It’s not peace, it’s apartheid

Defined as the “deal of the century”, the last opportunity for achieving peace in the land of Palestine and Israel, President Trump’s plan entitled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” is a 181-page document with lots of details and charts that accurately describes a wish list of Israeli demands, rather than a peace proposal. It is not a break with the status quo, neither a break with previous US foreign policy attempts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is just a natural, and, eventually, clear culmination of what has been constructed by the US administrations throughout decades.

By releasing this long-gestating plan on 28 January 2020, Trump together with his son-in-law and Special Envoy Jared Kuchner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have consolidated Israel’s colonial power and the reality of an ongoing and intensifying status of apartheid. Both, Trump and Netanyahu, have also used the plan in order to distract public opinion from their own domestic affairs (in the US, impeachment charges of abuse of power, and, in Israel, indictment for corruption) and to revitalize their political bases.

The core of the deal

As described by the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – B’tselem, the plan looks like Swiss cheese, or emphasising this image, the cheese has been offered to the Israelis and the holes to the Palestinians. In detail, the deal calls for Israel to annex all settlements in the West Bank as well as in the Jordan Valley, and considers Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state, creating a Palestinian archipelago of small and isolated enclaves surrounded by Israeli territory. Fragmentation and discontinuity will caracterize the Palestinian land that will lose any kind of political and strategic control, any kind of self-determination.

The so-called “vision for peace” represents a decision taken without consulting the Palestinian Authority that  consequently has quickly rejected it and cut all ties with the US and Israel, including those related to security issues. Overall, this plan is very far from reaching any compromise, from ending the Israeli military occupation, from anything dealing with peace and with the establishment of a feasible Palestinian state. On the contrary, it just adds even more obstacles to the current situation.

Excluding international law from all the parameters

After that the Trump administration has appointed a pro-settler lawyer as ambassador to Israel, has cut funding to the UN agency for the Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), has left the UN Human Rights Council, has declared that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not necessarily illegal and has recognised the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, this further step is unsurprising. It just stresses the real position of the US by legalising and recognising the Israeli military occupation over the Palestinian land and people. Moreover, it also represents a perpetuation of the Oslo system that has allowed the state of Israel to control de facto the entire territory of historic Palestine.

At present, all the previous international agreements, UN resolutions (in particular resolutions 242 and 338) and the general pressure from the international community have been completely buried. The legalisation of Trump’s deal means the end of any possible peace project. As many experts and professors of international law have also showed, what is going on in the land of Palestine is increasing the similarities with the notorious bantustan system of apartheid in South Africa.

However, and in a rather paradoxical way, unveiling the real face of Israeli apartheid and its consequences could push the Palestinians and their leadership to attempt a new national unity process, by starting with establishing dialogue between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in the near future. As the everyday conditions of the Palestinian people have passed through endless forms of oppression and injustice, it is also true that this tragic moment could turn the Palestinian political struggle into a new pathway towards a legitimate and fair reality of equal rights for all people living in that land, in one state.


Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu during the announcement of the plan / photo by the White House / public domain
The opinions expressed in this text are solely the author’s point of view and do not bind the Center for International Studies, its Director or any other researcher.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Giulia Daniele

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CEI-IUL. Visiting Research Fellow (CMRB, UEL). Her first book is entitled Women, Reconciliation and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Road Not Yet Taken (Routledge, 2014).

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