To nobody’s great surprise, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has condemned Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan for the region. He is certainly right to criticise it, and for a variety of sound reasons – but he should still engage with it, very badly flawed as it is.
Far from being the grand plan it has been marketed as by Washington, one of the supposed parties to the deal, the Palestinians played no part in its negotiation. It is a fait accompli, presented as a “take it or leave it” deal. Were a Palestinian nation state fully operational and recognised, it might be said to be an unequal treaty between a conquering nation and a vanquished one.
However, the “deal for the century” violates various UN resolutions, and most significantly the historic UN Resolution 242 which defines the status of the occupied territories won by Israel after the 1967 war, and requires their evacuation. Now, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, boldly declares, with US backing, that the occupied areas are not in fact occupied territories at all but de facto and de jure, under the deal, integral territory of Israel. Last year, in a symbolic break with longstanding US policy, America recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, much to Mr Netanyahu’s satisfaction. An alternative Palestinian capital in the eastern suburbs of Jerusalem is suggested. Mr Abbas says Jerusalem is “not for sale”.
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