The Steal of the Century: A Last-Ditch Effort to Cement an Illegal Occupation
By Julia Kassem
On Tuesday, Trump unveiled his and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century”, categorically rejecting the sovereignty and will of the Palestinian people, in fulfillment of “Israel’s” full-scale occupation and colonization scheme to finish off the West Bank and extinguish any prospect of Palestinian territorial, governmental, or military sovereignty.
The proposal, a Trump-style business deal meant to save face while cutting losses following US failures in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, comes at the helm of Netanyahu’s push to annex all of the West Bank and close off a complete occupation of Palestine. As “Israel” underwent years of failures with respect to its plans for external colonization, such as in south Lebanon and Syria in the occupied Golan’s Quneitra and Daara, it buckled down with its moves in total internal annexation and expropriation. “Israel” did this in the vein of Oslo, picking up where Yitzhak Rabin had left off with signing off the carved-out administrative and security zones in the West Bank to be set aside for a gradual and further procession of ethnic and territorial cleansing of Palestine actualized in the current “Deal of the Century.”
Though the political portion of the deal just unveiled following last June’s announcement of the economic portion, the parts that have been revealed before Tuesday, involving the multi-billion dollar development plans allocated to both Occupied Palestine and the Arab states around it, speaks for itself and exemplifies the material interest underlying any possible political proposal. The plan was brokered last June in Bahrain, a tiny oil-rich island hosting US naval 5th fleet and the US’s first military base established one year before “Israel” in 1947, where years of a relentless uprising against oppression have been hopelessly stifled by the Gulf regime and its neocolonial order.
The plans build upon these age-old schemes and initiatives by enabling “Israel” to annex all of al-Quds [Jerusalem], and over a third of the post-Oslo Area C subdivision in the West Bank, which, under the 1993 agreement had placed it under total “Israeli” security and military domain.
In the largest illegal land-grab since the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, “Israel” would also be allowed to claim nearly every illegal settlement built in the West Bank. Included in this is the Jordan Valley, with, along with Jerusalem, carved out to extend and overreach the Zionist entity’s claims over Palestine’s eastern boundary and isolate Palestinians from their regional neighbors.
The plan claims to offer Palestinians some concessions in proposing a halt to all new settlements and sparing 15 locations in the West Bank from further settlement. However, the plan as it exists does not guarantee or ensure a complete moratorium on settlement-building; an irrelevant concession either way given the Deal’s nefarious demand of ensuring US recognition of all current and exiting illegal settlements and annexation of Jerusalem, all illegal under international law but with most recent settlements officially greenlit by the US in November 2019. Before the deal, an uptick of massive illegal settlement construction, daily violations and instructions of the Al-Aqsa mosque, a higher and more aggressive than usual uptick of forced removals and demolishment, and self-declared annexations by the Occupying entity were so endemic to US policy towards Palestine under the Trump administration where violence, occupation, and expropriation had operated more incrementally before. 2018 saw the US’s attempts at slashing UNRWA, a service that not only provides aid to displaced Palestinians but also recognizes their right to return under international law, the opening of a US Embassy in al-Quds [Jerusalem], the shutting-down of PLO offices in DC, and more aid cut to Palestinian programs, services, and institutions, including the Palestinian Authority in February 2019. This helped seal the deal for the upcoming deal, laying the groundwork that would ultimately position any concession a net gain in “Israel’s” favor.
From the December 2017 declaration to declare al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the so-called capital of the Occupying Entity rather than Palestine, to the mobilization to build an additional 10,000 illegal settlements in the last year alone, any lip service given to an unguaranteed halt to settlements has already been surmounted by the largest and most violent cases of land expropriation and forced removal Palestinians had to face since 1967. Just last month, a disabled man in East Jerusalem witnessed his home demolished for the first time in 20 years. West Bank Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem, are continuing to be forced out of their homes in droves, with demolitions and forced removals especially high in the last two years. Palestinian residents and families in East al-Quds [Jerusalem] have even been forced to demolish their own homes as “Israel” remains committed towards its relentless pursuit to seize al-Quds -m a practice commonplace before “Israel’s” anticipation of the Deal, but unprecedented in frequency since then.
These propositions, a means of continuing an age-old project with added characteristics of a renewed, neoliberal development deal, is meant to cement economically what is becoming unsalvageable politically. The deal calls for Palestinians to completely rescind the infrastructure for self-defense and resistance alike, adding to their already feeble military capabilities diminutive in land and absent in air and sea. Though this predictably calls upon resistance groups in Gaza to disarm, it will also force the Palestinian Authority, who post Oslo served as the useful Palestinian containment apparatus of the “Israeli” Occupying Forces [IOF], to also demilitarize.
Though the deal is meant to salvage some semblance of a pre-determined destiny imposed upon the will of the Palestinian people, it rather signals a grave level of defeat on the part of the American empire and its “Israeli” and Gulf allies in the Middle East. The US-”Israel”-Gulf axis is losing militarily in the Middle East and the “Deal of the Century” has been the US’s attempts at saving face in the region and consolidating its neocolonial hold on West Asia. Predictably, the shared political interests of Saudi Arabia, the UAE,
Nonetheless, the effects of the Steal-of-the-Century have already proven to backfire. As the “two-state solution” framework long upholding the discourse of the liberal peace shatters to pieces, Palestinians and their Arab neighbors in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria’s Golan under similar situations of military occupation and aggression will further actualize their right to resist, having long exhausted all diplomatic and legal avenues for peace and sovereignty.
The Deal comes as huge swaths of territory in Yemen, east of Sana’a and Idlib and Aleppo. In Syria are being liberated. Palestinians have rallied in Gaza, Ramallah, and elsewhere to mobilize a mass resistance and rejection of “Israel’s” impunity with theft. And this solidarity extends and will expand past Palestinian boundaries into other Arab struggles; Sayyed Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Ansarullah movement in Yemen that has resisted Saudi Arabian aggression for years, just called upon “all people of the region” to act in counter to the “Deal of the Century,” which he called a “US initiative to prop up Israeli occupation with Saudi and UAE money.” Hezbollah, honoring these efforts in popular resistance, regarded “resistance” as the “only option to liberate the land and restore the sanctities” in a recent statement condemning the American administration’s decision and the complicitness of its Arab allies, vowing that the Palestinian people will resist to overturn the deal before it can act on its depraved vision.
The $50 billion Trump is proposing to Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Occupied Palestine is not an investment or a package to the Arabs. It’s a bribe, and a package serving only “Israel” and its allies. The Trump administration mistakenly expects complicities of the Arabs of the region with this money, similar to that of its Gulf allies when given such transactions for development and arms deals alike. Yet, the mounting resistance against the Deal – and the reaffirmations from Palestinians that have long declared that Palestine is not for sale, have taken root to uproot occupation and colonization. For better or for worse, the two-state solution is dead – so it’s past time for the US, “Israel”, and the Gulf to face up to phasing out of its overstayed un-welcome in the region; lest all regional forces of progress, resistance, and anti-colonialism appropriately take it upon themselves to do so.