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Trump's first steps on Israel/Palestine

For starters: Make the $38 billion military aid package dependent on Israeli actions to dismantle the occupation, and recognize the State of Palestine already.

By Sam Bahour

Donald Trump poses for a photo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Donald Trump poses for a photo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, September 25, 2016. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Again, the Republican candidate in the U.S. presidential elections lost the popular vote but won the election. Such is a function of the mechanics of the U.S. flavor of democracy where not every vote matters; only votes in key states matter. Nevertheless, billionaire Donald Trump is heading to the White House.

Trump’s ascent into the U.S. presidency will be the material for political analysts and historians, not to mention Hollywood, for many years to come. That noted, history has already clearly established that the difference between a candidate’s campaign and their posture once in office are like night and day. This applies to Trump just like it would apply to any other candidate. He should prepare himself to be the tool of a state apparatus which is much more about the U.S. than it will be about Trump the person, despite the best efforts of his public relations spin masters.

Campaigns are fairy tales driven by the individual candidate, whereas holding the office of the U.S. president offers a 24-hour Ph.D., especially for a non-politician, about how countries, especially the world’s super power, are complicated institutions that require cold, hard calculations built on strategic state interests. In the U.S., the president, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are merely three actors in a pool of variables that define the state’s interests.

One of these important variables are the lobbies that affect the process. The pro-Israeli lobby is one of the powerhouse lobbies that intrudes in U.S. politics and is driven, illegally, by the interests of a foreign country. For Trump to reach out to king masters in U.S. politics is to be expected given his non-existent political experience and shallow policy capacity. Yet less than 48 hours after announcing his victory, Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to New York for a meeting.

The Israeli prime minister is laughing all the way to the next West Bank hilltop, thinking he is better positioned than ever to impose his right-wing (some Israelis call it fascist) agenda on America. He is correct to think so given the Israeli settler community mobilized to support Trump’s campaign, so all indications would point to Trump embracing illegal settlement building with open arms.

As part of Donald Trump’s mandatory Ph.D. on how states operate, I’d like to provide some free advice. This is advice from a fellow American citizen from Youngstown, Ohio, a place he visited on the campaign trail multiple times. I also happen to be Palestinian and have lived and worked under Israeli military occupation for nearly 25 years. Thus, I note:

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations. Now that the empty rhetoric of the campaign trail is behind you, I urge you to make the Israel/Palestine file a priority. Actually, this is not an optional request. Your predecessors have caused so much damage to the reality on the ground that the situation has reached a boiling point, but not like past boiling points, where wide scale violence breaks out. Instead, the boiling point I speak of is a political one.

As the Obama Administration repeated several times, in one way or another, Israel is headed toward a state of apartheid or a bi-national one-state reality, both which will have been imposed by Israel’s military might, and both which Israel, as we know it, cannot accept. Such an Israeli-imposed reality would be in direct contravention to a two-state solution, which is the long-standing U.S. policy, not to mention embedded in scores of UN resolutions.

Lucky for you, other presidents have tried everything else so your options are limited, and have a high probability for success.

First, without delay, you should recognize the State of Palestine, just as over 138 countries have already done. The U.S made a similar recognition of Israel 11 minutes after it was founded in 1948; don’t you think the Palestinians are due the same, even if belated a half century? You have options here, direct recognition, or reversing the “no” vote on the UN General Assembly resolution of Nov. 29, 2012 which upgraded Palestine to a non-member observer state status, or let a request for full UN membership for Palestine pass in the UN Security Council by voting in favor, or by just not vetoing.

Next, the U.S. must finally start to hold Israel accountable as the military occupier it is. A good start would be to revoke the $38 billion military aid package, and link that money to future Israeli concrete action to dismantle its military occupation. That $38 billion would go a long way for your much-toted infrastructure upgrade project to help “Make America Great Again.”

At this late hour in the conflict, anything less would mean that the U.S. was never serious about the two-state solution. Palestinians may even rejoice to be able to return to a one-state reality, even if at the beginning it would only be in theory. Israel would be unable to swallow the one-state solution they are imposing on themselves, and that fallout will cost the U.S. dearly if it truly cares about Israel’s existence.

Sam Bahour is a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network; Chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy; and Co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians (Olive Branch Press). He blogs at www.epalestine.com. @SamBahour.

