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Trump’s “Deal of the Century” – a racist attempt at bribery that is destined to fail


Deal of the Century bribery

By Lawrence Davidson

The Deal of the Century

President Trump’s peace plan for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or at least the economic side of it, was discussed at a meeting in Bahrain on 25 and 26 June. The plan, euphemistically entitled “Peace to Prosperity” and the “Deal of the Century” is also, inaccurately, likened to a “Marshall Plan for Palestinians”. It is based on the assumption that money, ultimately the better part of $50 billion, can lure the Palestinian people into surrender – that is, the surrender of their right to a state of their own on their stolen ancestral land as well as the right of return for the 7.5 million Palestinians who have been forced into exile. Upon surrender, according to the plan, “an ambitious, achievable… framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region” will be put into place. How this idealised future is to be integrated into the apartheid and Bantustan system of control that constitutes the Israeli government’s “facts on the ground” is left unexplained.

This bit of gilded bait was put together by “senior White House adviser” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; Jason Greenblatt, chief lawyer of the Trump organisation and now US envoy for international negotiations; and David Friedman, the president’s bankruptcy lawyer who is now the US ambassador to Israel. All of these men are at once unqualified for their present positions as well as Zionist supporters of Israeli expansionism. It is not surprising then that the Israeli government has welcomed this effort. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he “would listen to the American plan and hear it fairly and with openness”. On the other hand, the Palestinian West Bank leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who is boycotting the Bahrain meeting, said, “As long as there is no political [solution], we do not deal with any economic [solution].”

There are no doubt some Palestinians who are upset at Abbas’s position: perhaps some business people, often-unpaid bureaucrats, and a portion of the frustrated middle class, who will be dearly tempted by the promise of all that money. These are people who, given over a century of struggle, see no hope of a just political settlement.

Nonetheless, those tempted might consider these facts:

  1. All those billions of dollars are, as yet, hypothetical. The money is not in the bank, so to speak. And, it is not a given that Trump can actually raise the funds. Thus, for all those ready to trade justice for dollars, it might be premature to actually make the leap.
  2. There is a prevailing belief among the Trump cabal putting this plan together that the Palestinians themselves are incapable of running the proposed development programmes. They are assumed to be too corrupt or tainted with “terrorist” backgrounds to be trusted. Thus, the question of who would run this effort (Israelis? American Zionists? anyone other than those dedicated to Palestinian interests?) is left unanswered. Relative to this question, it should be kept in mind that the Israelis have made something of a science of robbing the Palestinians of their resources. They are hardly likely to stop now.
  3. The raising of money for the Trump plan is in competition with a UN effort to raise $1.2 billion for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the agency that supports programmes for Palestinian refugees. This fund-raiser is literally running at the same time as the Bahrain meeting. If the Trump plan gains traction, there might well be pressure to shut down UNRWA altogether.

Is this really an honest proposal to provide the Palestinians with prosperity? The history of “third world” development efforts sponsored by and run under the guidance of “first world” powers, be they Western governments or institutions like the IMF, is largely one of failure.There is no reason to believe that the Trump plan will fare any better. While these problematic economic efforts may eventually fall short, the political conditions almost certain to be attached to the aid will probably require immediate cessation of all anti-Zionist activities, including the relatively successful ongoing boycott of Israel.

The precedent

It might come as a surprise, but this is not the first time that financial bribery to procure Arab cooperation with Zionist ambitions has been tried.

There is a historical precedent for Donald Trump’s attempted “deal of the century” that is detailed in my book,America’s Palestine (cheap used copies of which are available online). Here is how that precedent went:

Back in 1942, the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann told members of the US State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) that Winston Churchill wished to make the Saudi king, Ibn Saud, “the boss of bosses in the Arab World”. The only condition to this offer was that Ibn Saud must “be willing to work out with Weizmann to achieve a sane solution to the Palestine problem”. Weizmann further claimed that US President Franklin Roosevelt was “in accord on this subject”.

The response of the head of the NEA, Wallace Murray, a man who knew the Middle East much better than did Chaim Weizmann, was one of scepticism. Murray noted that British influence over Ibn Saud was small and that he doubted the Saudi king wanted to be the Arab “boss of bosses”. Finally, he expressed doubt that anything the Zionists would consider a “solution” would be something Ibn Saud would consider to be “sane”.

Nonetheless, the Zionists persisted along these lines and soon came up with a plan where, in return for a Jewish Palestine, Ibn Saud would be made the “head of an Arab federation in control of a “development” budget of £20 million”.

