by Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to âgo to the White House and continue what [he] started with [US President] Donald Trump.â With this and other confusing statements, AbbasÂ tried to articulateÂ the new Palestinian political agenda to foreign reporters in Ramallah last month.
According to Abbas, the PA is ready to return to negotiations with Israel if two conditions are met: Washington is to reverse its stance on East Jerusalem, thus recognising it as an occupied Palestinian city; and there is a renewed commitment to the so-called two-state solution. âI will not accept a one-state solution because one state will be an apartheid state,â Abbas insisted.
Aside from the Palestinian leaderâs insubstantial logic, the official Palestinian discourse emanating from Ramallah these days seems oblivious to the massively changing political reality in Washington over the past two years or so. Remarks by Abbas, hisÂ recently-appointedÂ Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh or other PA officials are apparently based on the logic of a bygone era, one in which the US claimed, however falsely, to be an honest broker for peace; a period that lasted for nearly 25 years and during which PA officials benefited from the massive âpeace processâ racket, bankrolled by the US and other countries.
However, the jig is up. The PA has ceased to serve any useful purpose for the Israelis and their American benefactors, apart from the continued and shameful âsecurity coordinationâ aimed largely at suppressing any Palestinian resistance to Israelâs brutal occupation.
Everyone seems to acknowledge this seismic change, except the PA. While failing to understand the nature of the new challenge and redeem its past mistakes, the PA insists on remaining a major stumbling block to a new Palestinian strategy, one that should counter relentless US-Israeli efforts aimed at circumventing international law and, as a result, dismissing all Palestinian rights entirely.
Listening to PA officials speak makes one wonder if they are truly aware that the language coming out of Washington has shifted unmistakably, not only in its degree of bias towards Israel, but also in its complete adoption of the Israeli narrative in terms of nuances, religious fervour and political priorities. US officials now speak as one with members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuâs right-wing extremist coalition. The following examples illustrate the new US rhetoric that requires a complete Palestinian departure from their tired and clichĂ©d language of the past.
On 6 December, 2017, Donald Trump said in a White HouseÂ statement: âJerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs. But today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israelâs capital. This is nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do.â
Trumpâs infatuation with Israel is paralleled by complete disrespect and disregard for Palestinians. On 2 January 2018, heÂ tweeted: âWe pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They donât even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?â
US Vice President Mike Pence concurs. On 15 May last year, PenceÂ saidÂ in celebration of Israelâs independence that Trump had done more to bring the US and Israel âcloser together in a year than any president in the past 70 years.â He referred to him as âthe greatest defender the Jewish state has ever had.â According to Pence, âPresident Trump made history now.â
For her part, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley played a major role in trying to marginalise Palestinians on the international stage. On 6 October last year sheÂ insistedÂ that, âThe Palestinians are not a UN Member State or any state at all. The United States will continually point that out in our remarks at UN events led by the Palestinians.â
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, meanwhile, has the perfect blend of Penceâs religious fanaticism and Haleyâs political opportunism. In an interview with theÂ New York TimesÂ publishedÂ on 8 June, he said that, âUnder certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.â
Friedmanâs open support for Israeli colonialism was matched byÂ commentsÂ made by US Middle East âpeaceâ envoy Jason Greenblatt two weeks later: âWe might get there [to a peace deal] if people stop pretending settlements, or what I prefer to call âneighbourhoods and citiesâ, are the reason for the lack of peace.â He brushed aside the fact that all of Israelâs colonial-settlements are illegal under international law since they have been built on Palestinian land under Israeli military occupation since 1967.
When the PA dared to protest against such political bullying, Trumpâs son-in-law and top adviser Jared KushnerÂ lashed outÂ on 3 July at the âhysterical and erraticâ Palestinian leadership. âThe door is always open for the Palestinian leadershipâŠ If they stop saying crazy things,â he added.
According to the new American political lexicon, Palestinians have absolutely no rights; international law has no relevance; and supposedly democratic Israel is a model state incapable of erring. In Washingtonâs la-la land, there can be no room or tolerance for discussions about military occupation, illegal settlements, genocidal wars, sieges and apartheid if they involve even the slightest criticism of Israel.
Considering Americaâs complete and unconditional adoption of the Israeli agenda, Abbas should stop talking about negotiations and conditions. Instead, he should revitalise and unite the Palestinian front to counter the US-Israeli menace and its political lackeys across the Middle East.
~ Middle East Monitor/Days of Palestine
Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books the last of which is âMy Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gazaâs Untold Story.â