Trump/Netanyahu Diplomacy: Orientalism by any Other Name

1 Feb

[Prefatory Note: Based on Javad Heiran-Nia’s Interview (1 Feb 2020) on ‘the deal of the century.’]

Trump/Netanyahu Diplomacy: Orientalism by Any Other Name

1-Trump announced at the unveiling of the Deal of the Century, insisting that these proposals are a just plan for peace. Do you think that this plan serves Palestinian interests?


This so-called contribution to ‘peace’ requires Palestine to give up its most fundamental rights, and accept a permanent condition of subjugation and victimization. It is framed in such a one-sided pro-Israel manner as if designed to ensure its instant and overwhelming rejection by Palestinian government representatives and by Palestinian public opinion. The plan is nothing other than a thinly disguised geopolitical power play as overseen by Netanyahu and Trump to promote their own political agendas and safeguard their leadership positions, which are currently under fire in both Israel and the United States.

The Trump Plan perpetuates, institutionalizes, deepens, and seeks to validate the current Israeli apartheid state, and also purports to extend legal protection by conferring Israeli sovereignty to land-grabs of those Palestinian territories that have languished under occupation and a variety of Israeli encroachments ever since 1967. The plan reduces Palestinian legitimate presence from the 22% under occupation after the 1967 War to a 15% remnant, essentially the urban Palestinian communities in the West Bank and some uninhabitable land in the western Negev.



2-One of Trump’s goals for unveiling the plan is to help Netanyahu get rid of his internal troubles. Does this help Netanyahu get into power in Israel, given his possible trial?


It seems to express the view, likely to be popular with some voters in Israel, that Netanyahu was able to twist Trump’s arm, as no other Israeli politician could have done, sufficiently to achieve almost everything that the Zionist Movement ever dreamed of achieving—a de facto one-state solution that permanently submits all of Palestine to the direct and indirect control of Israel, declared by the Israeli Basic Law in 2018 to be exclusively the nation-state of the Jewish people, obliterating the rights and equal standing of the non-Jewish minorities. What is called ‘a state’ in the plan’s text is not a state as understood in diplomacy, as it is denied the elemental rights of a sovereign state under international law, and commits the Palestinians living under occupation to permanent Gaza-like conditions and leaves the more than five million Palestinian refugees out in the cold, denying their right of return to wherever their former residences were located.



3-What should the Palestinians do to counter this plan?

Raise their voices at the UN and elsewhere to make clear that the plan is a farce and a fraud, and worse, an international crime; demonstrate with resolve and telling slogans, including shaming the Arab countries that showed support for the deal; encourage the BDS Campaign to exert maximum pressure; ask governments and the UN to impose sanctions; seek legal confirmation of Palestinian rights at the World Court in The Hague; insist upon a new diplomatic framework to address the Israel/Palestine conflict free from the distorted and absurdly biased leadership provided by the United States over many years, including the pre-Trump period. It is clearer than ever that Palestinian rights will only be achieved by determined struggle, by isolating Israel, by global solidarity pressures, and by holding the Israeli government and its leaders accountable for imposing criminal policies.


4-Why have Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt agreed to this plan?


Two main reasons: 1) these Arab governments are threatened by any democratizing movement, especially among Arabs, and fear that the achievement of Palestinian self-determination will destabilize their own oppressive governing arrangements; 2) to ensure continuing support for their anti-Iranian and Sunni regional priorities from the Trump presidency.


Such agreement by governing elites is not at all a reflection of popular sentiments in these countries, whose peoples continue to be strongly supportive of the Palestinian struggle, but helpless to influence their autocratic governments.



  1. 5. This plan is in contradiction with UN resolutions and there has been no consultation with the Palestinian side. How is the US and Israel going to accept Palestine?


The Trump Plan not only ignores international law, it makes proposals that flagrantly and defiantly violate such basic provisions as the prohibition on acquiring territory by force reaffirmed in Security Council Resolution 242. Also, by institutionalizing an oppressive governing arrangement that relies on racial discrimination, the plan institutionalizes apartheid, which is defined as ‘a crime against humanity’ in Article 7(j) of the Rome Statute that controls the operations of the International Criminal Court.


Israel and the U.S. will first have to agree to dismantle the apartheid elements of the Israeli state as a vital precondition for diplomatic progress toward a sustainable and just peace that reflect a commitment to the equality of Jews and Arabs, of Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Without satisfying this precondition for a peace process, it is delusionary to expect an end to a conflict over land and rights that has gone on for more than a century.



