Reflections on Trump’s “Deal” Against the Palestinian People
(reprinted from OCRFI Newsletter No. 11 [February 1, 2020], published by the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International)
The “deal” of the century, unveiled by Donald Trump on Tuesday, January 28, in Washington in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, needs to be characterized as what it really is: a plan for the total expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land.
That is the meaning of the authorization that has been given by Washington to the Zionist State to annex the Jordan Valley and all the land of the Israeli settlements which, for years now, have been chipping away continuously at the “Palestinian Autonomous Territories” (West Bank and Gaza Strip) established by the 1993 Oslo Accords. All aspects of this plan have one guiding orientation: the Palestinian people must disappear. From this point of view, U.S. imperialism – for its own reasons – is authorizing Zionism to carry its colonizing expulsion project of the Palestinians through to the end.
This “Deal” is being promoted by a significant sector of the U.S. bourgeoisie around Trump. It has, of course, been cheered in Israel, both by Netanyahu and by his main rival in the March 2 elections, Benny Gantz. But the plan could not have seen the light of day without the support of the reactionary Arab regimes in the region, particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have promised US$50 billion of so-called “investments” in the plan under the heading of its “economic plan.”
It is, however, necessary to respond to one question: Is this plan the “negation of the two-State solution,” as many are claiming? Or is it, rather, the culmination of the policy of the partitioning of Palestine that began with the United Nations resolution of November 29, 1947, promoted by U.S. imperialism, with the support of the Stalinist bureaucracy of the Soviet Union?
In the United States, a fraction of the ruling class has expressed publicly its reservations concerning the plan, notably through Democratic Party leaders. Democratic Party Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated that Trump’s proposal “raises many questions, specifically regarding unilateral annexation, settlement freezes and lack of negotiations with the Palestinians.” Joe Biden, a Democratic Party candidate for president, noted, “I’ve spent a lifetime working to advance the security and survival of a Jewish and democratic Israel. This is not the way” because “a peace plan requires two sides to come together.” Elizabeth Warren, another Democratic Party presidential candidate, stated that, “releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form.” For well-known billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who is also in the Democratic primary race, “Every peace plan deserves a chance, but any viable plan requires buy-in from both sides.”
For his part, Bernie Sanders, the candidate of the “left wing” of the Democratic Party, said, “Any acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN Security Council resolutions. It 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.” Furthermore, 12 Democratic senators, including Bernie Sanders, sent an open letter to Trump expressing their “profound concern” and concluding as follows: “Unilateral implementation of this one-sided proposal will risk eliminating any remaining prospects for achievement of a peaceful and viable two-State solution.”
Let us ask a first question: Is the Trump plan a break with the “two-State” policy and therefore a break with the Oslo Accords that established the Palestinian Authority in 1993?
The French daily Le Monde, partisan of the so-called “two-State solution,” asserted that, “the Trump plan sketches the far-off perspective of a Palestinian rump State” on a few scraps of territory. On the condition – Trump adds – that the Palestinian leadership recognize the State of Israel and that it “reject terrorism in any form” (i.e., that it renounce any and all struggle for the liberation of Palestine). The Trump plan says that this “Ersatz State” will be “demilitarized”: the Zionist State will be responsible for the security and control of its air space and “borders.” “Without control of its borders and its lines of communication, the State that is being promised [to the Palestinians] will be a State in name only,” concludes Le Monde, indignant. As for the right to return of the Palestinian refugees driven from their land in 1948 – an elementary democratic demand – it is purely and simply denied: “Palestinian refugees will be given a choice to live within the future State of Palestine, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country,” states the White House.
The truth compels us to point out that all the characteristics of the “rump State” contained in the Trump plan were included already in the 1993 Oslo Accords.
In 1993, the Fourth International – reproclaimed that same year – was the only political current to warn against the accords signed in Washington under Bill Clinton, in a statement published in September 1993.
This statement recalled that the Palestinian leadership in 1988 had renounced the Palestine National Charter, which Yasser Arafat declared “obsolete,” thereby abandoning the perspective of a Democratic and Secular Palestine on all its historic territory and recognizing, de facto, the State of Israel. The declaration cited the preamble to the Oslo Accords: “the two-State solution, Israeli and Palestinian, living side by side, is possible on the condition that violence and terrorism cease.”
