Palestinians vs. Trump: The Battle Begins
By Bassam Tawil
Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.
Over the past year, the Palestinians have managed to keep under wraps their true feelings about US President Donald Trump and his Middle East envoys and advisors. In all likelihood, they were hoping that the new US administration would endorse their vision for “peace” with Israel.
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas ensured that his spokesmen and senior officials spoke with circumspection about Trump and his Middle East advisors and envoys. The top brass of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah felt it was worth giving Trump time to see if he was indeed gullible enough to be persuaded to throw Israel under the bus and fork over their demands.
Well, that bus has long passed.
The Palestinians are now denouncing Trump and his people for their “bias” in favor of Israel. Even more, the Palestinians are openly accusing the Trump administration of “blackmail” and of seeking to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.” To top off the tone, the Palestinians are insinuating that Trump’s top Jewish advisors and envoys — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman — are more loyal to Israel than to the US.
The Palestinians’ unprecedented rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration should be seen as a sign of how they plan to respond to the US president’s plan for peace in the Middle East, which has been described as the “ultimate solution.” Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.
The Palestinian tone makes it clear that the Palestinian leadership and people have already relegated Trump’s peace plan to the trash-bin as nothing more than Israeli-American conspiracy, in collusion with some Arab countries, to impose a solution on the Palestinians and “liquidate” their cause.
To them, the “real” Trump is now apparent. This is how one Palestinian political analyst, Dr. Mazen Safi, reacted to Trump’s proposed peace plan and what he perceives as continued US support for Israel. “The US president and his administration have removed the mask from their face,” he stated. “They are paving the way for a new Israeli aggression on our people and moving the region toward an explosion.”
So what is really behind the Palestinian outrage with the Trump administration?
First, the Palestinians reject the idea of “regional peace” between Israel and Arab countries. The Palestinians maintain that peace between Israel and the Arab countries should come only after, and not before, the Palestinian issue is resolved. The Palestinians fear that any peace agreements between Israel and the Arab countries would come at their expense.
Echoing this fear, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, which often reflects the views of the Palestinian Authority leadership, pointed out that the recent Arab League foreign minsters’ meeting in Cairo chose to focus on the Iranian and Hezbollah “threat,” breaking from the long-standing traditional obsession of the Arabs with the Palestinian issue. The Palestinians, according to the paper, feel abandoned by their Arab brothers.
“The Arab League meeting in Cairo came out with strong positions against the Iranian threat and didn’t hesitate to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group,” Al-Quds complained in an editorial. “The meeting ignored the Palestinian cause. We are facing new Arab alliances against Iran, all under American pressure. This will have a negative impact on our cause.”
The Palestinian daily went on to lambast the floating Trump peace plan. It stated that the proposed plan, as published in various media outlets, “Doesn’t serve our interests and aspirations.”
Second, the Palestinians are furious with US threats to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington. They see the threat as an attempt to blackmail them not file charges of war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians also see the threat as an attempt to force them to resume peace talks with Israel unconditionally.
“The US threat to close the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington shows disrespect for the Palestinian rights and blind bias in favor of Israel,” Al-Quds said in the same editorial. “It also coincides with growing hollow talk about a US peace plan that has been endorsed by President Trump.”
Third, the Palestinians are now openly talking about Trump’s Jewish advisors and envoys and their “influence” on him and his administration’s policies. This is something that Palestinian Authority officials had refrained from mentioning in the past year because it rings of out-and-out anti-Semitism. Now, however, Palestinian officials and political analysts do not seem to have a problem talking about the influence of the “Jewish lobby” on Trump’s decision-making process and policies.
Hassan Al-Batal, a political analyst closely associated with the Palestinian Authority, referred in a recent article to what he called “the three Jewish pillars of the Trump peace plan – Trump’s son-in law (Kushner), Middle East envoy (Greenblatt) and the US Ambassador to Israel (Friedman).”
Al-Batal expressed “regret” that the recent meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers chose to condemn Hezbollah and Iran. “Palestine is currently witnessing a crisis with Washington,” he said.
Bassam Abu Sharif, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, went as far as referring to Trump’s Jewish advisors as a “dangerous clique.”
Abu Sharif said that he had no doubt that “what Kushner and his dangerous clique are planning is destructive and inhumane.” The US, he charged, has one major goal: to take full control of the Middle East and steal its resources for once and for all. This requires — according to their scheme — the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.”
Another political analyst, Talal Okal, who is also linked to the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, accused the Trump administration of “misinformation” and attempting to “blackmail” the Palestinians. Referring to the US demand that the Palestinians refrain from filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court and threatening to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, Okal wrote:
“The US administration is practicing blackmail against the Palestinian leadership by demanding that the Palestinians engage in unconditional negotiations with Israel and that the Palestinians refrain from pursuing war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. It’s obvious that the Trump administration is practicing a policy of misinformation.”
Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib claimed that the Trump administration was preparing to blame the Palestinians for the failure of the next peace process. The Palestinians, Habib said, “must be united in facing all forms of American-Israeli blackmail. The US administration’s threat to shut down the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington calls into question its ability to play the role of a fair and honest mediator.”
In an article entitled “Cheap American Blackmail,” columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghul complained: “The US administration is once again ignoring Palestinian rights and interests. It’s shamelessly and flagrantly seeking to confiscate the Palestinians’ independent decision-making process.”
Al-Ghul, too, made a reference to Trump’s Jewish team:
“The team surrounding Trump, which is in collusion with Israel, is acting in a way that contradicts what the Palestinian leadership wants — to maintain bridges with the US. The American blackmail of the Palestinian leadership is cheap and miscalculated.”
This conspiracy theory, which claims that Trump’s team cares more about Israel than US interests, is repeated in a statement by Fatah: “The US political blackmail contravenes international laws and resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue in particular and the peace process in general. This US position endorses the Israeli policy to end the two-state solution.”
The Palestinians’ rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed “ultimate solution.”
The Palestinians want it to be seen as a plan concocted by a few Jewish officials in the Trump administration who are more loyal to Israel than their own country, the US.
These officials, the Palestinians argue, have endorsed the position of the Israeli government and serve as its mouthpiece. That is why, they argue, the Palestinians are unable to accept a plan that is in effect a “Jewish-American conspiracy to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”
The Palestinians are also preparing the stage to accuse some Arab countries of “collusion” with this “conspiracy” — putting them on a collision course with Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian message to the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, should be seen as a warning shot: Collaborate with the Trump administration in the alleged scheme at your peril.
The anti-Trump Palestinian stance is sounding the death-knell for US administration’s effort to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians — by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.
Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.