The Gravity of Ignoring the Middle East Peace Process

It is widely acknowledged that President Donald Trump is controversial. He will certainly go down in history, but it will not be as the man who achieved peace in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israelis as he promised during his campaign. Rather, he will go down in history as the man who dealt the coup de grâce to the regional peace process. He has shattered Palestinian hopes of winning their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and living a dignified life like everyone else in the world.

Since taking office more than a year ago, Trump has finally revealed his true face. His policy toward Israel is more biased than that of any previous American president. Last May, Trump personally ordered the start of preparations to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, claiming that the city is Israel’s eternal capital. This phrase was later repeated word for word by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently being investigated for corruption. From Trump’s point of view, the conflict over Jerusalem is no longer one of the items on his to-do list. Thus, Washington has lost its role as an honest broker. It is expected that any other biased position Trump takes on this conflict will certainly not be in the Palestinians’ favor.

Trump’s behavior in this provocative context betrays his lack of knowledge about the region’s history and the causes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If the American president deals with the conflict this way in violation of international law and United Nations covenants, then serving “the capital” Jerusalem to Israel on a silver platter will certainly fuel the conflict and may even lead to a third intifada or a new war. Trump’s disgraceful position on Jerusalem complements Netanyahu’s policy of “Judaizing”* the city. Netanyahu instigated this policy and continues to support it. Jerusalem was a major stumbling block in the Camp David talks that took place 18 years ago under President Bill Clinton’s sponsorship.

The United States is considered the only country that can influence the Israeli government. Yet the U.S. lacks the good intentions or serious desire to resolve this conflict , something which has exacerbated other regional conflicts in recent years and for decades.

Instead of exploiting his country’s close relationship with its “stepchild” to end the conflict, Trump’s blind and unconditional bias toward Israel betrays his total lack of interest in resolving the conflict. This lack of concern is well known. Trump is indifferent to the world’s problems. This is especially true when it comes to the Palestinians who have lost their ability to move freely because of Trump’s position on Jerusalem and his broken promise to solve the conflict by “making a deal,” as the businessman put it.

Trump has now put the Palestinians in a difficult position. They know this “non-peace” and “non-war” situation does not serve their ambitions. Naturally, it has become a time to review their strategy and rethink the concept of resistance. This is not limited to Hamas. Rather, pressure is also mounting against Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the so-called self-governing areas. Abbas calls for an end to security cooperation with the “Israeli occupation army,”** which the majority of Palestinians consider a means to serve Israeli security interests.

Observers note that Trump’s position toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his pro-Israel bias has helped achieve a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah. Additionally, the two parties no longer have strong friends who can influence the peace process. This Palestinian-Palestinian rapprochement, which was always the hope of the entire Palestinian people, was also helped along by the European Union’s absence from the conflict. The EU has been preoccupied with its own problems like Brexit and the refugee crisis playing out in Europe in addition to the growing gap between Washington and its European allies. When Netanyahu participated in the Munich Security Conference last February, he offered no thoughts on a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. He is only interested in provoking and threatening Iran. Just as Netanyahu avoided the issue, other leaders, officials and political experts from every corner of the world failed to take advantage of Netanyahu’s presence at the conference to question him about his total lack of any imagined scenario for the peace process.

According to an analysis published Sunday by the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, Trump and Netanyahu are wasting their chance to achieve peace in the Middle East thanks to the development of links between Israel and some of the Arab states. In addition to exchanging intelligence information with Saudi Arabia, Israel has concluded a gas deal with Egypt and strengthened its economic cooperation with Jordan. The newspaper said that these developments could help Netanyahu revitalize negotiations with the Palestinian president. However, Netanyahu has no intention of doing so, and he does not feel anyone is applying pressure to push him in that direction. The Middle East peace process is no longer on the table as a problem to be solved. This is very dangerous to the region’s security.

*Editor’s note: The “Judaization” of Israel is a term used to describe the view that Israel has sought to transform the physical and demographic landscape of Jerusalem to enhance its Jewish character at the expense of its Muslim and Christian characters.

**Translator’s note: This is the author’s description of the Israeli Army.

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