nor Independent?!
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
May 4, 2018

Trump administration deals with Palestinian rights and the goals that the Palestinian people is striving to achieve, as a "virtual" issue that the Palestinians have worked on producing and "fabricating" it according to a narrative of their own, that is unrelated to the practical reality.

And maybe from this point of view, the administration looked to the city of Jerusalem and underestimated the demand to that the Palestinians to build their own "Jerusalem" away from the real one, that has been recognized by Trump, as the capital of Israel and which he has decided to transfer his state's embassy to it.

In contrast, Trump's administration views the settlement expansion as a response to an urgent Israeli need imposed by the "overcrowding" in settlements and settlement neighborhoods in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It was clear that Trump did not see this as a blatant attack on the Palestinian territories, because he at the first place does not consider it as occupied.

Therefore, when the US Department of State issued its annual report without mentioning the status (occupied territories), it was only an embodiment of the vision that the Trump administration has been working on since its arrival.

Many international initiatives, including the US "road map", stipulated that "the occupation that began in 1967 must be ended". Before that, the "Oslo Accords" spoke about the mechanism for handing over Palestinian territories to the authority created by the agreement; and about a transitional period leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state. So, when Israeli governments accepted to deal with Oslo Accords and entered into marathonic negotiations with the Palestinian negotiator, they were relive by two important factors that would not lead them to the stage in which they withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967.

The two factors are: the foundations of the Accords that ignored the international legitimacy resolutions, the second is Washington's exclusiveness on sponsoring the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, with the US commitment not to exert any serious pressure on Tel Aviv to do what it does not want.

The availability of both factors has helped the occupation to pursue its expansionist policies without being accounted. It also has helped it to evade from the entitlements of the post-transitional period, and thus turning the negotiating table in the face of all.

However, the US official discourse has kept its talk about the illegality of the settlements and the occupied Palestinian territories. Former US President Barack Obama also agreed the right of the Palestinians to an independent state, and criticized the settlement expansion and the demolition of Palestinian homes, at the time the “International Quartet” (17/3/2010) issued a strong statement, close to Obama's speech in the summer of 2009 in Cairo, in which it called for settlement freezing, stopping the demolition of Palestinian homes, and to negotiations resulting to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

It is true that all these calls did not have binding mechanisms of implementation, but they reflected a political atmosphere at the international and regional levels that adopts a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, based on the recognition firstly that the Palestinian territories are occupied and that the aim of any negotiations, is the establishment of a Palestinian state, even if we completely disagree with the absence of the determinants of the establishment of this state, to embody the Palestinian national rights and guarantee the complete independence and the sovereignty of the Palestinian State over all its territories occupied by the aggression of 1967, including East Jerusalem as the capital of that State.

The recent US State Department's report meets with the previous official American vision on the reality in the occupied Palestinian territories, and it introduces an updated approach in which the supposed solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is seen as a sub and marginal title, under the banner of the regional solution that begins and ends with prioritizing the American and Israeli interests, at the expense of the interests of the countries and peoples of the region.

The emptiness of US State Department's report from the expression "occupied territories", indicates to a realistic description of the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the occupied Syrian Golan, that Trump's administration is pushing the "deal of the century" in the form of progressive steps, that have begun on the Palestinian side, by declaring the pro-settlement position and before that attacking Obama's administration that passed the resolution of the Security Council, which condemned it; after that the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupying state and then the decision to transfer the US embassy to it, reaching to the financial embargo on UNRWA.

Netanyahu's plan of "economic peace" is included in this solution. It stems mainly from dealing with Palestinian national issues, as problems faced by the Palestinian population, and that the solution of these problems comes from an economic (non-developmental) plan that is set in a series of investment projects that will benefit the investors at the first place.

In his plan, Netanyahu maintains all the advantages, that Israel has obtained in the Oslo Accords, especially the Paris Economic Protocol and the security agreements with the PA, and in the fore front is security coordination and developing it to a one-sided cooperation, so that the Palestinian security services monitor Palestinians' activities and suppress any "suspicious activity" related to the resistance against occupation.

The regional solution focuses mainly on legalizing the normalization between Arab states and Israel without linking it to the achievement of a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that responds to Palestinian national rights. Trump's administration, thus, agreed with the Israeli vision, through an American-Israeli alliance in the face of the countries and peoples of the region.

But the removal of the status of "occupied" from the Palestinian territories, is an indication that contradicts with the establishment of a Palestinian state and the Palestinian national rights as a whole, which the Palestinian official leadership should take into account and abandon the policy of hesitation and waiting, especially that Trump's administration hasn't left any chance to it.

The only effective role that the Palestinian situation can collectively play, is to unify the national potential in the face of the "deal of the century", which firstly assumes the implementation of the decisions of the Palestinian Central Council in its previous two sessions. First of which is, the internationalization of the Palestinian cause through: the request for active membership for the State of Palestine, the request for international protection for the Palestinian people , calling for an international conference under the sponsorship of the United Nations according to its relevant resolutions, so as to guarantee to the Palestinian people its full national rights to return, self-determination, independence and sovereignty; and referring the Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court including crimes committed against the participants in the return marches in the Gaza Strip.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is the Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rasha Abo Allan
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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