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    COMMENTS

    1. i_like_ike52

      I think Abbas and the rest of the Palestinian Authority welcome the election of Trump. Most seem to believe that Trump is not going to be pro-active as W Bush and Obama were in pushing for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which is the last thing the Palestinians want. They don’t want negotiations because then they pressured to respond to Israeli offers and to make counter offers themselves which they can’t do. To this day, the Palestinians have never presented an offer from their side for a compromise peace, because they would have to make concessions which are totally unacceptable to the Palestinian people, primarily giving up a demand for an unlimited right of return of the Palestinian refugees, a demand that is non-negotiable and which they can never give up.
      Recall that Arafat told Bill Clinton that he didn’t want to go to Camp David with Barak but he was pressured to do so. As a result, he unleashed the bloody “second intifada which lead lead to thousands of Israeli dead and wounded, and similar losses on their side. When the Palestinians are being pressured for concessions, they frequently have to turn to violence which then distracts everyone from these pressures.
      Thus, I think Trump will be a relief for them. No more pressure to make offers and compromises, and they can instead focus on going to the UN and demands for meaningless resolutions and ineffectual boycotts, which they can then present to their population as being some sort of “achievement”, even if nothing changes on the ground. The Palestinian leadership can then continue to pocket the aid money they are getting, fatten their Swiss bank accounts and enjoy themselves without having to put themselves out while keeping their population happy with political “bread and circuses”.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bus189

      Hahahahahahahahah. You are hilarious! Good job on putting together this utterly ludicrous proposal. I am glad you still have a sense of humor. Is this based on the premise that whatever Obama wasn’t able to do, Donald J. Trump will? That is precious.

      Perhaps you should address this to the future secretary of state – Newt Gingrich. I am sure he will have a great time responding to you.

      Trump isn’t going to waste his time or effort on helping a bunch of crybabies who refuse to accept a state if it means making peace with Israel and so end up teaching their children to go out to stab Jews. It isn’t worth the political capital. If the Palestinians want peace they are going to have to accept the principle of two states for two peoples and come to the negotiating table with the government of the state of Israel. No one, and almost certainly not Donald Trump, will be coming here to force Israel to compromise its security and make concessions to a group of people that still hold in their heart the desire to destroy Israel and as such are unwilling to accept the principle of actually living in a state next to rather than instead of the state of Israel.

      But keep joking. I am certainly enjoying it. Hold your head up high. Never lose hope. And keep writing these wonderfully entertaining letters.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        @Bus189: There isn’t going to be a Palestinian state, ever, under any circumstances, not even if all the Palestinians convert:

        http://mondoweiss.net/2016/11/palestinian-israeli-reactions/

        You win. There’s one state from Jordan to the sea, it’s owned lock stock and barrel by The Jews. Every square inch of Israelistine is controlled by the IDF. What are you complaining about?

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          Mondoweiss? Why don’t you quote from Storm Front, or revive Der Sturmer instead? Or would you prefer Mein Campf? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

          If you like hate publications and lynch mobs, you may as well go the whole hog, Bruce!

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “Mondoweiss!… Storm Front!” The purest hysteria. The irony is, Storm Front is backing Bus’s darling Trump. How about that? But don’t let me get in the way of the very interesting dialogue here, because Bruce Gould is spot on. Proceed.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            Bus’s Trump? I thought Bus is Israeli but you Ben and Bruce are Americans. Are you American Ben? Or are you just pretending? You seem to spend an awful lot of time here instead of worrying about what is happening in America? Sure does not make sense. Care to explain?

            No? I didn’t think so. Carry on regardless 😳

            Reply to Comment
        • Bus189

          Who is complaining? I don’t delude myself. We don’t want to annex all the Palestinians so there will be a Palestinian state. We are going to determine its borders and make sure that it will not be a threat to us.

          I don’t care if Obama and Trump go through and recognize it or if it becomes a member of the UN. It doesn’t bother me in the least. In fact, I find it entertaining that we are threatened with something that the Palestinians themselves would have rejected as an idea 15 years ago. An internationally recognized Palestinian state while the IDF controls most of the West Bank and the settlers don’t need to be removed? Sign me up for that. There is no downside for us here whatsoever.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “determine its borders” and “make sure that it will not be a threat to us” are of course causally disconnected ideas for which you are fabricating, with propaganda, for land-grabbing purposes, a specious connection. Given this obvious maneuver, no one who has a shred of objectivity sympathizes with Israel on this. No need to reply. Organized crime is a grim fact of life but does not need to be succumbed to per the Israeli “accustomization” policy.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “Organized crime is a grim fact of life”

            Read our lips Ben, no recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, then nothing happens.

            Seeesh, is that so hard to comprehend? Of course it is, for people who pay attention only to what THEY WANT. They have the mind of an infant who throw hissy fits, stomp their little feet and yell at the top of their voices, “I want”….”I want”….I want”….

            Reply to Comment
    3. Roy

      The “Palestinians” can still ave their state, but time is not on their side. They need to accept one of the generous Israeli offers that was given to them, of face the fact that their territory will continue to shrink.

      Not accepting a deal now means a worse deal in the future.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Lewis from Afula

      In the next 4 years, Bibi will increase the Israeli population in Yesha from 400,000 to some 480,000. After that, the “faskestinians” will have to dismantle themselves and revert to their original Jordanian identity.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Every society has its thugs. The make up of the American-Israeli-settler-transplant society however reflects the forces of immigration and selection bias. It draws a higher percentage of thugs than the larger population. And a lower percentage of educated individuals with a conscience. One might view you simply as a single item reflection of that trend.

