MOSCOW, The recently unveiled USsponsored Middle East plan, which was announced as an initiative to fix the decadeslong conflict between Israel and Palestine is, in fact, nothing more than “thievery” that proves a total disregard of Palestine’s interests by the United States and Israel, and does not have any chance of being accepted by the Palestinian authorities, experts told Sputnik.
The plan was revealed by US President Donald Trump in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The initiative envisions Israel’s annexation of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan River Valley and retaining Jerusalem as its undivided capital. The Palestinians would receive twice as much land as they control today, a $50 billion economic assistance program and several neighborhoods in East Jerusalem as a capital.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected Trump’s peace plan, saying the Palestinians would only negotiate with the Middle East Quartet and not under the terms of the proposed peace plan.
ISRAEL’S VICTORY INSTEAD OF PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT
Muhammad Sahimi, a professor at the University of Southern California, told Sputnik that the US plan envisages that Palestinians will in reality receive an “apartheid state,” while Israel will enjoy numerous benefits including Palestinian lands.
“It is thievery by the US and Israel, not a peace plan. Israel gets everything it wants, including Palestinian lands, and the Palestinian people will get nothing but an apartheid state, whereby they will be restricted to certain areas, just like in apartheid South Africa. This will eventually lead to war, not peace,” the expert said, warning that Israel would try to “steal” more of the Palestinian lands and their natural resources, including water.
Trump’s initiative would not significantly change the status quo of the Jewish settlements and Jordan Valley that were already kept by Israel, and would only consolidate Israel’s victory in the conflict, rather than promote a peaceful resolution to the issue, Anatol Lieven, a professor from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, told Sputnik.
“In one sense it [the plan] has already been implemented. The Israelis have established Jewish settlements over large parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley and intend to keep them, barring a complete change of both US and European attitudes. There is no possible way of forcing them to change. This is not a ‘peace settlement,’ however. It is what the more candid Israelis openly call it the Israeli victory,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Ely Karmon, the senior research scholar at the International Institute for CounterTerrorism, believes that the peace plan is unlikely to work, not only because it ignores Palestine’s interests but also due to the way it was officially presented by the US side.
“In my opinion, the plan is not feasible, not only because it gives advantage to the Israeli needs, but also because of the way it was presented: without the participation and coordination of the Palestinian side, and in the eyes of many Israelis as a political maneuver to help [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu before the elections,” the expert explained.
‘DEAD ON ARRIVAL’
Palestine will never formally recognize the plan but instead will have to adjust to new circumstances, as Israel has no intentions of changing its policy towards Palestine, Lieven continues.
“There is no chance whatsoever of any Palestinian leadership formally accepting a settlement along these lines. Informally, of course, they have to live with it because they have no choice. International appeals, peaceful protests, mass protests, intifadas, missile attacks and terrorism have all failed to change Israeli policies,” he noted.
Amalendu Misra, a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, told Sputnik that the US deal was “dead on arrival,” as the conditions desirable for Palestinians could never be reached.
“The Palestinian side can only accept the plan if the Jewish settlements are removed from the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as Jerusalem is transferred to them in its entirety. Since such an arrangement is never going to be accepted by the Israelis, the Trumpsponsored peace plan was already dead on arrival,” Misra said.
According to Karmon, Palestine’s harsh reaction to the deal could become the reason for violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, consolidating Fatah and Hamas.
“For the moment, the Palestinian Authority will not accept it at any cost. Moreover, it can provoke violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and tactically unify Fatah and Hamas, which are in deep conflict since 2007, when Hamas took power in Gaza by force,” the expert said.
Bertrand Badie, a professor at Sciences Po Paris, in turn, says that Palestine’s refusal to accept the deal was “probably anticipated by Trump and Netanyahu.”
MIDDLE EAST QUARTET LOST IMPORTANCE
When asked whether the peaceful resolution proposed by the “deal of the century” was possible under the auspices of the Middle East Quartet, and not solely under that of Washington, Sahimi said that the Quartet did not play a noticeable role in the process anymore, as Trump stepped in the issue with the view to gain support ahead of the presidential election in November.
“The Quartet has lost its meaning. It was supposed to represent the views of the international community. Instead, what we have is a US administration led by a president who wants to please his supporters among the far right, who support Israel, in order to get their support in his reelection campaign. Israel has been able to do what it wants with the full support of the US. Therefore, any future war will also be the responsibility of the two, and only the two,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to Misra, the United States should preserve its primary role as a mediator in the IsraeliPalestinian conflict.
“The United States has always been and shall always be the ‘power mediator’ in the IsraeliPalestinian dispute. Removing the US from any future equation or peace negotiations and replacing it by any other entity is unlikely to address the underlying conditions,” the expert explained.
However, Badie believes that Washington has not been viewed as an effective mediator of the conflict, and Palestine will probably have to seek the help of the United Nations.
“The United States is not considered a real mediator. Even more, this plan will probably push Netanyahu to ‘legalize’ colonies in Cisjordania [the West Bank] and to annex Jordan Valley. So, Palestinians and other partners will not have a choice, but to refer to the United Nations and to the international community,” Badie concluded.
Source: African News Agency