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Trump's Trap
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
June 13, 2017

By dragging into the trap of Trump, the Palestinian Authority is reproducing its political and social crisis, which will cause more disasters and fragmentation for the homeland.

The public relations campaign, organized by Ramallah's media and political circles, failed to cover President Abbas's visit to Washington in camouflaging the US policy on the Palestinian issue and the total preconditions and instructions of the Trump administration to the PA presidency, in the context of completing the "rehabilitation" of it to be an element in the American equation for the conflict in the region, and to be able to have the "conditions" of the partnership in the settlement, as presented by Netanyahu, and adopted by Washington, as they are US terms and not just Israeli conditions.

The reception at the White House's threshold, the joint press conference, and the call to the dining table were all just fake acts to cover the facts that seep into the political circles day by day, which explain to the observer the reasons for some of what are going on in public, as an application of what has been agreed upon in secret.

The most dangerous is that the Palestinian Authority is aware of the game's realities and secrets, but it is a partner in the management of this game, and it is in the process of slipping in its mazes step by step, after it has lost the ability to reject the American conditions under economic, financial and political conditions and interests, that are forming a restriction on the freedom and movement of PA.

Starting from the nine conditions that were conveyed by US envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to the security "commandments", that were told to Majed Faraj, the head of the Palestinian intelligence service on his visit to Washington, to the series of messages that were conveyed by the head of the US intelligence agency directly to President Abbas, all of them are about the security measures that should be done by the Palestinian Authority in the framework of its cooperation with the occupation authorities.

One of the elements of this cooperation, is “stopping incitement” in all its forms, including the reconstruction of educational programs in schools to include the Palestinian narrative of the national cause and the nature of the Zionist project. Another element is “stopping the support of terrorism”, including the suspension of salaries of prisoners and families of martyrs, and halting transferring money to Gaza, (which is being implemented in successive steps), and stopping the heading towards international forums, including the cessation of campaigns of boycotting Israel, and campaigns to delegitimize the occupation and stopping the movements in UNESCO and the World Council for Human Rights and others.

The most important about this, is accepting the expansion of existing settlements as a permanent right for Israel (assuming that the settlements will be included in the exchange of land), including "legalizing" about 200 settlement outposts that form a geographic depth to the existing settlements, which their development will provide thousands of settlement apartments, and bring thousands of settlers, to Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, which will sink the occupied areas with settlers more and more, and make matters even more complicated.

Despite the attempts to obfuscate the reality of the new American strategy, the fact is that Trump's project is the prelude to direct bilateral negotiations between the two sides, in which Israel is not obliged to even one precondition, meanwhile the Palestinian Authority must commit to about ten preconditions, to be accepted as a "partner" in the negotiations.

These conditions do not have limits, as they hide additional conditions behind them, including: the recognition of Israel as a "national state for the Jewish people", and the recognition of Israel's "security interests" in the Jordan Valley and other actions that are being increased more and more.

Does this mean that we are facing a new negotiating formula? It is new in the sense that it differs from its predecessors in terms and mechanisms , in the other hand, it is outdated in the sense that it is only an attempt to play on time and to conduct futile negotiations, and to make an image that there is a negotiating political process between the two parties, and that negotiations are the right way to resolve the crisis and end the conflict, and that Israel is not an occupying state, but it is a partner in a process of negotiation aims at establishing peace in the region, which would take away from Israel its aggressive nature (real) and introduce it in fake nature, which would cover its aggressive actions against the Palestinians in the territories of the 48 and in the 67 and Diaspora regions.

Does the PA realize that this negotiating process that is being prepared for, in Washington will be as futile as it was in the era of previous US administrations? No doubt about it. The Palestinian Authority is even more aware.

It is aware that the margin of maneuvering for it under American conditions, is much narrower than it was in the time of the Obama administration, and it knows that Netanyahu's maneuver margin is more extensive. As it is entering the negotiations with preconditions imposed on it, while Netanyahu is entering without preconditions imposed on him.

It is entering them without knowing the ultimate goal of the negotiating process, after Trump said that what is agreed upon by the two parties is the solution to the issue. And without a time limit for the negotiating process. Thus it may extend to additional 8 years with Trump, as it extended to 8 years with G.W.Bush, 8 years with Clinton, and 8 years with Obama, without pre-agreed mechanisms.

The mechanisms also are mutually agreed upon, and without reference, which is also is mutually agreed upon. Thus, each and every one of the points on the agenda of these negotiations will be transformed into a negotiating issue in itself.

More seriously, the PA is entering negotiations and it is accused by President Trump of being a weak authority, headed by a weak man, Mahmoud Abbas. And that it has not taken the necessary action to combat terrorism and stop incitement. So, the PA is trying to prove to the US administration the opposite, and that it has an iron fist in the face of terrorism. This terrorism in the US and Israeli dictionary, in the occupied territories, is all forms of Palestinian resistance against occupation and settlement.

* Paying prisoners salaries supports terrorism. Therefore, the salaries of the released prisoners in the Gaza Strip have been suspended.

* Paying salaries to employees in the Gaza Strip , supports terrorism. Therefore they have been reconsidered. The same applies to Gaza's budget, also the same applies to the situation of the prisoner's strike in the occupation prisons, which led to conflicts within the Fatah Central Committee.

* The peaceful demonstration near the Israeli checkpoints supports terrorism, so the PA security forces are suppressing it by force. Therefore, we are facing a dangerous scene: a Palestinian Authority armed with all the elements of force in the face of the popular movement in its various sectors, while at the same time it does not hesitate to submit concession after concession in favor of the American and Israeli sides. The PA has put itself in front of two options: either rejecting the American policy and returning to the national program, which means sacrificing its factional and class interests, in favor of the national cause and rights. Or adhering to these interests, even if this leads to succumb to the pressures, dictations and conditions of USA and Israel.

As it goes along with American conditions, the Palestinian Authority is re-producing its political crisis in a more complex way, which will be reflected in more losses and disasters on the national situation, which will deepen the division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and weaken the PLO's representative position , in the eyes of additional segments of the Palestinian popular situation, that will weaken also the Palestinian cause, in the Arab and popular public accounts more and more, and will sacrifice many of the diplomatic gains made by the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, the International Criminal Court, the Court of Terrorism, UNESCO, the International Council for Human Rights and others. In addition to that, it will grant the occupation a certificate of innocence for all its war crimes and crimes against humanity and push the national class further towards fragmentation.

Our alternative is to return to the strategy that was agreed upon in the National Reconciliation Document (2006), in the Central Council (5/3/2015) and the Executive Committee. The strategy of the struggle in the field (the popular resistance on the path to a complete national disobedience) and in the international forums through the internationalization of the Palestinian national issue and rights.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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