“Netanyahu and Gantz—for us they’re the same.” “Right or left, nothing changes for the Palestinians.” This is what most people are saying in both Ramallah and Gaza. Their indifference is understandable. In 52 years of Israeli occupation, they have dealt with politicians of all stripes, and with Israeli governments of every political orientation: the result was, as we know, military offensives, colonization, the failure of the Oslo Accords, the powerlessness of the Palestinian Authority, and Donald Trump giving all of Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights to Israel on a silver platter.
Last week, Netanyahu, who has won another term in power, announced that a central goal of his future government would be the extension of Israeli sovereignty to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, both those gathered in homogeneous blocks and those that are isolated. He is thus planning to annex 60-70% of this Palestinian territory, in the certainty that Trump would recognize it as part of the Jewish state.
“He is justified in thinking that,” the analyst Ghassan al-Khatib tells us. “Netanyahu and Trump have certainly discussed the annexation of most of the West Bank by Israel on more than one occasion.” According to al-Khatib, the American peace plan, the “deal of the century” that the US administration is expected to announce this month, “will probably be postponed once again.” The reason for this, he says, “is not its rejection by the Palestinians. Netanyahu doesn’t want it either. It is very favorable to Israel, and against the aspirations of the Palestinians, but it might still be unacceptable to the extremist parties which will form the next right-wing governing majority in Israel.”
Al-Khatib concludes that Netanyahu “likes everything as it is now: he makes moves, and the White House approves.”
US Middle East policy expert Michelle Dunne gave a similar assessment on CNN, explaining that “the further Trump goes with these unilateral American measures … the more problems it causes for Arab allies. We know that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others as well, of course, as Egypt, which has a 40-year peace treaty with Israel, are inclined to be friendly with Netanyahu and cooperate in quiet ways and maybe publicly in small ways. But to go much further than that, I think that the more that Trump shows his hand, the more difficult it becomes for them to do.”
The US peace plan, which Trump’s son-in-law and US envoy to the Middle East Jared Kushner recently informally outlined to officials in several Middle Eastern capitals, rules out Palestinians’ right to independence, isolates Gaza and insists on the integration of millions of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
The latter provision is being categorically rejected by Beirut, is seen by Jordanian King Abdullah as a threat to stability, and even Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Israel against Iran, is having issues with supporting it.
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