At this point Murray became adamant that this would never work. He predicted that Ibn Saud would interpret the offer as a bribe – the offer of a throne in exchange for turning Palestine over to the Zionists. He would interpret the £20 million as a “slush fund”. Consequently, there was every reason to believe that the Saudi ruler would see this whole plan as a personal insult. So, Murray suggested that “the less we have to do with the… proposals of Dr Weizmann the better”.

As it turned out, Roosevelt disagreed with Murray and after a conversation with Weizmann in early June 1943, authorised an approach to Ibn Saud along the lines of the Zionist plan. Why did he ignore Murray in favour of Weizmann? Because Murray’s accurate assessment of Ibn Saud conflicted with Roosevelt’s stereotyped view of Arabs. This is revealed in the minutes of the June meeting with Weizmann wherein the president said that “he believes the Arabs are purchasable”. In other words, following a common Western view, the president saw the Arabs as a backward people who would do just about anything for the right amount of bakshish.

Subsequently, the entire scheme came to naught when, in the autumn of 1943, Ibn Saud rejected it out of hand. He would subsequently tell Roosevelt that the Jews should “be given the choicest lands and homes of the Germans who had oppressed them”. When the president replied that the Jews would not wish to stay in Germany after the war, Ibn Saud noted that the “allied camp” had “50 countries” in it. Surely, they could find enough open space (he even alluded to the underpopulated areas of the American West) to take in Europe’s Jewish refugees. Roosevelt came away from the exchange rather shaken. He finally understood from it that “the Arabs mean business” when it comes to Palestine.

Conclusion

The world has changed a lot since the 1940s. Ibn Saud has been replaced by Saudi Crown Prince Muḥammad bin Salmān. This can be seen as real step down in terms of personal integrity and strategic judgment. Franklin Roosevelt has been replaced with Donald Trump. I will let readers make their own judgments on this change. Actually, the thing that has stayed constant, perhaps because it was always devoid of real empathy for the Palestinians, is the nature of Zionist leadership. Thus, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, has said that the only way the Palestinians can be economically liberated is through their political surrender. But as suggested above, Israel is now a confirmed apartheid state that feels its own “security” necessitates both military and economic control of the Palestinians. Given that reality, Danon’s notion of economic liberation means about as much as Weizmann’s promise of someone else’s (i.e., Britain’s) money. And then there is the replacement of Chaim Weizmann (the Zionist pre-state leader) with Binyamin Netanyahu. The former may have had more persuasive charm than the latter, but certainly their goals were, and continue to be, the same.

It is Zionism’s ambition to possess biblical Palestine that has reduced the Palestinians to destitution. Perfectly predictable and legal Palestinian resistance is the excuse the Israelis use to cover up the segregationist and impoverishing policies that are necessitated by their ideological worldview. And now Trump and his Zionist son-in-law come forward with their plan, fully expecting the Palestinians to trust the Americans and their Israeli allies to make them “developed” and prosperous? I wonder what Ibn Saud would say to that?

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Forget Trump’s “deal of the century”. ‘Israel’ was always on course to annexation


Conquer and Divide

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

When Israeli prime ministers are in trouble, facing difficult elections or a corruption scandal, the temptation has typically been for them to unleash a military operation to bolster their standing. In recent years, Gaza has served as a favourite punching bag.

Binyamin Netanyahu is confronting both difficulties at once: a second round of elections in September that he may struggle to win; and an attorney-general who is widely expected to indict him on corruption charges shortly afterwards.

Netanyahu is in an unusually tight spot, even by the standards of an often chaotic and fractious Israeli political system. After a decade in power, his electoral magic may be deserting him. There are already rumblings of discontent among his allies on the far right.

Given his desperate straits, some observers fear that he may need to pull a new kind of rabbit out of the hat.

In the past two elections, Netanyahu rode to success after issuing dramatic last-minute statements. In 2015 he agitated against the fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian, asserting their democratic rights, warning that they were “coming out in droves to vote”.

Back in April he declared his intention to annex large chunks of the occupied West Bank, in violation of international law, during the next parliament.

Annexation vote winner

Amos Harel, a veteran military analyst with Haaretz newspaper, observed last week that Netanyahu may decide words are no longer enough to win. Action is needed, possibly in the form of an announcement on the eve of September’s ballot that as much as two-thirds of the West Bank is to be annexed.

Washington does not look like it will stand in his way.

Shortly before April’s election, the Trump administration offered Netanyahu a campaign fillip by recognising Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights, territory Israel seized from Syria in 1967.

