A Palestine without Jerusalem, a Jerusalem without Palestine

MERVE ŞEBNEM ORUÇ

The Oslo Accords, signed on Sept. 13, 1993, was a disaster for Palestinians. Twenty-seven years ago, the PLO gave up 78% of Palestinian land in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state in 22% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as per Israel’s suggestions.

Not surprisingly, it was signed at the White House. But because the negotiation process took place in Osla the agreement was called the “Oslo Accords.”

The Oslo Accords meant that Israel and the PLO would officially recognize each other for the first time. With Oslo, Israel was also recognized by the world.

Oslo also meant that Palestinians renounced their rights, although many thought that the agreement was a great success and a unique opportunity for a two-state solution.

Shortly after the deal, Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories increased. Those who opposed Oslo were right. Israel used Oslo only as a step to create the infrastructure for its illegal expansion in the occupied territories. According to Oslo, most of the West Bank’s control should have completely transferred to the Palestinian Authority which never happened. Basic problems such as Israel’s illegal settlements, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees were not on the table in Oslo. They were postponed for future negotiations. Eventually, Israeli’s illegal settlements tripled.

Some intellectuals, including Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said, were against Oslo. Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian People’s Liberation Front and many more said this agreement would not allow Palestinians, who had fled their homeland in 1948, to return and that Israel would not keep its word in the end. Within a short time, Israel’s violations proved that they were right.

Throughout the pre-deal negotiations, Israel benefited from Yasser Arafat’s loss of power after the Gulf War. At that time, Arafat and the PLO supported Iraq by facing the West and Kuwait. Therefore, Arafat was weak at the negotiation table.

The treaties signed by Yitzhak Rabin, the then-prime minister of Israel, and the hero of Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, in 1993 and 1995 did not only irritate the Palestinians, but it also angered some Israelis. The ones who could not even tolerate this agreement demonized Rabin. Extremists, like Israel’s Likud Party, opposed it harshly. According to them, the PLO was a terrorist organization and Rabin’s agreement meant giving up the rights of Jews, which were promised to them in the Torah. The current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was then head of the opposition. He said the Oslo Accord was “a deadly threat to Israel.” The atmosphere in Israel was terrible.

Eventually, Rabin was assassinated on Nov. 4, 1995, by an extremist Jew. His murderer was against the Oslo Accords; he couldn’t accept the idea of giving control of portions of the West Bank to the Palestinians.

A couple of weeks before the assassination, Netanyahu and other senior Likud members attended right-wing political rallies in Jerusalem where protesters portrayed Rabin as a “traitor” and pictured him in Nazi clothes for signing the accords with the Palestinians earlier that year. At one of the events, the protesters organized a mock funeral for Rabin. They chanted, “Death to Rabin,” in the presence of Netanyahu.

Three months ago, on Nov. 3, 2019, on the eve of the anniversary of the killing of Rabin, Netanyahu said politicians and Israelis who opposed the Oslo Accords should not be held accountable for the assassination.

“The one who is responsible for the terrible murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is the despicable killer Yigal Amir and a handful of extremists,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Oslo would fail in one way or another, even if had Rabin lived because Israel’s policy has never changed and will never change. To succeed with the Zionists’ “Grand Israel” plan, Israel puts one stone on the wall, then waits before putting another. And all the world sleeps, except the U.S. which has always supported Israel.

Just look at the last three years: In 2017, the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 2018, Israel passed a controversial “Jewish nation-state law” which gave the de-facto apartheid regime’s discriminatory policies a legal cover. And then, in 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognizing the “Golan Heights are part of the state of Israel.”

And in the very beginning of 2020, Trump announced his “Deal of the Century” peace plan. He gave Israel its long-waited gifts while he fooled the world by promising the Palestinians a so-called “state.”

Netanyahu, standing next to Trump, was smiling like a child waiting for his daddy to give him the candy-apple. Even certain details of the plan, which were applauded and cheered, showed that the U.S. and Israel are ready to shove the new tricky deal down the Palestinians’ throat.

This time, however, there is something very fantastically odd. A deal needs at least two parties, but the Palestinians were absent. Do you think Netanyahu, a man who was even opposed to the Oslo Accords, would accept a just and fair deal?

In the White House launch, Trump listed the proposals that were once again a disaster for Palestinians. They were offering nearly 30% of the occupied territories in return for the establishment of a Palestinian State. And again, unsurprisingly, all Trump talked about was money. He said the plan would create 1 million jobs for Palestinians over the next 10 years. Probably, they think of making Palestinians work in the infrastructure projects, like bridges, tunnels and roads, etc., that will dramatically split the lands of Palestine once again. He also mentioned a $50 billion investment plan and tripling the Palestinian state’s gross domestic product.

