“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” President Donald J. Trump said as Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, standing alongside him, laughed. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while that two state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
The Palestinians get a choice?
Just when I think that the ignorance and incompetence of President Trump can’t hit a new low he outdoes himself. Trump’s ignorant and frivolous comments about abandoning America’s commitment to a two-state solution were deplorable, despicable and dangerous and countered years of domestic and international consensus on how to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Further, it was another in a long line of Trumpian dehumanizing comments tossed into the Public Square without thought of consequence, without any empathy for people living under oppression and occupation, whether in America or in Palestine.
Netanyahu and Trump, themselves both sustained by aligning their political fortunes and parties with extremists and haters, could only, in the course of the entire press briefing, think of themselves and their own political fortunes.
True narcissists, they never considered the consequence of their words, of their prejudices and privilege. They laughed, brothers united by a dystopian fantasy that the fate of Palestinians can be determined by two chummy white men in Washington.
They never mentioned Palestine – not once.
They never mentioned Occupation – not once.
Does anyone really think that either Netanyahu or Trump actually gives a damn about what Palestinians think?
Does anyone really think that Trump, who reportedly met with Netanyahu without any State Department representative present, actually has a clue what’s at stake in the Middle East, that Trump has even the most rudimentary knowledge of the history of Palestine-Israel conflict or the stakes involved?
Trump and Netanyahu seem to be united by an agenda that seeks to marginalize and disenfranchise the Palestinians, blow up the P5+1 nuclear accord with Iran (an accord which nearly all of Israel’s intelligence and military establishment supports) and guarantee Israel’s hegemony over the region – short-lived goals that can’t assure Israel or anyone else’s long term security and survival.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was present at the gatherings and given a role in the proceedings without input from any career state department diplomats. Kushner has deep and close links to Netanyahu (Bibi once slept in Jared’s bed – Jared got moved to the basement) and his family has helped finance Israeli-occupied West Bank colonies.
Let’s be clear: what’s at stake is the future of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and the idea that a neophyte negotiator with deep links to Israel’s illegal occupation activities is our key negotiator should be of concern to all Americans committed to issues of justice and peace.
Let’s be clear: There are no settlements in the occupied territories. Where Israelis live on any Palestinian land they live in colonies; Israeli colonialists live on stolen Palestinian land.
What is happening to the Palestinian people is the taking of their inalienable rights, land, dignity and humanity, takings that themselves are in conflict with Israel’s aspirational foundations.
Such takings are not without consequence.
Israel is building colonies on land that doesn’t belong to them – in contravention to all international law – and building those colonies in locations strategically placed not only to dominate an oppressed people but are doing it in such a way as to make a future Palestinian state unsustainable either geographically or economically.
It is not without consequence.
Ghassan Kanafani was a major Palestinian writer and an active member of the Palestine resistance movement who was assassinated by Israel in 1972. In his most famous novel, “Men in the Sun,” three Palestinian refugees wish to travel from refugee camps in Iraq, where there’s no work, to Kuwait where they hope to find employment in order to support their families.
They arrange to travel by hiding inside the tank of a water truck. Traveling across the desert, their plight desperate, the trip unbearable under the heat of the sun, they knock continuously on the wall of the tank, crying, “We are here, we are dying, let us out, set us free.”
After going through the last check point, nearly within sight of Kuwait, the driver opens the tank to let them out – only to find them dead.
Today, Palestinians, in a voice that resonates with many peoples, cry still, “We are here, we are dying, let us out, set us free.”
They will cry today, tomorrow – and after tomorrow – until their cries are heard, until there is justice.
It is not without consequence.
Confirmation hearings are currently underway for Trump’s nominee for America’s ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience who rejects America’s historic commitment to a two-state solution and who is a major funder of building illegal colonies on the occupied West Bank.
His hearings are of little concern to me because the evidence shows me that Trump, who has the last word, has no concern for truth, diplomacy – or for justice.
Hopefully, NH’s Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee currently questioning Friedman, will oppose his confirmation if only as a sign that there is still some sanity and reason in Washington.
Interestingly, according to the Associated Press, the [David] Friedman Faculty House, which bears his and his wife’s names on the facade, in the colony of Beit El, is built on private Palestinian land without permission from its Palestinian landowners.
But Friedman need not be worried because recently Israel’s Parliament passed a law that would retroactively legalize Jewish colonies on privately-owned Palestinian land. The law institutionalizes land theft and moves the possibility of Israel’s annexing of more of or all of remaining Palestinian land – moves Israel closer to the day where it will just be another Middle East state where a minority will rule over a majority.
In response to Israel’s land-grabbing law Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat said, ”Contrary to Netanyahu’s plan of one state and two systems – apartheid – the only alternative to two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 border is one single secular and democratic state with equal rights for everyone, Christians, Muslims and Jews, on all of historic Palestine.”
That’s the choice facing Trump and Netanyahu, facing Israelis and Palestinians. Two states, each independent and sovereign or Israel ceases to be a democratic and Jewish state and rules with apartheid over the Palestinians.
That didn’t work very well the last time it was practiced, did it?