This article was originally written for socialistworld.net, the website of the Committee for a Workers’ International.
The recent ‘deal’ announced by US President Donald Trump, and enthusiastically endorsed by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was billed as a ‘Middle East peace plan’. But as the Economist journal wrote: “As a blueprint for a two-state solution it was dead on arrival”.
It entrenches the national oppression of the Palestinians and formalises the end of the myth that a genuine Palestinian state is possible under capitalism. It dashes the hopes of Arab and Jewish working people in the region that a peaceful solution is possible.
Under the ‘plan’ the US will recognise Israeli sovereignty over large areas of the West Bank, including illegal Jewish settlements and much of the fertile Jordan valley. A Palestinian quasi-‘state’ would extend over a patchwork of tiny Palestinian territories with its capital in a suburb east of Jerusalem cut off from the city by an Israeli wall, swallowed up by a greater Israel.
It would be completely encircled, would have no army or air force, and Israel would continue to control its skies, borders, and seas. Israeli forces would have the right to invade Palestine, at any time. The US and Israel could veto Palestinian moves for independence.
The 1993 Oslo agreement held out the hope to Palestinians that theoretically a Palestinian state could be formed as part of a ‘two-state’ solution.
The Socialist Party and the CWI warned that, in practice, the majority of the Israeli ruling class would not allow a Palestinian state to be formed, out of fears that it would be a destabilising factor that would threaten Israel itself.
The Palestinian Authority, split between the West Bank and Gaza, was never allowed to develop towards a state. A corrupt Fatah government, now led by Mohammed Abbas, has control of the West Bank. In Gaza, the Islamist party, Hamas, gained mass support and took over after winning the 2006 election in the area. In both territories, dissident groups are repressed.
Successive right-wing Israeli governments have undermined and attacked the Palestinian areas (in Gaza, in 2009, killing over 1,000 civilians) and allowed/assisted the seizure of large parts of land in the West Bank and Jerusalem by Israeli settlers and developers. Rocket attacks sanctioned by Hamas have been launched from Gaza into Israeli towns.
Burying a Palestine state
The suffocation of the Palestinian Authority had undermined any hopes that Palestinian people have of a new Palestinian state. The Trump plan buries the idea completely.
Apart from the US administration, only the Netanyahu government was involved in the drawing up of this ‘peace plan’. And if the Palestinian Authority does not sign up to the deal in the next four years then Israel could annex other areas too, unless Israeli settlers seize it first.
Clearly this is not a serious peace plan. It has more to do with the personal interests of the two parties to the agreement: Trump and Netanyahu.
As the ‘peace plan’ was announced both men were facing trials – Trump being tried in the US senate, and Netanyahu facing criminal charges for corruption.
Trump wants to solidify his right-wing base before this year’s presidential election and also assist Netanyahu to hang on to power in Israel’s general election on 2 March.
However, the ‘peace plan’ bombed among Netanyahu’s hardline Likud and settlers’ constituency, who fear any mention of a ‘Palestinian state’ and instead want full annexation. At the same time, the US administration put pressure on Netanyahu to avoid such a provocative move as it could ignite protests throughout the Middle East. Consequently, Netanyahu had to cancel a cabinet meeting which was meant to endorse the ‘peace plan’ before the forthcoming general election.
Moreover, Netanyahu’s plan does not offer any prospect of peace for the Israeli working class – it promises only more conflict and war as the Palestinian people are denied their national aspirations. Jordan could be drawn into a wider conflict.
And a continuation of the corrupt Netanyahu regime would promise even greater poverty for the Israeli working class in one of the most unequal societies in the OECD.
For the Palestinian masses, the plan promises more agony without end. The pro-capitalist authoritarian Fatah and Hamas regimes in the West Bank and the Gaza are incapable of organising a successful struggle for national and social rights.
The building of a democratically organised mass struggle against the Israeli occupation, that also sweeps aside the corrupt Palestinian leaders, is needed for the Palestinian working people to achieve liberation.
The movement needs to adopt a socialist programme that can guarantee the rights of both the Palestinian and Jewish people, overcome the powerful Israeli capitalist state and promise an end to poverty, insecurity, exploitation, and war, for all, as the only means of securing a decent future.