With the advent in Washington of an Administration with radical new priorities regarding Israel, and a disdain for Palestinian rights, Palestine is facing a daunting reality.
By Rashid Khalidi / The New Yorker
January 19, 2017
It is abundantly clear that the United States, in the age of Trump, and Israel, in the age of Netanyahu, will do nothing to change this picture. In this context, the Palestinians face stark choices. They can either submit to the dictates of the U.S. and Israel or they can fundamentally and urgently redefine their national movement, their objectives, and their modes of resistance to oppression.
With the advent in Washington of an Administration with radical new priorities regarding Israel, and a disdain for Palestinian rights, Palestine is facing a daunting reality. In recent years, ascendant political currents in America and Israel had already begun to merge. We have now reached the point where envoys from one country to the other could almost switch places: the Israeli Ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, who grew up in Florida, could just as easily be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, while Donald Trump’s Ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, who has intimate ties to the Israeli settler movement, would make a fine Ambassador in Washington for the pro-settler government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Whereas America’s solicitous concern for Israel and its disregard for the Palestinians were once cloaked behind evenhandedness, under Trump we are set to see a more complete convergence between America’s political leadership and the most chauvinistic, religious, and right-wing government in Israel’s history. It will be this Israeli government and its new American soul mates who will call the tune in Palestine for at least the next several years.
The entire Palestinian political and economic structure set up since the 1993 Oslo Accords was predicated on the idea that it would evolve into a genuine, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state. That illusion, held by many Palestinians, has by now been dispelled. This flawed structure was also based on the premise, a naïve one at best, that the United States had a national interest in moderating Israeli behavior and achieving a modicum of justice in the Middle East. That premise, too, has been demolished.
For Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority, set up by the Oslo Accords ostensibly as part of an interim arrangement for Palestinian self-rule, will continue to do more harm than good. Few people understand that the colonization of Palestinian land and the nearly fifty-year-old Israeli military occupation—among the longest in modern history—would not be sustainable today without American and Israeli sponsorship of the P.A. and its U.S.-trained security forces. The P.A.’s criminalization of any form of resistance to dispossession, discrimination, and Israel’s permanent military control have made it, in effect, a tool of collaboration with the occupation. Even bloggers and peaceful demonstrators are subject to arrest and harassment by P.A. forces. The way this institution operates against its own people provides a preview of the future that both American and Israeli officials will now foresee for Palestinians in the occupied territories: a future that is constricted, controlled, and void of sovereignty and self-determination.
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