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With Trump the game and the negotiation rules changed
By: Moatasem Hamadeh
February 8, 2017

Jerusalem, the settlement, the two-state solution, the direct bilateral negotiations: are old titles for new concepts

It's not a coincidence that the first call, is to Netanyahu, conducted by Donald Trump, after he was inaugurated as the President of the United States of America.
As the «new» American attitude toward Israel and its issues, and issues of dispute and conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs, are clear-cut.

If the positions of Trump toward some of the international issues have been clouded by uncertainty, his positions toward the elements of the Palestinian cause, seemed clear from the first moment, and it is becoming more apparent by the time.

If Trump's first conversation to the outside, was with Netanyahu, it is remarkable that it took place just hours after the Israeli government's decision to proceed with the construction of 566 new settlement apartments, in a blatant defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and to the international will, which was manifested in the unanimous of the Security Council on the resolution.

The call also took place at a time where there is on the agenda of Netanyahu's government «the application of the Israeli law on Maale Adumim» (i.e. the annexation of the nearby settlement to East Jerusalem to Israel), as well as this call came at a time where the Palestinian minority within Israel is boiling, after the destruction of the houses in the town of Qulunsuwa, and the huts in the valley of Um Al-Hiran in the Negev, and the displacement of its population, and the kidnapping of the body of the martyr Abu Al-Qian.

Jerusalem... The Biggest Mine

If we started with Jerusalem, we stop in front of Trump's «promise» to the Israelis about his intention to transfer his country's embassy to Jerusalem, as «the capital of Israel» in a breach and a violation to the international will, which still considers Jerusalem as occupied and which recognizes only Tel Aviv as Israel's capital.

It is known that the Congress perseveres every time in taking a decision on the transfer of its country's embassy to Jerusalem, and that the US administration has an authority to issue a statement on behalf of the President to disrupt the implementation of the decision for a year. Thus, we are practically before an earlier decision from the Congress about the transfer of the embassy.

The transfer of the US embassy would be a political mine, especially that Jerusalem, as well as being the capital of the State of Palestine (admittedly by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council's relevant resolutions). There is Arab, Muslim and Christian specificity for the city.

Therefore, it is an issue with international, political, religious, cultural, national and ethnic dimensions. The international community considers the manipulation with it, like the positions of Trump, as a very dangerous deed.

The preliminary information tells that Trump is going in his project, and he dispatched engineers to the so-called Western Jerusalem, to study the construction of the US Embassy.

The information also adds that Trump, as a temporary step, will ask the country's new ambassador to Israel, to move to work in the consulate of his country in East Jerusalem. This consulate has been built by the United States in the holy city since 160 years.

In turn, the diplomatic mission remains at its headquarters in the embassy in Tel Aviv, until the completion of the construction of a new embassy in the exact location. This temporary «settlement» is more dangerous than the decision to move the embassy to the Western Jerusalem, because it considers «Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel» with its both parts, the eastern (occupied since 1967) and the western (occupied since 1948).

However, whatever the «settlements» are, they are all under the roof of the denial of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, and the denial that Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and recognition that it is the capital of Israel.

When the American decision passes in this direction, this means that it opens the door for others to follow the example of the United States, especially if the threats to transfer the battle of Jerusalem to the «most important battle» and the transfer of the embassy «opens the gate of hell», will remain in the borders of words, at a time when there is the «security cooperation with Israel», approving the bilateral negotiations as the only way to resolve, the adoption of the United States «sponsorship» for negotiations, the suppression of the uprising and the resistance.

The transfer of Jerusalem requires a practical policy that deters the United States and deters the Netanyahu government, on the Palestinian level firstly and on the Arab and Muslim level secondly and thirdly on the World level.

The Settlement... The Open Battle

After Jerusalem, the settlements file occupies the second site in the American policies. As both Trump, and his ambassador to Israel (David Friedman), consider that Israel has the right to «construct» (the colonial-settlement) in the West Bank, like the right of the United States to build in Washington. It is a «political right» as alleged by both, and this is a literal adoption to the Israeli position on the settlements.

For that, Trump strongly criticized the abstention of the United States for voting against the resolution 2334, which condemned the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, and he accused the Obama administration that it did not provide for Israel what must be submitted throughout the years of his presidency of the United States, which means Trump's intention to exceed the biased US policy to Israel in favor of new biases ,including the settlement; which he is announcing his support to it as «a vital need for Israel».

Perhaps the reaction of the majority of the US House of Representatives , Democratic and Republican, against the Security Council resolution, and the welcoming of Trump toward this reaction, are further evidences of the nature of US policy on the issue of settlements.

Although the US administrations and their diplomats (most recently John Kerry) were considering the settlement as an obstacle to the solution, and a way to write off the «two-state solution» for the benefit of a single state based on the racial discrimination, Trump's administration believes the opposite and encourages the settlement and the annexation of settlements to Israel, which would put the whole scene in front of a new image, different from the previous image.

Under the new US policy, which one of its elements is blessing the settlement and providing the political cover for it, it becomes urgent that the Palestinian situation must formulate a new alternative policy.

