The Trump-Netanyahu-Kushner Apartheid Plan

David Finkel

Posted February 13, 2020

Trump and Netanyahu unveil their apartheid plan, January 28, 2020 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Many appalling details of the apartheid-annexation Steal of the Century proclaimed as the Middle East “peace plan” by Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Jared Kushner – the troika of the impeached, the indicted and the idiotic — have been pretty well covered by the progressive media and Middle East commentators. (I’ll suggest a brief list of sources at the conclusion of this article.)

Predictably, the plan rollout was timed to boost Trump’s standing with his Christian-Zionist fundamentalist base and the right wing of the Jewish community, and his crony Netanyahu’s standing in Israel’s pending third election within the last year (the main opposition candidate, Benny Gantz, also welcomed the plan to annex Israel’s West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley).

In the White House drafters’ calculation, a “peace” deal on any terms would facilitate the strategic project to incorporate Arab regimes and Gulf monarchies, led by Kushner’s Saudi buddy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, into the U.S.-Israeli alliance against Iran. That’s also what lay behind the U.S. drone assassination of Iranian general Qassim Soleimani.

Writing in The New Yorker online (February 10, 2020), however, Bernard Avishai observes that

the Trump Administration’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace has already been so widely discredited for its one-sidedness and its political deviousness that there is a risk of ignoring its most immediate threat — which is not to the Palestinians but to Jordan.

In Israel, the plan, or “Vision,” as the document unveiled at the White House calls it, has been received as an American warrant for the Israeli government to annex West Bank territory. This could precipitate a crisis in the Hashemite kingdom of Abdullah II, whose stability is critical to Israel’s security, and to that of America’s regional allies, particularly in any effort to thwart Iranian forces in Syria, Iraq, and the Gulf.

The Most Immediate, Unexpected Threat of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan

If those are unintended consequences, many others are entirely intentional consequences of previous acts of the Trump and earlier administrations. The handwriting was on the wall when Trump named his bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, a supporter and financier of the rightwing Israeli settler movement, as U.S. ambassador to Israel, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and announced that the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements contrary to international law.

This is entirely in keeping with longstanding U.S. doctrine that international law is only what the United States says it is, and applies when and only when the United States says it does. In any case, the effective result is that Trump has put the final bullet into the corpse of the “two-state solution,” which has been dead in practice for quite some time anyway.

Old Garbage in New Pail

Contrary to Kushner’s claim to taking “an unconventional approach,” Yehuda Shaul points out in Foreign Policy online (February 11, 2020):

(T)he Trump plan is actually as traditional as it gets. In fact, it bears striking resemblance to another plan published more than 40 years ago. In 1979, the World Zionist Organization released a plan titled ‘Master Plan for the Development of Settlements in Judea and Samaria, 1979–1983,’ written by Matityahu Drobles, a former member of the Knesset for the Herut-Liberal Bloc — a precursor to today’s Likud party — and the head of the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, the body responsible for planning and building settlements.

His plan was basically a detailed attempt to execute the then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan for settlement expansion — a task that successive Israeli governments carried out with great zeal over the following four decades, placing 640,000 settlers in key areas throughout the West Bank. Trump’s vision is actually Drobles 2.0.

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Isn’t New. It Plagiarized a 40-Year-Old Israeli Initiative

The plan’s map for disconnected Palestinian areas does break some new ground in its degree of dishonesty, as Shaul states: “Drobles was honest enough to admit what he was doing; he was explicit that what his map described was not a Palestinian state but the means to prevent one. Trump and Kushner support the exact same line of thinking, yet they call this collection of bantustans a plan for ‘two states.’”

There’s a reason for this deceptive language, which may be the plan’s most sinister dimension although it’s greatly underreported in the mainstream media. It envisions the “transfer” of Arab villages in northern Israel, where many of Israel’s 20% non-Jewish population lives, to the fake Palestinian “state” — along with the citizenship of their inhabitants.

This scheme, which would follow the logic of Israel’s recently adopted “Jewish nation-state law,” is not only an outrage in its own right. It follows a rising trend of ethno-supremacist reaction in many parts of the world. The largest example is India, where the Hindu-nationalist government’s projected new “registration” threatens the citizenship rights of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Muslims who’ve lived there for centuries.

Don’t imagine it’s just a faraway trend. Donald Trump, if reelected, might feel emboldened to overturn the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship for anyone born in the United States, setting off a Constitutional crisis that would make his Russia collusion and Ukraine extortion look like child’s play. That might be a high crime too tall for even Trump to attempt, but it’s never a good idea to “misunderstimate” (as George W. Bush might put it) the criminality of this administration.

Even if for no other reason than the forced removal of 20% of the Israeli-Arab population from Israel, this travesty of a “peace plan” should alarm everyone. At this writing I’ve seen no leading Democrats calling out this most sinister feature.

Democratic Party presidential candidates and Congressional leaders mostly say they oppose the plan’s “unilateral” character with no Palestinian participation. Elizabeth Warren stated, “I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form — and reverse any policy that supports it.”

Only Bernie Sanders’ Senate office issued a statement that a peace deal must “end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent, democratic, economically viable state of their own alongside a secure and democratic state of Israel.”

Sanders is the one candidate who speaks the words “Palestinian self-determination.” That’s laudable in the face of the long U.S. bipartisan support for Israeli supremacy, especially as the Bernie-bashing campaign of the Democratic party establishment and corporate media revs up to full throttle.

Regrettably, the potential for achieving meaningful Palestinian self-determination within the “two-state solution” has been strangled by Israeli action and imperialist complicity. Nor does the U.S. ruling class care about Palestine at all, and its cynical endless exercises around a “peace process” with no peace have produced the present result.

The struggle ahead against the Israeli state’s imperialist-abetted apartheid-annexationist “solution” will be long and difficult. It’s up to the solidarity movement at the grassroots to intensify our activism, especially around the global Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) campaign, educate our communities, and put Palestinian rights on the agenda from the bottom up.

Further reading

Professor Rashid Khalidi has written several important articles, including President Trump’s Peace Plan Is the Latest in a Century of Outrageous Deals for the Palestinians, and given interviews, including “Yet Another Declaration of War on Palestinians”: Rashid Khalidi on Trump’s Middle East “Peace” Plan on Democracy Now.

Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Nazareth, Israel dissects Jared Kushner’s discussion of the Palestinian Authority’s “police state” in Duh, Jared! So who built the PA as a “police state”?. He writes on the sinister “transfer” plan in Israel’s Palestinian minority has good reason to fear Trump’s plan.

On the growing strength of the fanatical Israeli religious-settler right wing, Moshe Machover’s essay Messianic Zionism: The Ass and the Red Heifer appears in the February 2020 issue of Monthly Review.