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Blackmail will not work

Jan 25,2018 - Last updated at Jan 25,2018

It goes without saying, that we in this part of the world have been largely disappointed with the US stand regarding peace in Palestine, from the times of Harry Truman to the present.

Aside from sporadic moments during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, George Bush Sr, and Bill Clinton — when something close to a balanced approach emerged — American foreign policy tended to tilt heavily on the side of Israel, often callously and blindly so.

At present, the Donald Trump administration is clearly following in the steps of several previous US administrations which, while paying lip-service to justice and peace in Palestine and the Middle East as a whole, are heavily influenced by Israeli pressure and the pressure exercised by the many pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere across the US, for whom Israel and not peace is the highest priority.

As a matter of fact, the Trump administration, whose Middle East policy appears to be dictated by die-hard Zionist supporters of Israel, has gone the extra mile in being entirely on the side of Israel.

Take, for example, its position on the American embassy in Israel and on Jerusalem.

Why would the first step this administration takes, even before attempting to revive or restart peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and even before understanding or attempting to understand what is going on in Palestine, be to hand Israel on a silver platter one of the final-status issues and one that should have been settled by negotiations: that of Jerusalem?

How would people in this part of the world read such a move? How would they take seriously any talk about the "deal of the century" or accept this administration as a patron of peace and an honest broker?

Such a manipulative step borders on the thuggish, as far as the Palestinians and the Arabs are concerned.

What about previous Israeli commitments to Arabs and Palestinians (on Jerusalem itself and other areas) agreed upon on the basis of laborious bilateral and multilateral negotiations, many under US auspices? What about the so many UN resolutions on Jerusalem and Palestine? What about international law? What about human rights?

How can this administration write all of this off?

For decades, several analysts have viewed the US position on Palestine and the Middle East as part of the problem, and not the solution. At present, they have started to view it as the problem.

And the current administration's behaviour seems to support such reading, as each political move it has taken so far appears to complicate and escalate matters, rather than alleviate or solve.

After the ill-advised, ill-boding Jerusalem declaration, the Trump administration, instead of gracefully backing out or rephrasing the declaration to show that it does not mean to threaten Palestinian rights (both Muslim and Christian) in Jerusalem, it — adding insult to injury — started intimidating states which voted against it at the UN General Assembly, threatening to close the PLO offices in the US and cutting aid to the Palestinians and others who oppose its bullying policies, and withdrawing support to UNRWA (the safe haven for millions of refugees, victims of Israeli occupation and of ill-advised American policies, who have no one else to turn to).

This, in the view of many, is not only counterproductive but subversive; not only callous bias towards Israel, but outright blackmail of Palestinians and Arabs, as well as of all of those who take a balanced stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

During his recent trip to the region, US Vice President Mike Pence (whose  knowledge of Palestine and the Middle East is as thorough as my knowledge of Swahili) expressed his administration's interest to revive talks between the Palestinians and Israelis!

Just like that? 

You want the Palestinians to start negotiating from scratch, after you already have given so much to the Israelis before the restart of the negotiations? You want the Palestinians and the Arabs to simply accept the Jerusalem plunder?

It would be a huge mistake for the Palestinians and/or Arabs to take part in any formal negotiations before amends are made for the damage already done, and before this administration demonstrates in action not words that it can be trusted as a reliable and honest peace broker — which is highly unlikely.

The Palestinians and Arabs must be adamant about this, and must not feel pressured no matter what.


Just as US bias towards Israel over the years has helped neither peace in Palestine nor Israel itself (what helped both a bit was those sporadic moments of near-balanced thinking spoken of above); blackmail will not work. 

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