On March 25, 2019, two weeks prior to the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump declared the Golan Heights property of Israel. The crucial decision came following decades of controversy and debate surrounding Israel's expanding occupation. Netanyahu made sure to thank Trump in a mockingly transparent response on Twitter in which he claimed "diplomatic victory" for Israel.
James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C., did not agree with the Israeli PM.
"There was no 'diplomatic victory'... There was a military victory, one that has consolidated control over the territories while subduing Palestinians, along with the broader Arab world. There's no diplomatic victory in that, there's no acceptance in that, and there's still extreme and bitter resentment over that. Nevertheless, Israel holds the territories and doesn't seem to give a damn," Zogby concluded.
"There was no 'diplomatic victory'... There was a military victory, one that has consolidated control over the territories while subdoing Palestinians, along with the broader Arab world.
In addition to the current territories that Israel occupies, the Israeli PM has recently vowed to annex further settlements in the West Bank - an area comprised of nearly 3 million Palestinians.
In a last-minute effort to seize further settlements, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas called on the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) to convene in Ramallah on May 15 to discuss their options on determining which countries they can rely on for assistance. To its dismay, one of its strongest and longest allies has already been exempt from playing a major role in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts: Jordan.
On April 24, Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt announced that Jordan would not be taking any part in a potential confederation between Israel and the PA as he emphasized the strength of the U.S.-Jordan partnership. Greenblatt also stressed that Jordan would not be deemed as a permanent residence for Palestinians, despite the fact that over 70% of its population is comprised of Palestinians.
"The Jordanians have no leverage, just like the Palestinians. They have become dependent on a [certain] process and it's very difficult to separate them from that. Are the Jordanian people happy with the situation? No, but do they see anything changing? No, they don't," Zogby remarked.
The Jordanians have no leverage, just like the Palestinians. They have become dependent on a [certain] process and it's very difficult to separate them from that.
Without Jordan, the PA could potentially aim for assistance from the other Arab states in hopes of normalization. Unfortunately, Zogby believes that the majority of those countries would no longer be willing to take part in a meaningless spending cycle.
"On the part of [the] governments, there's a fatigue. They've been paying for years and they're not happy with the performance of the authority nor the fact that they're basically subsidizing the occupation... I think that's an issue. Arab leaders know that their people have no tolerance for normalization with Israel and so there might be a meeting here or there, but will that translate into normalization? The answer is no, it will not."
With the current lack of substantial support, the PA could also reach out to another long-term ally: Egypt. Unfortunately, recent developments in the region could make that difficult:
"The lowest favorable ratings for the U.S. come from Egypt and the lowest support for any form of normalization with Israel also comes from Egypt... Yet, they're the ones that have a peace agreement. Jordanians are not far behind that, but what choice do they have, though? What can they do? Egypt might be able to do something, but even they have become dependent on the arrangements that have been established," Zogby explained.
In regards to the upcoming meeting with the PCC, Abbas warned that the conference would also be contemplating the severing of all signed contracts with Israel, including the 1993 Oslo Accords.
"Abbas can say whatever he wants but he doesn't have any leverage at all," Zogby responded. "The only way that Palestinians can gain leverage is through the exertion of non-violent political mobilization that demonstrates a will to resist and one way to do that is through the BDS movement."
Meanwhile, the parasitic relationship between the U.S. and Israel continues to evolve as Netanyahu and Trump's republican party grow closer together through constant favors that one does for the other. “Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump, for answering another one of my important requests,” Netanyahu praised Trump for his verdict on the Golan Heights.
"The partnership isn't as much between Trump and Netanyahu as it is between Trump and Republicans, which dates back to the 90's... Some would argue even earlier", Zogby told Al Bawaba. "Netanyahu was re-elected so that he could sabotage the peace effort, and he's succeeded in doing so with the help of Republicans. He has always helped, or tried to help, republicans as much as he could. He was very close to Trump while he was running and was obviously trying to sabotage democratic offers back then... This is a marriage between two countries."
Netanyahu was re-elected so that he could sabotage the peace effort, and he's succeeded in doing so with the help of Republicans.
Ultimately, the probability of either a two-state solution being reached or the 'Deal of the Century' being negotiated has faded over time. According to Zogby, the most efficient peace efforts can only culminate through an alternate route based on diplomatic opposition:
"The significance of non-violent resistance is that it takes away from the opponent the opportunity, which they've always had, to up the ante and to use more violent means to get back at you. The moral authority of non-violence is something that cannot be questioned; it's not passivity... It's actually the bravest and most courageous form of resistance possible. It involves masses which inherently makes it a democratic movement and that's something that the PA is afraid of, due to the democratic nature of it. It has to be a disciplined effort which, until now, the PA has been unwilling to do out of fear of massive mobilization."
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