Trump’s deal further complicates a complex situation
US President Donald Trump last week finally disclosed his “deal of the century” on the Palestinian issue, but both the content and the way it was presented were inadequate. The deal was presented in the absence of anyone who would represent the Palestinian people. The content was also devoid of substance for the Palestinians. What was given to Israel was a bird in a cage, whereas Palestinians were promised a bird in the bush.
Trump did not deviate from his usual practice of announcing everything important with a Twitter message. This time, he complemented the procedure by adding an explanation in Hebrew. The deal was referred to as a two-state solution, but in reality Palestine is reduced to a subsidiary component of the state of Israel.
Despite the fact that nothing has yet been finalized, Israeli television characterized the deal as “the most generous proposal ever presented to Israel.” But the more it is generous to Israel, the bigger the resentment of the Palestinians. Comments published in the Israeli media say the deal would lead to the annexation of most of the West Bank. If this happens, the Palestinian animosity cannot be expected to subside. On the contrary, the West Bank may turn into another powder keg like Gaza.
So far, no country has extended full support to Trump’s deal. All countries are watching to see what the others will do. If the reticence of the international community remains as it is, the so-called deal of the century may turn out to be stillborn.
The creation of the state of Israel has caused acrimony since day one in 1947. The international community was as divided then as it is now. But the powerful support of the US ensured Israel survived in the first place and was able to permanently expand its territories at the expense of Palestine and Syria.
There are several UN Security Council resolutions confirming the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine, but Israel continues to expand its territories in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley and Golan Heights. Trump has been the boldest president in denying the Palestinians’ legitimate rights as recognized by international law. His close evangelical associates may have helped him adopt these misguided policies.
If the reticence of the international community remains as it is, the so-called deal of the century may turn out to be stillborn
Upon Trump’s announcement of the deal, Turkey again became one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinians. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is using a passionate narrative in favor of the Palestinians in order to boost its popularity, especially with the conservative electorate. It is unclear whether such statements will have any practical effects on the solution of the conflict.
We cannot presume that the US and Israel are taking these steps for the sake of using them as bargaining chips in the future. Once Israel settles down in a particular place, it will not be easy to uproot it.
In 1947, UN General Assembly resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine was rejected by the Arab world. It may not have been the ideal solution for the Palestinians, but it was going to seal the borders, and several hardships that occurred later could have been avoided. Turkey had also opposed resolution 181 but, once it was adopted despite its opposition, it became the first country with a predominantly Muslim population to recognize the newly established state of Israel.
Palestinian lands are being usurped and international law is still far from stopping it. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council use their vetoes in line with their foreign policy rather than for justice and fairness. The problem may become more complicated in the future if a lasting solution is not found. It will be more difficult to stop the Palestinians from resorting to armed resistance. Both the Palestinians and Israelis will suffer.
Trump’s deal of the century is also a serious deviation from the traditional US efforts to give an appearance of being an honest broker. He has, therefore, further complicated the already complex Palestinian question and there is no realistic hope of a resolution in the foreseeable future. It will be difficult for any future US president to correct the mistakes that Trump has made. The situation will therefore fester until a different power balance emerges in the Middle East, forcing Israel to step back.
• Yasar Yakis is a former foreign minister of Turkey and a founding member of the ruling AK Party. Twitter: @yakis_yasar