Why did Palestinians reject Trump’s peace plan? Here are three reasons

President Trump speaks during an event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Jan. 28. (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Trump speaks during an event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House, Jan 28. (photo: Susan Walsh / AP)
This situation has a name, regardless of whom one blames for it: apartheid.

By Ezzedine Fishere | The Washington Post | Feb 6, 2020

Condemning Trump’s plan and calling for resuscitating the two-state solution is no longer useful; that ‘solution’ has been dead for more than a decade. . . . Trump’s plan opened a gate for a powerful stream that will carry us toward the dreadful challenges of an apartheid state. The question before us now is what we all — Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis and the world — will do about that.

One didn’t need to read 25 books to predict that the Palestinians would reject President Trump’s Middle East “peace plan.” Palestinians have a reputation for rejecting offers, knowing quite well the next could be worse. They rejected the 1947 United Nations partition plan that gave them less than 45 percent of Mandatory Palestine, Ehud Barak’s “generous offer” at Camp David in 2000, and Ehud Olmert’s even “more generous” offer in 2008 after the Annapolis process. The world has grown weary of this perceived lack of pragmatism; many feel that, given their weak position, Palestinians should accept what they can get or “shut up,” as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman so eloquently put it in 2018.

Yet, without truly understanding the behavior and motivations of Palestinians, it is impossible to find a solution or even begin to manage the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Palestinians have accepted other offers, such as the Security Council resolution 242 in 1967 and the Oslo Accords, which promised them a meager 22 percent of Palestine — at best. All the proposed solutions involved a loss, so why do they accept some plans and reject others? The answer lies in three things Palestinians care about most: a sense of fairness, the hope of living freely in a sovereign state of their own, and the facts on the ground.

Fairness doesn’t matter much to diplomats; in fact, it irritates them, mainly because it often stands in the way of the easier deal, the one that yields to the powerful. But fairness matters to people. In my university classes, when discussing Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue, I regularly ask my students to choose between Athens’ offer of surrender and enslavement or defying it and facing a certain death. Each term, over 10 years of teaching, the majority of students chose defiance, just like the people of Melos did 2,500 years ago. This is the spirit Palestinians are invoking when they reject proposals they see as false choices rooted in injustice.

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