        Reply to Comment
        • AJew

          Well Ben,

          The Middle East is a thuggish place. Haven’t you noticed? We cannot afford to be shrinking violets either no matter how much biased little entities like you would like us to.

          Have a nice day.

          Reply to Comment
      • Carmen

        “In the next 4 years, Bibi will increase the Israeli population in Yesha from 400,000 to some 480,000. After that, the “faskestinians” will have to dismantle themselves and revert to their original Jordanian identity.”

        I knew he’d get around to fucking everybody. i think he’s a bit long in the tooth for that kind of detail though. What’s the hebrew equivalent of ‘lebensborn’? Ha’Bayit Ha’Yehudi?

        What is a ‘faskestinian” Lewis? It would be easier for you and anyone else trying to read your posts if you’d stick with palestinians. You must realize by now Lewis that no matter how many times you repeat a lie, it’s still a lie.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Lewis from Afula

      What is a “Fakestinian”?
      The same as a “South Syrian” or a “Jordanian”.

      A temporary fake nation conjured up by the Arabs illegally squatting in the Land of Israel. The South Syrians invented themselves in the very early 1920s. After 1948, they renamed themselves “Jordanians”. The “Fakestines” are the current mutation. In another 20 years, they will be something else.

      Reply to Comment
      • carmen

        You’re the squatter Lewis. When jews came here, the majority of the people were palestinians. This is their home and they don’t have to leave it. israelis have to wake up. it’s either going to be one state for all, or no state at all.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          The so-called “fakestinyans” never existed. If you disagree then tell us:
          1. Their capital city was….
          2. Their official language was….
          3. Their official religion was…
          4. Their 1st King was called…
          5. Their parliament was located on….

          Please fill in the blanks.

          Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            I prefer the following source rather than your source Ben:

            http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MFrefugees.html#17

            “FACT
            As Secretary of State John Kerry attempts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, Palestinian AuthorityPresident Mahmoud Abbas has remained unyielding, and rejected most of Kerry’s ideas for advancing the peace process. Worse, he has backtracked on previous positions. During the negotiations, Palestinian intermediaries reportedly were nearing a compromise with Israel over allowing some number of refugees. (Israel said it would take 80,000 to live in Israel and the Palestinians wanted 200,000).

            Abbas, however, subsequently set back the talks by declaring that all refugees should be allowed the choice of whether to live in Israel or Palestine.

            According to the UN, more than five million Palestinians are refugees. Does Israel have any obligation to take in some or all of those people?”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Thanks. I prefer what Elie Friedman and Peace Now write. What they write feels much truer and less concocted, less “just so.” You see, their explanations are intelligent. Their explanations are not self-serving. And their explanations are dynamic and not static. They understand that negotiations are dynamic processes between humans. Where you start is not where you end up. And that both sides comprise populations made up of human beings worthy of respect. You prefer arms crossed, unbudging, static, “this is just how they are and how we are because Arabs and Jews are just like that” explanations, and you prefer it because:

            –You get to play the victim.

            –You are fundamentally ethnotribal in your worldview and I, a political liberal, prefer to see, when possible, the things all human beings have in common. We know what happens when Europeans start dividing themselves up and emphasizing their differences. The 20th C was a bloodbath. For the Jews most of all, but for everyone. And yet you guys are bent on emphasizing differences and vigilantly policing for backsliders among you, who you call traitors.

            — But most of all you prefer it because Israel has all the power and you love the status quo and the long game and accustomization and wearing them out and wearing the world out. I love justice, fairness and peace. And being sensible.

            Now every time you bring up Bibi’s patented “Jewish State” Gimmick I can save both of us a lot of time and just link to Friedman’s scintillating analysis. You’ll hate it, I’ll like it, you’ll denounce me as an Arab-lover and a damned liberal too, and everyone will be happy.

            Reply to Comment
          • AJew

            “They understand…”

            They understand nothing. At best they are wishful thinking dreamers who ignore the reality which dangles under their very noses. Yes, peace now ignore even the fact that Abbas is the one who is refusing to negotiate. And they pretend that Hamas does not even exist.

            “I prefer….”

            Yes Ben, I know what you prefer. You prefer to pretend, eludue, delude, evade and quote the delusionals and the liars. Never mind. Lucky some of us are here to counteract your BS in a very small way. If it makes just one person think for themselves more and take the trouble to look at the complicated Middle East story in a more balanced way then it is worth while. As for the rest of em’, the rest of the ones who prefer to wallow in their hatred or allow themselves to be deluded, like you Ben, I say to them: cest lavie.

            Reply to Comment
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