Would that happen if the Palestinians accepted the plan? Of course notAs Netanyahu said, putting the plan into practice would take years. Until then, a lot of water will flow under the bridge. He also said the status quo of Israeli control over the Palestinians would remain in place until the deal is reached, which means Israel does not intend to leave the proposed lands anytime soon.

Well, it is “a great plan for Israel” and a great plan for so-called peace, Netanyahu said. Even though Trump scoffingly said he had to think about Palestinians, what he offered was not even close to the Oslo Accords which never worked or helped the Palestinians or their cause. It is the worst of all. Again and again, Trump said this deal was the last for the Palestinians and so did his son-in-law Jared Kushner, the architect of the plan. Is this a threat to Palestinians? Did they mean, “Take it or suffer the consequences”?

According to the 181-page detailed plan, Jerusalem will be the undivided capital of Israel. But in the meantime, the capital of Palestine will be east of Jerusalem. It is like a joke as Palestinians will be kicked out of Jerusalem, even from the eastern and northern parts of the city. An eastern city or town, such as Abu Dis, a small village just out of Jerusalem, will be the new capital of the proposed Palestinian State, as it seems in the map Trump tweeted.

That means, the proposed Palestinian state will be without Jerusalem, and Jerusalem will be without Palestine. This is an unacceptable offer for Palestinians, but the greatest dream of Israelis.

At the same time, “all Muslims who wish to visit peacefully and pray at the Al-Aqua mosque will be able to do so,” Trump said. No, I did not mistakenly write “al-Aqua” because Donald Trump really called Islam’s third-holiest site, the Masjid Al-Aqsa” the “Al-Aqua mosque.” Let’s put that aside, this “‘sweet” proposal means that Al-Aqsa compound or Haram al-Sharif will just be a touristic area while the Western Wall, also known as the “Wailing Wall,” a religious site for the Jews, will continue to stay as it is now. The status of the Old City, which is under the control of Israel but where lots of Muslims and Christians live, is not mentioned in the plan while Trump says no one will be forced to leave their homes.

Other than that, it is known that one of the biggest desires of Israel is to rebuild the Jewish Temple on Temple Mount which is under the Al-Aqsa compound. That is why Israel keeps digging under the compound. The Israeli government spent millions of dollars on excavation projects to make the compound collapse. So, the Al-Aqsa compound will be a touristic area as long as it stays there, and then they will get rid of it, too.

Besides, the vast majority of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory will be recognized as part of Israel, according to the so-called “Deal of the Century.” In return, Palestinians would get territory, which is mostly desert, near Gaza, to compensate for the occupied land in the West Bank. The scattered lands of a Palestinian state would be linked via bridges and tunnels. The Jordan Valley, which is about a third of the West Bank, will also be recognized as part of Israel. While illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory will be a part of Israel, the Palestinian refugees will not have the “right to return” to their homes which they lost in previous conflicts.

The Palestinian state will also have no borders with any country, the plan suggests. In addition to that, the Palestinians will have no army, there are no certain details about the security of the Palestinian state, but it is for sure that Israel will have control over security in some areas of the Palestinian state.

I can hear what you say: What kind of a “two-state solution” is that? And you might think that the Arab states will never accept it. The Arab League has rejected Trump’s plan, but some Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have already given their support. In fact, the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman were at the White House during the launch of the plan. Trump did not forget to thank them.

During the Oslo negotiations, Arafat was in a tight corner as he had supported Iraq. Today, there are no Palestinian leaders at the table; in fact, there is no table of negotiation. There are just threats: “This is the last chance.” Today, Netanyahu and Trump are benefiting from the current crises of the Middle East as the real conflict in the Middle East now has turned into a proxy war between Iran and the Gulf countries, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Once, Palestine was the heart of the Arab world which had to be fought for. In order to surround the Arab states, the first prime minister of Israel developed the periphery doctrine (or the Alliance of the Periphery). Developing strategic alliances with non-Arab Muslims such as Turkey and pre-revolutionary Iran. Today, the situation has turned upside down. Turkey and Iran stand united with Palestine, and the Arabs are gone, except for some like Qatar.

Most of the Arab countries say the biggest threat in the Middle East is Iran and think that Turkey has to be stopped. That is why they forgot Palestinians and are at the brink of selling Palestine to Israel. The UAE, Saudis and Bahrain have had secret relations with Israel, but they no longer keep their friendship in the backroom. They also have close ties with Trump and built interfaith dialogues with Trump’s evangelical base and pro-Israeli Jews. That way, they are allied to stop Iran and undermine Turkey’s influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

So in reality, this plan is not for bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians: It means the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain are selling Palestine for their peace with Israel. Yes, it is a win-win strategy for some Arab countries, the Israelis and Americans.

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