Here we must note that the focus is only on the issue of Jerusalem and the American Embassy, and there is no equal focusing on the settlement which will swallow more Palestinian land , which will threaten the whole Area C and that means the displacement of thousands of Palestinians, besieging the Palestinian cities by settlements, cutting the limbs of the Palestinian West Bank , and the imposition of an Israeli American vision regarding the permanent solution, which Netanyahu explained it in his recent meeting with his ministers when he called it the «imperfect state».

The imperfect state is the secret name (nickname) for the self-management, which Netanyahu aspires to transform the permanent solution to: a Palestinian Authority that heads a self-management, under terms and conditions that will be called the «Palestinian state».

The solution through the direct negotiations

Trump assures that the direct bilateral negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli sides.

His position seems a repeat of the previous American positions, which meets with the general position of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But what should be warned about is that the rules of the game with Trump may have changed and the bases of the negotiating process have changed also, so now we are facing a new negotiating process «without preconditions». And it does not contradict with the continuation of settlement or with the blockade of Gaza, nor the killings or arresting, or deactivation of the signed agreements.

Thus the Palestinian demand to stop settlement would be like a precondition. As well as the demand to release the forth group of the prisoners, to complete what was agreed on during the nine months of the negotiations which were sponsored by John Kerry.

In the same context, it seems that the Trump's administration will certainly obstruct all the projects to the UN Security Council to hold an international conference as a substitute for the direct negotiations, here we can blame the Palestinian negotiating side who suspended to move toward the UN Security Council for more than three years betting on the US role, and on the bilateral negotiations with Israel.

However, the Palestinian negotiator should be aware and admit that the rules of the game have been changed. And that the old methods and policies to run the game are no longer useful, and that sticking to the direct bilateral negotiations under the sponsorship of the US is something futile, especially since the negotiations will be proceeded toward the Judaization of Jerusalem, the transfer of the US embassy to it, the continued settlement activities, and the preparing to annex the settlement blocs, which means the redrawing of the scene completely, to impose the permanent solution that serves the interests of the Zionist project, which will eat the largest area of the Palestinian occupied territory, and annexing it to Israel and dumping the West Bank and Jerusalem with settlers, and closing the possibilities before a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state, on the borders of June 4, 1967, with its capital Jerusalem.

The two-state solution by the negotiations

It must be noted, first, that talking about the «two-state solution» is not restricted to the Palestinian state, but it also includes Israel as a state that has not completed its geographical entity yet, and it means the admission of Israel's «right» in the annexation of more Palestinian land and to impose its control over them.

That explains to say «on the 4th of June borders» «with an agreed exchange of the land», and the word «exchange» here, is a word which has a serious meaning, it is the word «annexation». Thus, the «two-state solution» means a pre-recognition of the «right» of Israel in more Palestinian land, that will be added to the land that it has occupied since 1948.

Also it must be noted that the talk about the «a solution by the negotiations», means that the Palestinians won't be able to own their right in declaring their state without an Israeli approval through negotiations. As long as the negotiations did not reach any agreement on the «two-state solution», that means the Palestinian state will not be established, and that the Palestinians will not have the right to announce its establishment from one-side.

As the negotiations are running under the continuous settlements, and lands confiscation, and without a limited binding timetable, as the timetable is considered as one of the pre-conditions, all that means that we are having absurd negotiations which will not lead to a balanced solution, with a Palestinian state alongside to the state of Israel, «as Tel Aviv and Washington claim». Thus we will face a negotiation process based on the Israeli conditions.

If Jerusalem and the settlements and the Area C are annexed to the Israeli state, we will be in front of a solution says that the state will be in Gaza (alone), and that the West Bank will be managed by a self-management, with Israeli security and economic conditions, which will open the door for a normalization of Arab-Islamic countries with Israel, after erasing the national and legitimate rights of the Palestinians.

Then becomes to get an armed «state» that the President Abbas aims to reach it through negotiations, with the abandonment of the right of return for the refugees is impossible, if the Palestinian negotiator continues to be a partner in the game which is managed by Tel Aviv.

Needless to say, that under these conditions, in which the independent Palestinian state becomes questionable, the talk about the right of return for refugees will also be another form of impossibilities.

So it must be emphasized that the arrival of Trump's administration to the White House, beside the Israeli government, (which John Kerry admitted that half of its ministers refuse the «two-state solution», will mean the rejection of the Palestinian State.

In the light of all this, there is a need to a new Palestinian strategies that give up betting on the role of the new US administration, and betting on a solution through the direct bilateral negotiations, toward the return to the unified national program, according to the National Accord Document (2006), and the resolutions of the Central Council during its last session: to halt the Security Coordination with Israel, the economic boycott of Israel, to mobilize all forms of popular resistance and develop then towards national disobedience, to cancel the recognition of Israel.

To internationalize the national cause and rights through heading toward the international institution such as: UN Security Council, UN General Assembly and the ICC and the international Council of Human Right.

Moatasem Hamadeh is a member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Ibrahim Motlaq and Rawan Al-Bash

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