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The Closed Door of Settlement
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
October 4, 2017

Although the Trump administration lacks a clear plan regarding the settlement, but it always presses to freeze the Palestinian negotiator in its place.

If the US President Trump excluded in his speech the issue of the settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides because his administration lacks a clear plan regarding it, but Benjamin Netanyahu did so, because he considers it as unnecessary.

With these deferent opinions, the Israeli prime minister is aware that the consequences of US position towards the issue will not affect the Israeli vision, especially, that Netanyahu wanted by praising Trump's speech, to emphasize, to the international community, as well as, to his rivals and enemies in Israel, that the United States has re-corrected its "position" regarding the issues, which he has previously disagreed with, and at the forefront is the Iranian nuclear file and the international agreement with Tehran.

Thus, his conflicts with the Obama administration on freezing the settlement were necessary, and the strategic relations between Washington and Tel Aviv were not affected, as his opponents were warning, in both the opposition and the government.

When the Obama administration ended its second term by passing the Security Council resolution that condemned the settlements, Netanyahu considered that his political future was as a hostage to the outcome of new conflicts with Washington, in case that Hillary Clinton; the Democratic Party candidate won, and that his fear of Washington's attempts to form his governmental coalition by entering his old opponents, will be as a reality him in case of that victory was achieved.

So, he wished the victory of Donald Trump, who attacked the Security Council resolution regarding the settlement and he promised during his presidential nomination to "correct" it. Then, his bet turned to reality, with Clinton's loss and the start of Trump's presidency, who launched a new package of statements promising to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and he ended them with the death of "two-state solution", and his ignorance to contact with the Palestinian official leadership, until his first meeting with the Israeli prime minister.

Netanyahu found in the US talk about the "regional peace" through the so-called the "century deal", a valuable opportunity to practically overcome the formula of the bilateral solution, between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and a viable framework for proposing his “economic peace” plan, by improving the living conditions of Palestinians at the expense of donor countries, without political entitlements that affect the Israeli vision, by perpetuating the occupation and the prosperity of the settlements.

Netanyahu and his government understand that although the Trump administration lacks a clear plan for the settlement, but it is interested with (Tel Aviv also) in freezing the Palestinian negotiator in its place, and not letting it to get out of the compromise equation , by using pressure and threats. In order to achieve this, Ramallah witnessed intensive and unprecedented visits to Trump's consultants, who begun the meetings with the PA leadership and ended them with a series of demands, conditions, warnings and a few promises.

In short, the Israeli governments have thoroughly the American position toward the settlement in terms of their understanding of the wide conformity between the two sides about the priority of the security and expansionist considerations of occupation. This is what has been confirmed, by the American administrations that have accompanied the settlement process since its declaration.

On the other hand, the Palestinian official discourse has a high ability to characterize the catastrophes, inflicted by the occupation on the Palestinian people through a precise "description", that has been frequently repeated, on the platform of the UN General Assembly, and it greatly expanded in talking about denial of Israel from its "obligations as provided for in the signed conventions" and it threatened several times to take decisions and measures that could upset the negotiations and disengage from the PA obligations, imposed by the Oslo Accords.

But the problem of the PA is that it does not want to provide a realistic reading for the reality of the American position regarding the settlement and its consequences. Because it knows that presenting such a reading, will lead to one conclusion; which is closing the door of settlement, and desisting from betting on a "positive" American role towards this process. This means turning towards the national liberation program, with all its entitlements, which does not seem that the PA will promote them. For this reason, the Palestinian official discourse, at the United Nations, remains successful in expressing and failing in the implementation.

Washington and Tel Aviv are aware of this fact, so they considered the mentioned speech as merely a ''complaint''. Israel also has no reason to reconsider its policies towards the Palestinians and their national cause, and Trump's administration only sends envoys to Ramallah, to calm the PA and remind it to wait until this administration finds what it says clearly about the settlement.

Trump's speech at the United Nations, accurately reflected the priorities of his administration, and it did not mention the Palestinian cause with one word, while Netanyahu in his speech was keen on his government's seek for "peace with all the Arabs, including the Palestinians." In other words, whenever the formal normalization progresses with Arab countries, it can be possible to improve the Palestinians' economic situation only.

Thus, the US and Israeli discourses closed the door of settlement, which there was a former American intention to make it " unclosed '' at least.

In 2015, the Palestinian Central Council reached decisive decisions towards many pending Palestinian issues; such as: stopping the security coordination with the occupation, the economic boycott, rejecting the political process regarding the settlement, if it is not based on the resolutions of international legitimacy, launching the popular resistance and protecting it, and ending the division in connection with the decisions of the comprehensive national dialogues.

All of these decisions have been disrupted, by the Palestinian official leadership, which dealt with them, as messages, addressed to Washington and others, in order to call for more "appropriate" negotiating proposal. Prior to that, the Palestinian achievements in the UN have been frozen, especially the decision of recognizing Palestine as a state under occupation, on the border of 4th of June, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the Palestine's membership in the international institutions, especially International Criminal Court inactive . In addition to that, the official Palestinian leadership has refrained from submitting complaints against the crimes of occupation under the influence of American pressure and the Israeli threat.

As the waiting policy of the Palestinian official leadership continues, the Israeli expansionism will continue to advance, while the issue of the Palestinian people and its rights will remain under the fire of elimination and dissipation.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is an Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Rawda Abu Zarqa
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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