The sweep of COVID-19 across the globe has knocked off the world agenda the plan of the U.S. and Israeli governments to “settle” the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by granting the Israeli government pretty much all it wants in its “Deal of the Century.” However, while the new disease rages, Israel continues to implement its policies of ethnic cleansing.
Here, I visit with several notable Gaza activists about what is needed next. But first, I believe it is necessary to remind everyone of the historical context that has shaped today’s reality.
A history of intent to oppress
U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” is not a “peace plan.” Rather, it is a blueprint for usurping Palestinian lands and ethnically cleansing Palestinian inhabitants, with the aim of erasing Palestinian identity and history. As such, it is not unprecedented. Trump’s plan is only the most recent “solution” for Palestine drafted by a foreign power without consulting the people most affected.
Historic Palestine has been a target for occupation since the first conference organized for the Zionist movement in 1897. In 1917, via the Balfour Declaration, the British government announced its support for creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine—giving a green light to the immigration of Jewish people from countries all over the world to Palestine. What often is forgotten is that the declaration also contained a pledge to respect the civil and religious rights of Palestinians. Of course, this promise was broken many times over.
In 1947, the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 181, which split Palestine almost in half: the new Israeli state was given 57% of the land, Jerusalem was designated a “Special International Regime” and the reminder was allocated for an Arab state (initially governed primarily by Jordan). [Another promise that was not kept: Palestinians living in the new Jewish state were to be allowed to stay.]
Palestinians, of course, were not allowed to vote on their fate, since they were British subjects at the time. Thus, it should have been no surprise that the result was the Nakba, or catastrophe, in which more than 700,000 Palestinians faced brutal, forced displacement at the hands of Zionist forces. By January 1949, Zionist forces had seized control of 78% of historic Palestine, sacking as many as 600 Palestinian villages. With time, Zionists perhaps thought that taking Palestinian land would be easier. Ten years later David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, said, “the old will die and the young will forget.”
Yet the generations of Palestinian refugees alive today have not forgotten the injustices done to them; in fact, in many ways, the Nakba continues today. Israel’s aggressive measures to force Palestinians off their land or squeeze them into submission have only accelerated—aided and abetted by its most powerful ally, the United States.
Deal or ‘Steal’?
The most recent advancement of the Nakba carried out directly by the United States, with the 2019 decision to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, followed by announcement of the much-touted “deal of the century.” That plan, however, is actually a blueprint for Nakba 2.0:
- Palestinians would be forced to give up their dream of a capital in Jerusalem, settling instead for an area in the outer sections of the eastern part of the city.
- The Palestinian state would be an “archipelago” of enclaves, connected only by a network of roads, highways and tunnels.
- Israeli security would be prioritized over Palestinian sovereignty. Thus, Israel would continue to control the air space, Jordan Valley — proposed as the new eastern border of Israel — and the network of roads. Israel also would be allowed to enter the Palestinian state at any time in the name of security and “maintain the right to dismantle and destroy any facility used for the production of prohibited weapons or for other hostile purposes.”
- Israel would annex large swaths of land now home to settlements. In fact, approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank would be incorporated into Israeli territory.
- The 6 million Palestinian refugees would be refused the right of return — a right enshrined in international law under U.N. Resolution 194. In addition, only refugees currently registered with UNRWA would be eligible to receive benefits from the agency, thus excluding future children.
Trump threatened to stop all American funding and support for the Palestinian people if their leaders refuse the deal. But this deal is actually a “steal” and we will never accept it.
In Gaza, residents launched their largely peaceful weekly protest by the border called the Great Return March (GRM). In the West Bank, there were—until COVID-19 swept in, resulting in quarantines and lockdown—direct clashes with the occupation military.
A main goal of the Palestinian resistance is to spread awareness among about the dangers of the deal and the people’s inviolable right to return to their homeland. We Are Not Numbers, for example, invited Palestinian-American human rights lawyer Noura Erakat to speak about how to wield international law as a “weapon”; a large crowd assembled to hear her at the Islamic University of Gaza.
Source: We are not numbers.