Trump is full of surprises and no one in the punditry was expecting anything like his “Deal of the Century”. It promises to solve the Israel/Palestine situation in a way that is fair to both sides and end a political crisis that has gone on for generations with a few pen swipes. Bold moves and showmanship are to be respected in politics, but is this really some new grand answer or a means for Israel-loyal Trump to trick the Palestinians? Well, on the surface it certainly looks like a great step forward if you are on the Israeli side of things.
It is important to note that if one geopolitical “wedge issue” exists, then it is most certainly Israel. The narrative surrounding Israel’s 20th century restoration divides people into two bitter raging camps. For many (Socialists, the Left) the European looking Israelis cutting out space for themselves in a foreign land while pushing the brown people back looks like some sort of microcosm of Western Imperialism. On the other hand, for those in the West who actually like their civilization (Republicans, the Right) they see Israel as a shining Democratic/Western light on a hill surrounded by barbarians. In many ways today’s Israel is like a living satire of the Old West in America – for some it is Manifesting Destiny and taming wild lands but for others it looks more like apartheid/genocide. Although it is unprofessional to mention oneself in a piece of analysis it is important to say that I personally subscribe to neither of these narratives. I can see them, understand them, but I do not believe in them. Meaning, as you will see I think the Deal of the Century is bad for the Palestinians not because they are victims of Jewish pioneers in the Wild Wild Middle-East but simply because accepting the deal means their side loses. This is not a deal but a request for capitulation.
At first glance the “two-state solution” style deal sounds very attractive for the Palestinian side. Being a recognized state, even if very poor and cut up into awkward chunks is still much better than being an “in name only” pseudo state within the official borders of another. If Palestine was more like a state it could control is territory and engage in trade much more easily with nations that are sympathetic to their cause giving them breathing room. The problem is that the Deal of the Century only offers two-state flavour and not the two-state substance that could woo the Palestinians into signing it.
One of the key clauses of the proposition is to disarm the Palestinian Authorities, Hamas and whomever else may be on their side in Israel… and this is where the deal falls apart before it even begins. Disarmament as part of any deal is coded language for capitulation. If your tribe lays down its arms and my tribe does not, guess who is going to be the Helots and who is going to be the Spartans. Strategically speaking if the Palestinians give up their ability to fight they have obviously lost.
Another aspect of this Deal of the Century that works only in Israel’s favour is the clause that the Palestinians must acknowledge Israel as a “Jewish State”. If the deal was to create a true two-state solution with real borders between them this would not be such a problem, but since ultimately the Palestinians would still technically be within Israel’s borders acknowledging that this region is the property of a different religious group would be a huge mistake. If the United States officially acknowledged the “Russianess” of Alaska you could see how that would really not be in America’s interests. It would essentially mean that Russia would by logic have the “right” to this territory and that is why America would and should never ever acknowledge any claim by a foreign power over U.S. territory. As they say in Russian “it was yours, now it’s ours”. If you do not follow this type of policy then you are asking for succession and strife.
This is why Palestine, if it wants to survive cannot sign off on Israel being Jewish. The second they do this it will mean that bureaucratically they have no place in this country and lose any claims to it.
Other aspects of the deal also force the Palestinians into a submissive state like demanding that they have to end “all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors” when the Israelis do not. Furthermore the Palestinians must have an open and free press, which in reality, means that as a desperately poor region they must open their press up to being bought up or overwhelmed by Western Mainstream Media.
Again as an Orthodox Slav I have no horse in this race, the core narratives in support of the Israelis and Palestinians do not speak to me, but objectively taking a look at the terms, if the Palestinians take this “deal” then they have ultimately capitulated. A completely helpless and yet completely “open” Palestine that may have to give up even more territory officially will erode even faster. No break-away movement in any nation on Earth could agree to similar terms and yet still desire independence.
If I were in Trump’s shoes and very deeply tied to support for Israel I would not have offered some sort of deal between the two sides, but instead offered the Israeli Jews the chance to become the 51st state, which in some ways it already is. Although the bureaucratic realization of this idea would be tough to say the least, it would be good PR within the Beltway and beyond even if the idea was completely rejected. This peace attempt which will get shot down for the reasons stated above and will be yet another blow to Trump’s competency like not knowing where Kansas City actually is. More than anything I hate farces and if the U.S. is so tied to Israel why not just take it? If Israel really is the shining light on the hill in the Middle-East or at least the “beachhead” America needs in the region then just absorb it. Strategically this is really the best option for a pro-Israel America. If they really want to defend it then they should just extend the border around it, which would justify the U.S. to take any actions it deems necessary to secure the territory including ones that would be quite “rough” towards the Palestinians.
- For the Palestinians this deal is a form of capitulation, they must say “no”.
- For the Israelis this is yet another step to ending the Palestinian problem, they must say “yes”, and blast the other side for rejecting the offer.
- The United States has such heavy interesting in Israel that they may as well just absorb it, which would ultimately solve all problems for the Israeli Jews that the Beltway claims to want to protect/support.
By Tim Kirby
Source: Strategic Culture