It might be too early to declare the death of the so-called Palestinian “peace process” but after Donald Trump’s visit it is sicker than ever.
Too shameless to hide the truth, he gave Israel a green light to expand deeper into the Palestinian West Bank.
In February he stood alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House and said he wasn’t fussed between a “one state” or a “two state” solution and was happy with whichever “both parties like”.
Coming out of Trump’s mouth, “one state” can only mean total colonisation of Palestine, as part of the “Greater Israel” project. Trump was publicly stating that his administration would not insist on a future Palestinian state.
The peace process began in 1993, allegedly to negotiate a separate state for Palestine. The Palestinian leadership was co-opted into the process, but in reality it is all process and no peace. The years of talks have provided cover for Israel expanding its settlements deeper and deeper into the occupied West Bank. Since talks began, the number of illegal settlers has gone from around 100,000 to over 400,000 (the figure is 750,000 including East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel 50 years ago).
The peace process has also done nothing to stop Israel blockading the Gaza Strip or periodically launching murderous bombing raids on the Palestinians.
Journalists were quick to label Trump’s comment as a break with decades of US policy.
There is no doubt Trump is a particularly rabid friend of Israel. He provocatively promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. And his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a fierce supporter of, and fundraiser for, settlement building.
And yet Trump also wants to be seen as the ultimate “deal maker”, boasting that he alone can reach a settlement.
So, while ramping up the tough talk, he offered a few hollow words when he met Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in Washington, pledging to “get this done”.
He also visited Bethlehem in the West Bank, and tentatively suggested to Netanyahu that he, “pull back on settlements for a bit”.
Trump’s position is in fact a version of US policy since 1993. Israel is the number one US ally in the Middle East—a watchdog and imperialist partner that receives more US aid than any other country.
First and foremost, the US wants to shore up this alliance. But without the fig leaf of peace negotiations, Israel’s expansion brings international condemnation and further regional destabilisation through increased resistance from Palestinian and the wider Arab populations.
The peace process was begun specifically to politically stifle repeats of the First Intifada (uprising) in 1987, when Palestinians heroically fought Israel’s occupation.
Yet the idea of a two state solution becomes more fantastical by the day. Netanyahu went to Israel’s 2015 election stating there would be no Palestinian state on his watch. His “prerequisites” are that Palestine recognises Israel as a Jewish state, and that, “Israel retain overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River”.
This amounts to a demand to give up the right to a sovereign state altogether.
But a two state solution has never been just. It would keep Palestinians in fragmented enclaves, yet ensure Israel remained intact as a specifically “Jewish state”, ethnically defined, with discrimination and population control at its heart. A single, democratic, secular state encompassing all of historic Palestine, with one vote per person, is the only just solution.
The mood for fresh resistance against Israel is growing, as is Palestinian frustration with the corrupt leadership of Palestinian Authority. The PA plays the role of policing Palestinian resistance for Israel. It is deep in collaboration with Israel, is economically dependent on it and has nothing to show for selling its soul. Far from ending the occupation in over 20 years, it has let it run rampant right under its nose. Now, 64 per cent want Mahmoud Abbas gone.
At the same time, Hamas—the elected but unrecognised leadership of Palestinians in Gaza—is edging rightwards. For the first time, they have dropped their opposition to recognition of the Israeli state.
The recent hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails lasted for 40 days, accompanied by widespread protests. Trump’s visit was met with a general strike in the West Bank.
Trump’s visit might have encouraged Netanyahu but global opinion is turning against Israel.
In practice, Israel-Palestine is already a single state—the imperialist apartheid state of Israel. A new struggle is needed to expose the reality. Real justice for the Palestinians will mean tearing down the apartheid wall and the checkpoints, abolishing martial law, and winning right of return for refugees.
By Erima Dall