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CLOSURE of the de-facto Palestinian embassy in Washington marks the latest Trump administration bid to bludgeon Palestinians into accepting that they will never have their own independent state.
President Donald Trump has no understanding of or sympathy for the national aspiration shared by all Palestinians, irrespective of affiliation, believing that he can impose an agreement.
The US president’s special adviser Jared Kushner tried in the summer to appeal to Palestinians over the head of President Mahmoud Abbas, telling them: “There have been countless mistakes and missed opportunities over the years and you, the Palestinian people, have paid the price.”
Abbas has certainly made mistakes, the most serious of which has been deferring too often to Washington.
But he would happily plead guilty to Kushner’s charge that “his talking points … have not changed in the last 25 years.”
As his spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah reaffirmed this week, “The road to peace is clear — commitment to the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. This is the road to any negotiations or any meetings.”
What Kushner views as failure to recognise a new situation, Palestinians and their supporters see as commitment to international law, laid down in United Nations security council resolution UNSCR 242 on November 22 1967 ordering Israel to remove its troops from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and other territories occupied earlier that year.
Israel claims to have annexed East Jerusalem, boasting of a reunited and eternal city as its capital, with only the Joint List of Arab parties and the Communist Party of Israel insisting, in line with 242, on recognition of East Jerusalem as capital of a sovereign Palestine based on the West Bank and Gaza.
Trump dressed up his rejection of international law, expressed in the decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, as a contribution to a non-existent peace process.
His justification was that, by “ruling” that Jerusalem belonged to Israel alone, he had removed it from issues to be discussed in his process, allowing both sides to move on to less problematic questions.
Palestinian refusal to bow the knee to such imperial arrogance has led to further US collective punishment measures against a people already living under military occupation.
Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s alone was followed by Washington’s unilateral reduction in the number of Palestinians regarded as refugees and the Trump administration pulling the plug on finance for UNRWA, the agency that cares for Palestinian refugees.
It is using health as a weapon, deciding, according to Israeli daily Haaretz at the weekend, to slash $20 million in foreign aid to support Palestinian patients requiring cancer and eye treatments in East Jerusalem hospitals.
This is on top of the $200m cut in Palestinian economic aid announced some weeks ago.
The UN has pleaded with other countries to help plug the shortfall, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar each pledging to contribute $50m.
Tel Aviv has been able to flout international law because of Washington’s encouragement.
The European Union has affected an unbiased stance, offering aid to the Palestinian people while also granting preferential trade to Israel, including imports from illegal West Bank settlements.
Its partiality is laid bare when refusing to sanction Israel for destroying even EU-funded Palestinian civilian targets.
Increasing public support for the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign against Israel will help Palestinians see that they are not alone.
It will also encourage politicians in the EU, including Britain, to reject Washington’s lawless stance and insist on respect for international law.
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