The Fourth International declaration also cited Annex 2 of the Oslo Accords, which specifies that in the “Palestinian Autonomous Territories,” the following functions will not be the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority: “external security, settlements, Israelis, and foreign relations.” The “demilitarized” Palestinian Authority, established by Oslo, had neither an army, nor border control, nor air space, nor control of its own territory anywhere that was occupied by Israeli settlers. Let us further note that the Oslo Accords were supplemented by an interim agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (called Oslo II or the “Taba Accord,” September 1995), dividing the West Bank into three zones: Zone A (18% of the territory), entirely under Palestinian control; Zone B, under “mixed” control; and Zone C, entirely under Israeli control.
The September 1993 declaration of the Fourth International raised the question: “Is this a first step toward a Palestinian State? In what way is the Self-Government Authority [which then became the Palestinian Authority – editor’s note] a first step, when the enclaves of Gaza and Jericho remain under the control of the Israeli army, which will be charged with applying the decisions of U.S. imperialism, and when water, electricity, defence, land and the economy are under foreign control?”
It is a fact that the Trump plan does indeed go further than what was imposed in 1993. But in what way is what Trump proposes today qualitatively different?
Also, when the representatives of the Palestinian Authority today protest against Trump’s plan – like Saeb Erakat, one of the major Palestinian negotiators, has done – and when they threaten to “quit the Oslo Accords,” it will be hard for them to get the Palestinian people to forget that in 1993 they accepted the very same reasoning which, today, U.S. imperialism and its Zionist lackey are simply pushing through to the very end.
This brings us to a second reflection: The most dishonest feature of the so-called “two-State solution” is that, from imperialism’s point of view, since 1947, there has never been room for but one single State: the State of Israel.
As we wrote in August 2017, in the theoretical review of the OCRFI, The Internationale (issue n° 7): “Of the two States foreseen by the UN’s partition plan, only one, the State of Israel, saw the light of day, just as the Fourth International had predicted: ‘The establishment of an Arab State independent of Palestine is, in fact, highly unlikely.’ First and foremost because ‘King Abjullah of Transjordan, the Number One pawn of the City of London in the Arab world, could very well succeed in unifying Eastern Palestine to his present kingdom’.
“This is indeed what happened. As early as 1947, the Fourth International rightly warned against false allies of the Palestinian people: ‘the effendis and the imperialist agents (…), the maneuvers of the Egyptian and the Syrian bourgeoisie’, or to put it simply: the reactionary Arab regimes. These were prophetic words. Because the fatal illusions regarding the ‘help’ that the region’s Arab regimes (without exception) could offer the Palestinian Revolution were at the root of many of the bloody defeats and betrayals, from ‘Black September’ in Jordan to the Camp David Agreements between Sadat’s Egypt and Israel, via the securing of Israel’s border in the Golan Heights by Assad’s regime in Syria.
“As for the Palestinian leadership, all of its various fractions ultimately – first in 1988 and finally with the Oslo Accords in 1993 – renounced the Palestinian National Charter, which set the target of liberating the whole of Palestine and establishing one State whose citizens would all have equal rights, whatever their religion. Every one of the fractions of the Palestinian leadership – not just the PLO – shared in renouncing the Palestinian National Charter, including Hamas which, on May 1, 2017, officially declared itself ‘ready to support the (Palestinian) State on 1967 borders’ (in other words, the West Bank and Gaza Strip). There is no possible ‘third way’ between a democratic State and a war of extermination. ‘The only alternative to a two-State solution is one single secular and democratic State, with equal rights for everyone – Christians, Muslims and Jews – on all of historic Palestine,’ declared Saeb Erakat, chief negotiator on behalf of the Palestinian leadership, in February 2017… only to immediately rule out this ‘only alternative’, which would require breaking with imperialism, which the Palestinian leadership is not willing to do.”
It is clear that all those who, today, hold up the U.N. resolutions (beginning with the resolution of November 1947) or call to “respect the Oslo Accords” to counter Trump’s plan, share – whether they like it or not – a major point of agreement with Trump – namely, that it is not up to the Palestinian people to freely decide their own destiny. All the “solutions” to the Palestinian question since 1947 have been based on the notion that people other than the Palestinians should be the ones to decide, thus denying the Palestinian people’s democratic right to self-determination. The organizations of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International, while calling for the broadest unity of the democratic and labor movement to reject Trump’s “Deal,” cannot fail to repeat that it is up to the Palestinian people, and only the Palestinian people, to decide their own destiny.