This month David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel and one of the chief architects of Donald Trump’s long-delayed “deal of the century” peace plan, appeared to offer a similar, early election boost.

In interviews, he claimed Israel was “on the side of God” – unlike, or so it was implied, the Palestinians. He further argued that Israel had the “right to retain” much of the West Bank.

Both statements suggest that the Trump administration will not object to any Israeli moves towards annexation, especially if it ensures their favoured candidate returns to power.

Whatever Friedman suggests, it is not God who has intervened on Israel’s behalf. The hands that have carefully cleared a path over many decades to the West Bank’s annexation are all too human.

Israeli officials have been preparing for this moment for more than half a century, since the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza were seized back in 1967.

“Conquer and Divide”

That point is underscored by an innovative interactive map of the occupied territories. This valuable new resource is a joint project of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and Forensic Architecture, a London-based team that uses new technology to visualise and map political violence and environmental destruction.

Titled “Conquer and Divide“, it reveals in detail how Israel has “torn apart Palestinian space, divided the Palestinian population into dozens of disconnected enclaves and unravelled its social, cultural and economic fabric”.

Annexation was on the cards from the occupation’s very beginnings in 1967, when the so-called centre-left – now presented as a peace-loving alternative to Netanyahu – ran the government.

The map proves beyond doubt that Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank was never accidental, defensive or reluctant. It was coldly calculated and intricately planned, with one goal in mind – and the moment to realise that goal is fast approaching.

Annexation is not a right-wing project that has hijacked the benign intentions of Israel’s founding generation. Annexation was on the cards from the occupation’s very beginnings in 1967, when the so-called centre-left – now presented as a peace-loving alternative to Netanyahu – ran the government.

The map shows how Israeli military planners created a complex web of pretexts to seize Palestinian land: closed military zones today cover a third of the West Bank; firing ranges impact 38 Palestinian communities; nature reserves are located on 6 per cent of the territory; nearly a quarter has been declared Israeli “state” land; some 250 settlements have been established; dozens of permanent checkpoints severely limit movement; and hundreds of kilometres of walls and fences have been completed.

These interlocking land seizures seamlessly carved up the territory, establishing the walls of dozens of tightly contained prisons for Palestinians in their own homeland.

Two NASA satellite images of the region separated by 30 years – from 1987 and 2017 – reveal how Israel’s settlements and transport infrastructure have gradually scarred the West Bank’s landscape, clearing away natural vegetation and replacing it with concrete.

Land grabs as a weapon

The land grabs were not simply about acquisition of territory. They were a weapon, along with increasingly draconian movement restrictions, to force the native Palestinian population to submit, to recognise its defeat, to give up hope.

In the immediate wake of the West Bank’s occupation, defence minister Moshe Dayan, Israel’s hero of the hour and one of the architects of the settlement project, observed that Palestinians should be made “to live like dogs, and whoever wants to can leave – and we shall see where this process leads”.

Although Israel has concentrated Palestinians in 165 disconnected areas across the West Bank, its actions effectively won the international community’s seal of approval in 1995. The Oslo accords cemented Israel’s absolute control over 62 per cent of the West Bank, containing the Palestinians’ key agricultural land and water sources, which was classified as Area C.

Occupations are intended to be temporary – and the Oslo accords promised the same. Gradually, the Palestinians would be allowed to take back more of their territory to build a state. But Israel made sure both the occupation and the land thefts sanctioned by Oslo continued.

The new map reveals more than just the methods Israel used to commandeer the West Bank. Decades of land seizures highlight a trajectory, plotting a course that indicates the project is still not complete.

More land thefts to come

If Netanyahu partially annexes the West Bank – Area C – it will be simply another stage in Israel’s tireless efforts to immiserate the Palestinian population and bully them into leaving. This is a war of attrition – what Israelis have long understood as “creeping annexation”, carried out by stealth to avoid a backlash from the international community.

Ultimately, Israel wants the Palestinians gone entirely, squeezed out into neighbouring Arab states, such as Egypt and Jordan. That next chapter is likely to begin in earnest if Trump ever gets the chance to unveil his “deal of the century”.

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Trump’s “Deal of the Century” To Hand Palestine to Israel Along with Whole Set of New Problems


NOVANEWS

Donald Trump | Israel

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, March 25, 2019. Susan Walsh | AP

Though the Deal of the Century will try to eliminate the Palestinian issue for good, what the architects of the “Deal” in their arrogance fail to see is that this so-called “Deal” is nothing more than an irresponsible, impractical and precarious plan that will fall just as soon as it is raised.

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