Trump and Netanyahu’s partnership against Palestinian statehood
US President Donald Trump’s jubilation at the Israeli election results which saw Benjamin Netanyahu win a fourth consecutive term as prime minister was described by CNN “like it’s his own”. This is hardly surprising, considering the US administration’s efforts to prioritise support for Israel’s colonisation project at an international level, with disastrous consequences for Palestinians.
Each calculated move by Trump was a precursor to the forthcoming “deal of the century” – the details of which remain scant but, according to officials, will not include a Palestinian state. While the Palestinian Authority and the international community issued perfunctory statements that voiced concern and berated Trump, neither entity mapped out a strategy to halt the political marginalisation of Palestinians.
It was clear that, starting from an international level, the US and Israel embarked upon a series of decisions with continuity in mind. Former US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, was adamant in asserting US support for Israel. This paved the way for Trump to flout internationally-accepted norms regarding the status of Jerusalem and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), while also embarking upon isolating the PA diplomatically. With the US at the helm of these decisions, Netanyahu was free to alter the long-standing – albeit stagnant – diplomacy with regard to the international community, to the point that several countries are now cautiously following the US lead.
Netanyahu’s securing another electoral victory ensures a continuation of the unilateral decisions taken by the US for Israel’s benefit since the last months of 2017. Lest it be forgotten, each time the US announced measures impinging on Palestinian, PA and international opposition was only voiced within the context of the two-state compromise, and how each unilateral decision would jeopardise its already declared obsolete possibilities.
Yet, neither had any alternatives to counter the forthcoming instalment of US-Israeli scheming. Trump’s deal is due to be revealed in June after the end of Ramadan. According to reports, Jared Kushner has declared that Palestinian statehood will not be a requirement for peace.
Meanwhile, the two-state hypothesis includes a premise for Palestinian statehood but repeatedly failed to deliver. This means that the international community has aided Trump and Netanyahu in coming up with a plan that explicitly outlines what the Oslo Accords overtly sought to accomplish.
Looking at the election result without an assessment of how previous agreements thwarted Palestinian independence will continue to bolster the US-Israeli policy at the expense of Palestinians. The prevailing critique following the election results was that Israelis voted for apartheid when they elected Netanyahu. However, rival and former IDF Chief Benny Gantz from the Blue and White Party would have pursued a similar, aggressive policy. Both Netanyahu and Gantz refused to discuss Palestinian statehood in the run-up to the elections. Trump’s deal without a Palestinian state, therefore, would have remained relevant regardless of the electoral outcome.
One important lesson to be learned from the consequences of the Trump-Netanyahu alliance is that the two-state compromise should be declared obsolete in its entirety while also rejecting the so-called deal of the century. Palestinians have long been coerced in a middle ground which is swiftly disappearing; their existence nothing other than a convenience for the international community to bolster its standing at the expense of Palestinian rights. No other premise than “Palestinian statehood” could have given the political actors involved a greater freedom to manipulate the rights of the Palestinian people.
Now, however, intentions are revealing themselves. That includes the charades imposed upon the Palestinian people by the international community, as it entertains and normalises Netanyahu’s politics. There will come a time when world leaders will declare the two-state compromise as redundant, but such a declaration will come at a time that is convenient – when it is possible to flaunt international political treachery without repercussions, and the Trump-Netanyahu era is part of history.