Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement Monday – that the US will not think about Israeli settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of worldwide regulation – is, in some ways, a near-perfect encapsulation of the Trump administration’s strategy to Israel-Palestine.
Couched in grotesque doublespeak, it claims to advance “the reason for peace” whereas signaling US approval of Israel’s brutal, perpetual army rule over the roughly three million Palestinians dwelling within the West Financial institution. It’s half and parcel of the Trump administration’s ongoing, concerted efforts to undermine worldwide authorized frameworks for addressing human rights violations (and never simply in Israel-Palestine). And it’s but extra proof, not that extra was wanted, that the Trump administration is actively pursuing a post-two-state-solution agenda.
Certainly, for an administration marked by erratic decision-making and sudden reversals, Trump’s has been totally systematic in the case of ending the viability of a future Palestinian state. This, after all, isn’t any shock. In a transparent harbinger of what was to return, right-wing pro-Israel operatives near Donald Trump – amongst them David Friedman, now US Ambassador to Israel, and Jason Greenblatt, former particular envoy to the Center East – efficiently eliminated assist for a two-state answer from the 2016 Republican Social gathering’s platform.
Since its inauguration, the Trump administration has taken draconian measures in opposition to key Palestinian establishments, from shuttering the PLO workplace in Washington to slashing funding to UNRWA, the UN physique that distributes important help to over 5 million Palestinian refugees throughout the Arab world. In 2018, the Trump administration moved the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (East Jerusalem, which Israel unilaterally annexed in 1967 and which the worldwide neighborhood considers unlawfully occupied, was as soon as supposed because the capital of a future Palestinian state.) Final March, President Trump formally acknowledged Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – occupied by Israel in 1967 and, in violation of worldwide regulation, unilaterally annexed in 1981.
These steps are supposed to put together the bottom for Israel’s eventual annexation of elements of the West Financial institution, one thing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – presently combating for his political survival and going through doable indictment in a number of legal circumstances – has pledged to undertake if re-elected. Consistent with the Israeli proper’s annexationist insurance policies, the Trump peace plan – “the Deal of the Century” – is all however assured to be a present to the territorial-maximalist proper. To say that it’s unlikely to incorporate a Palestinian state could be an understatement.
However as is typical of Trump administration selections, this isn’t merely a matter of ideology. It is usually a matter of non-public expediency – for Trump and Netanyahu alike – in addition to a blatant occasion of US intervention in another country’s political system. Each Trump and Netanyahu are slowed down by investigations into their nearly actually legal conduct. Pompeo’s announcement is a bone thrown to Trump’s anxious base of Christian Zionists and the Jewish spiritual proper, and it’s one other reward – very like Trump’s Golan Heights recognition – to Netanyahu who, floundering in electoral limbo, can now declare a overseas coverage victory simply someday earlier than Israel’s lawyer normal is predicted to announce his indictment.
It will, nonetheless, be a mistake to view Pompeo’s announcement as a whole break with US coverage precedent. Once more, as with a lot of what the Trump administration has finished over the previous a number of years, this, too, marks much less a rupture with the established order than its unmasking. Whereas the US authorities has lengthy thought-about Israeli building of settlements within the occupied Palestinian territories a violation of worldwide regulation on paper, it has finished little to carry Israel’s authorities meaningfully accountable in follow.
Previously decade, maybe the closest the US authorities got here was the Obama administration’s abstention from a 2016 United Nations Safety Council decision that condemned Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of worldwide regulation. Simply 5 years earlier, the Obama administration really vetoed an analogous decision condemning Israeli settlement constructing – with a justification fairly much like the one supplied by Pompeo in Monday’s announcement. Condemning Israel for violating worldwide regulation, then-US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice claimed, was unlikely to “transfer the events nearer to negotiations and an settlement.”
Not a novelty of the Trump period, this type of refusal to implement the overwhelming worldwide authorized consensus on Israeli settlements has been an indicator of US coverage on Israel-Palestine. Pompeo’s announcement is, no doubt, a step past what earlier administrations had been prepared to think about. However the distinction between this resolution and former US selections to ignore worldwide regulation is a distinction of diploma, not variety.
Which must be a warning to those that want to see a simply and equitable remaining standing settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Even when Trump is gone, the forces which have doggedly labored to forestall the US from holding Israel accountable for its actions will stay. The views expressed in Pompeo’s announcement are roughly shared, as an illustration, by the highly effective pro-Israel foyer AIPAC – which, although maybe arduous for some to consider, is going through criticism from the messianic-Zionist proper for not endorsing outright Jewish settlement within the occupied West Financial institution. (In truth, the positions of among the Trump officers presently driving U.S coverage on Israel-Palestine are additionally to the precise of AIPAC’s acknowledged positions: Ambassador Friedman, a outstanding pro-settlement activist, is an adamant opponent of a two-state answer, which AIPAC nominally helps, at the very least for now.)
Nor will the prospect of de jure annexation disappear, even when Netanyahu falls sufferer to a palace coup inside his Likud social gathering, resigns over indictments, or loses a possible third spherical of elections. De facto annexation will proceed apace, no matter who finally ends up the subsequent prime minister. However Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s foremost political rival, additionally thanked Pompeo for the “essential announcement,” which he known as “an indication of the US’s robust assist for Israel and dedication to its safety.” Members of Gantz’s Blue and White Social gathering, which may presumably lead a future Israeli authorities, assist annexing elements of the West Financial institution.
Thanks not solely to the Trump administration, but in addition to the constant inaction on the a part of earlier US administrations and the empty, ineffectual statements of the European Union, Israeli leaders may be assured that – no matter steps they determine to take in direction of making an impartial Palestinian unattainable – they won’t face severe worldwide penalties. Pompeo’s announcement is solely affirmation of what has lengthy been clear to these paying consideration.
The potential of de jure annexation, alongside creeping de facto annexation, will stay a part of the political calculus of Israel-Palestine for the foreseeable future: the two-state answer, much less so.