Thursday,24 May, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)
Thursday,24 May, 2018
Issue 1393, (10 - 16 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Trump’s big error

On Friday, Palestinians are expected to hold their sixth, and most important, consecutive week of peaceful protests along the border between Gaza and Israel, known as the “Great March of Return”. The protests started 20 March and were planned to last until 15 May, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel, known to Arabs as the Nakba, or catastrophe.

After several years of sidelining the Palestinian cause, claiming it was no longer a priority in the Middle East region which has been embroiled in civil wars in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Palestinians wanted to send a clear message to the entire world that they continue to insist on achieving their legitimate demands, topped with the “right of return” to the lands they were forcibly evicted from following the declaration of Israel as a state on 15 May 1948.

Residents of Gaza, in particular, also wanted to remind the world of their inhumane plight as a population of nearly two million who have been squeezed in a narrow strip and separated from the rest of the world due to the Israeli blockade and siege over the past 12 years.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza since 30 March reached 45, including children and journalists who were seeking to do their job in covering the protests. More than 7,200 Palestinians have been wounded during the same period, including over 1,000 demonstrators who suffered different injuries last Friday alone. More than 70 among those wounded were hit with live ammunition used by Israeli occupation troops, allegedly to prevent Palestinians from crossing the fence that separates the two sides.

Trigger-happy Israeli occupation soldiers, who proudly film themselves while targeting and killing innocent Palestinian teenagers who posed no threat of any kind, are unlikely to show restraint this Friday, 11 May, the peak of the peaceful protests. US veto power in the UN Security Council has prevented even the release of a short statement warning Israel of the dire consequences of continuing to kill Palestinians in cold blood.

To make matters worse, the US administration did not only play the traditional role of providing cover and blind support to Israel on the international level. US President Donald Trump wanted to make his own contribution to Israeli celebrations marking its 70th anniversary and decided in early December to unilaterally move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem in defiance of international laws and UN resolutions.

Adding fuel to the fire, President Trump even decided to speed up the process of moving the US embassy in order to take place on the same day Israel was declared a state 70 years ago. Trump repeatedly stated that he wished he was there personally to open the new US embassy in occupied Jerusalem. Instead, the White House announced on Monday that he would be sending a high-level delegation led by his advisor, and son-in-law, Jarred Kushner, accompanied by Ivanka Trump and a senior cabinet member. This will certainly provoke Palestinians and trigger more angry protests. This is simply a licence to Israeli occupation forces to kill more Palestinians.

The most bizarre aspect of Trump’s policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is his claim that his decision to recognise occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is likely to help achieve peace between the two sides, and would allow him to introduce the so-called “deal of the century”. Let alone that the little details leaked of this so-called deal fall far short of minimum and legitimate Palestinian demands supported by international law and UN resolutions, but any objective observer would recognise that by taking Israel’s side on Jerusalem, Washington is left with no credibility whatsoever to play a mediating role or offer up peace proposals.

With little experience in politics or the Middle East region, the US president is committing a major mistake by thinking that he could use his business skills to force a deal on Palestinians short of their demands. Perhaps one of the experienced US Middle East advisors should remind Trump how the second Palestinian Intifada started in 2000 after late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon insisted on storming Al-Aqsa Mosque while heavily guarded by Israeli occupation troops. That was part of Israeli attempts to force late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat to accept a deal offered by former US president Bill Clinton, which also compromised Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, particularly at religious sites.

Palestinian national rights are not up for sale and the brave Palestinian people who resisted occupation for 70 years are not going to give up their legitimate demands due to pressure or threats coming from Washington, or brutal violence used by Israeli occupation troops.

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