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Donald Trump’s Deal Of The Century And India’s Position – OpEd

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Apart from US perhaps India is the only country that can diplomatically help in resolving the issue because it has good relations with both the parties plus it shares tremendous bilateral relations with United States. India should extend the offer to mediate for the sake of world peace.

Donald Trump’s Kushner plan or settlement freeze or what he calls the ‘deal of the century’ is yet again the old disagreed one sided and pro-Israel formulae proposing better life for Palestinians at the cost of their freedom. What US President calls realistic two-state solution sounds more unrealistic and discriminatory since Israel’s colonial fantasies have always been Washington’s priorities? Yet again the Trump sided with the Israel and put forward a plan that further disintegrates Palestinians’ and aims at providing full support to Israel to annex all of its West Bank settlements. The announcement of the plan has failed to resonate among masses who called it non-sense and conspiracy thus sparked protests in the Middle East already marking the plan dead on arrival. The question is will it resolve anything on the ground and change the fate of millions of oppressed people when it has already become the end of the road. While Trump calls it a win-win for both but in reality it is a clear victory of Israel and signifies its domination over Palestine.

While Trump’s plan has been rejected by the Palestinian leadership who branded it as filth of the century especially the president Mehmood Abbas and Hamas have rejected the deal in strong words. The scholars round the globe have also criticised it though in soft words while UN rejecting the deal and maintaining its earlier stand on the issue. The timing of the plan is also interesting as Trump is seeking another term soon; faced impeachment embarrassment recently and lot of criticism back home while Israel’s PM Natanyahu is welcoming the plan and even calling it ‘opportunity of the century’ (though he means opportunity for him) for it may pay him large dividends and recover his tainted image especially when he has formally been indicted in court on corruption charges recently.

The need of the hour is to solve it forever but not on the basis of US’s blind favouritism for Israel. While some leaders Like Boris Johnson and the people of his ilk may admonish Palestine not to waste this golden opportunity, Palestinians see it as theft and as a plan of apartheid that gives them a limited sovereignty. Trump’s very statement that Jerusalem ‘will remain Israel’s undivided capital’ destroys the plan itself and even he has the audacity to state that the Palestinians can call their capital ‘al-Quds’. The mockery is why they will call a different territory as ‘Al-Quds’ which is far from the Quds itself (portions of east Jerusalem).The seriousness and sanctity of the plan lies in the fact that it was discussed and announced before a pro-Israel audience with Benjamin Netanyahu by Trump’s side and nobody from the Palestinian side thereby endorsing the Israel’s aggression and leaving no option for Palestinian side. Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank is nothing but an approval to Israel’s colonial polices and thus is flawed and against the international law. Palestine’s foreign minister rightly reacted by saying that,  “this can’t be the future of Palestine and our people have not struggled for so long, endured so much to simply change the size of their chains”. Palestinian side take it as a further compromise on their part and not at all a deal aiming at resolution of the issue.  

By such a plan it is actually the Israel in connivance with world’s super power that wants to further impoverish the Palestinian state by offering the conditional liberty and still claiming that it could pave the way to a peace deal.  Palestine demands freedom and sovereignty and not limited autonomy. The fact remains that Palentaninan side is though labelled for not reacting positively to talks offer or rejecting the talks every time but it is actually Israel that has disregarded the talks always.  

 Muslim World Rejects the Deal

While the Muslim world may not like the so called deal of the century that virtually divides Palestine and treats Jerusalem as capital of the Israel. It has further increased the gulf between the Muslims and the American stand (USA). Countries like Qatar, Malaysia, Turkey, Morocco,  Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, The Arab League, OIC and even Israeli rights groups like B’Tselem all have unanimously criticised the deal. Even Trump’s favourite ally Saudi Arabia has not endorsed the plan. Hardly any Muslim country is willing to accept Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. President Abbas out rightly rejected the proposal saying it is impossible for any Palestinian to accept a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.

