Dr. Saeb Erekat: The Arab World Just Trashed Trump's Mideast 'Peace' Plan

February 18, 2019

The Arab World Just Trashed Trump's Mideast 'Peace' Plan

By Dr. Saeb Erekat| Haaretz| Feb 18, 2019  

Despite U.S. envoys' exaggerations and pretense, the Warsaw conference burst the Trump Mideast team's biggest delusion: that Arab states would back a deal that sells out Palestine, and Palestinians

U.S. officials have been trying to portray the Warsaw Conference as a success for their plans; the concrete results are far from that. Just as with other aspects of foreign policy under the Trump administration, its emissaries have exaggerated its results. One of their goals was to marginalize Palestine from the Arab discourse - and that became their biggest failure.

We cannot separate the Warsaw Conference from the so-called "deal of the century." While embracing the Israeli narrative and policies, the Trump administration has taken a number of steps that under no criteria correspond to those of a mediator, facilitator or a broker. Violating UN resolutions in order to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, defunding UNRWA, normalizing the presence of Israeli settlements, punishing Palestinian hospitals and students as well as regularly attacking Palestinians, are only contributing to maintaining Israel’s colonization of Palestine - and not to peace. This is what the Trump "initiative" is all about.

The U.S. administration refuses to acknowledge that its role in the world has changed, that the multipolar system of today does not entitle it to do as it pleases with the sovereign rights of other nations. The centrality of Palestine for the Arab world could not be hidden no matter the efforts of the Trump team. Some of the historic U.S. allies in our region that attended Warsaw, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Qatar, reiterated that the main foundations for peace and stability in our region go through the liberation of the land and people of Palestine. The Arab Peace Initiative is not going to be changed.

The question is then: what does the Trump administration have to offer on that regard? An ongoing plan, cemented with the most disastrous decisions, which has done nothing but strengthen radicals all over the Middle East. Accepting such a plan for our region does not only mean accepting Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the Holy Sepulcher, but a threat against the basic foundations of the international system, including the UN Charter, and undoubtedly to world peace and security.

Implementing international law and relevant UN resolutions in Palestine would mean that those who continue to fund extremists in our region would no longer find fertile ground for their actions if the root causes of regional instability are resolved. A comprehensive final status agreement means a solution to all issues, including the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with UNGA Resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative. 

In Warsaw some promoted the idea that the "past" should not define relations between Arabs and Israelis, Instead, they focused on the "future." It’s a ridiculous and doomed-to-fail attempt at normalizing Israeli crimes. The Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, is ongoing and its effects can be seen with millions of Palestinian refugees worldwide.

When the Abu Assab family was evicted from their home in the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem, to be replaced with Israeli settlers, only this weekend, it showed that the Nakba is ongoing rather than a matter of the "past." This won't end by defunding UNRWA, but by bringing a just solution as part of a comprehensive political agreement. Israel’s apartheid policies target the very existence of every Palestinian, including the Israeli attempts at changing the Arab-Palestinian identity of occupied Jerusalem, defined by the existence of its Christian and Muslim sons and daughters.

Despite the imperialist fantasies of the Trump team, the whole of Palestine remains close in the heart of every Arab - and is not going to fade away.

Witnessing Trump’s envoy pretending excitement over having an Arab foreign minister sharing his microphone with PM Netanyahu doesn’t cancel the failure of Warsaw conference, which demonstrated the deepening isolation of the Trump administration. Even their comments about having Arab ministers sitting with an Israeli representative in the same meeting is not any more accurate: That happens every year at the UN.

What the Trump administration still has to realize is that the Arab Peace Initiative is not going to be changed; that the only way towards achieving peace between Israel and the rest of the region is by ending the Israeli occupation.

Palestine has to be able to turn political support into political action. This is not only about Arab countries but also about the overwhelming majority of the international community, which condemned the steps taken by the Trump administration. It’s necessary for all to take actions in accordance with international law and UN resolutions towards the end of Israel’s occupation and the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

Therefore, it’s a priority to support the resilience of our people in exile and under occupation, including by setting a system of international protection. Holding Israel to account for its systematic violations and crimes is not an alternative to a meaningful peace process, but it’s a mandatory step to create the right environment for peace. 

Even though Palestine did not attend the conference, it remained the most visible issue whether in our region or elsewhere. Washington has been mobilizing all its efforts to isolate a defenseless people under occupation, but the obvious outcome is more determination from the Palestinian leadership and a clear message from the Arab world: The Palestinian cause remains the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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