Understanding India’s Position

India from the very beginning wants a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue. Needless to say India has a very good relationship with Israel given the mutual trade as well as security cooperation however India has also been fairly supportive of the Palestinian issue and such a position in fact makes it difficult for India to support any of the two parties. India is the biggest importer of Israeli arms in the world.The relations grew especially after 1992 when India announced its full diplomatic relations with Israel. After that India and Israel have become close on several counts like defence and civilian technological innovation, etc,.Israel is the only country in the Middle East perhaps that India has leverage over as the relations between the two nations have been evolving and growing and reached to a bilateral trade of about 5 billion dollars today.

On the other hand, India is Palestine’s friend as well. Right from 1974 when India became the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people to 1988, when India became one of the first countries to recognise the Palestinian State. Way back in 1996 India opened its representative office in Gaza that was later shifted to Ramallah in 2003. On November 19, 2019 when India also voted in favour of the resolution titled, ‘The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee’. The resolution recognised the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Thus India is in favour of Palestine’s right to self determination.

Therefore Indian diplomacy at this juncture is playing safe given the increased and deepened relationships especially under the Modi regime. Therefore it seems India would abstain from offending either Israel or say anything that affects its good ties with the Muslim world that openly support Palestine and harshly criticise Israel.

India has so far only urged both the parties to engage on Trump’s peace plan. While India has been fairly supportive of the Palestinian issue and firmly believes that the issues be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties that should be acceptable to says a statement released by the ministry of external affairs on January 29, 2020. India has to play an active role in the Middle East as it is in India’s backyard. But at the same time it has to consider important factors like Washington’s stand given the bilateral relations, sentiments back home given a considerable population that is supporting Palestine.

Apart from US perhaps India is the only country that can diplomatically help in resolving the issue because it has good relations with both the parties plus it shares tremendous bilateral relations with United States. India should extend the offer to mediate for the sake of world peace.

Tail Piece

Today Palestinian is more than just a political issue. It is also not a real estate project as Trump’s son-in-law perceives it to be; it has a severe humanitarian baggage with millions of refugees living in suffering far away from their own land. Kushner’s very statement ‘if they reject the plan they’re going to screw up another opportunity’, simply reflects how much value and respect is being given to Palestinian side and therefore is clearly an imposition. This deal practically won’t change most Palestinian lives for plan has no vision of tackling such a huge human crisis; it simply forbids refugees’ entry since the right of return of any Palestinian refugee into Israel is forbidden. For Israelis and Palestinians to reach a bilateral agreement, The US or the other peace brokers cannot preach a pro-Israeli vision or lure the Palestinian leadership by talking of a $50bn of investment (that too without an idea where from the money will come) as a solution and name it a peace deal. The 181 page plan itself is faulty as is either ambiguous or silent on many key issues that are crucial to Palestine’s existence. It is next to impossible to envision a Palestinian state with restrictions while also recognising Israeli settlements. There is a need to move ahead and propose something more and just than what was offered in previous peace attempts including this Jared Kushner’s peace plan what he calls the opportunity of the century is now glorified as the deal of the century.

                        [The article first appeared in Greater Kashmir]

*Dr Adfer Rashid Shah-a George Greenia Research Fellow is a Delhi based Sociologist, Conflict Analyst and Associate Editor at Eurasia Review. Mail at [email protected]

Dr. Adfer Shah

Dr. Adfer Shah

Dr. Adfer Shah, (Adfer Rashid Shah, PhD) is a New Delhi-based Sociologist and Social and Political analyst.He writes his columns for various reputed international and national media groups. He has been writing on South Asia's Socio-political realities especially on Kashmir sociology and Conflict Situation at Eurasia Review since 2012, where he is a Special Correspondent for South Asia Affairs and Associate Editor since January 2014. His recent publications include his three books (1)"Kashmir-Yearning for Peace: A Socio-Political history of Uncertainty and Chaos,2016" (ISSN: 978-3-659-55971-6), (2)'Social Science Research in Conflict Zones,2017' (ISBN: 978-620-2-47937- 0) and (3)'Tibetan Refugees in India: Struggle to Survive,2018' ( ISBN 81-8324-919-1)].. Reach him at [email protected]

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