  1. 6. While Trump calls the plan fair, it has violated the rights of the Palestinian people. Is this plan feasible?


It is a plan so manifestly unfair as to be best interpreted as designed to fail, an outcome already prefigured by near universal Palestinian rejection. As such, the Trump/Netanyahu approach apparently relies on its capacity to impose a solution on the Palestinian people, and label it ‘peace.’ Seen more realistically, the plan is a naked attempt to declare unilaterally an Israeli victory and to make the world believe that the Palestinian struggle has become a lost cause, hoping that a kind of bribery provision to the effect that if Palestinians will admit defeat and make a formal declaration of political surrender, their life will become better if measured by living standards. The arrangements offered to the Palestinians as a whole resemble what the people of Gaza have endured since 2007 and what was attempted by South African apartheid in his latter stages through the establishment of encircled, powerless bantustans in remote areas of the country where the African population was required to live in misery and humiliation. Such schemes in the post-colonial world are recipes for violent struggle, and should not be confused with genuine attempts to move by mutual agreement from war to peace or oppression to constitutional democracy. The ‘deal of the century’ turns out to be Orientalism on steroids!



9 Responses to “Trump/Netanyahu Diplomacy: Orientalism by any Other Name”

  1. Beau Oolayforos February 1, 2020 at 10:46 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Under (3), countermeasures, we could also add what has likely been going on for a long time: work closely with the substantial Jewish Israeli population who genuinely want peace. Just as the majority of Americans don’t support Trump, there must be millions of Israelis who despise the Likud.

    I especially like your penultimate paragraph – an indispensable starting point. The future state of Israel/Palestine will be built on equal rights for all, and the welcoming home of all refugees. But it evidently cannot happen without a sea-change in American policy…methinks I see that log-jam breaking.

  2. ray032 February 1, 2020 at 10:55 am #

    The Times of Israel reports Today,
    ‘Backing Abbas, Arab League unanimously rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan’

    The Arab League on Saturday unanimously rejected US President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East plan, calling it “unfair” to Palestinians.

    The pan-Arab bloc said in a statement that it “rejects the US-Israeli ‘deal of the century’ considering that it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”

    Arab leaders also vowed “not to… cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan.”

    Does this mean Trump can kiss goodbye to the $50 Billion he promised Sawdi Arabia and the other Arab States would pay to the Palestinians if they unconditionally surrender Palestine to the Jewish State?

    Just before the start of WWII, when England lost Empire, the 1939 British White Paper was explicit.

    It has been urged that the expression “a national home for the Jewish people” offered a prospect that Palestine might in due course become a Jewish State or Commonwealth. His Majesty’s Government do not wish to contest the view, which was expressed by the Royal Commission, that the Zionist leaders at the time of the issue of the Balfour Declaration recognised that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the Declaration. But, with the Royal Commission, His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. That Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State might be held to be implied in the passage from the Command Paper of 1922 which reads as follows

    “Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that `Palestine is to become as Jewish as England is English.’ His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated …. the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the (Balfour) Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded IN PALESTINE.”

    But this statement has not removed doubts, and His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State. They would indeed regard it as contrary to their obligations to the Arabs under the Mandate, as well as to the assurances which have been given to the Arab people in the past, that the Arab population of Palestine should be made the subjects of a Jewish State against their will.

  3. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka February 1, 2020 at 11:20 am #

    Richard’s is a fiery indictment and a strategy for a fightback to which I would only add two elements: a united front of Palestinians and a leveraging of the return of Putin’s Russia to the Middle East. So long as the Palestinian organizations cannot establish a single bloc or a coordinating body, I do not think the strategy outlined here can be effectively taken forward.

    • Richard Falk February 3, 2020 at 3:14 am #

      Dayan: I agree that both of these elements should be explored, and I should
      have mentioned them, but both are highly problematic as sources of real geopolitical
      rebalancing. This is just an immediate reaction. I will think more, better.
      Warm greetings from London, Richard

  4. QCPal February 2, 2020 at 2:27 am #

    Reblogged this on QCpal.

  5. truthaholics February 2, 2020 at 5:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “What should the Palestinians do to counter this plan?
    Raise their voices at the UN and elsewhere to make clear that the plan is a farce and a fraud, and worse, an international crime; demonstrate with resolve and telling slogans, including shaming the Arab countries that showed support for the deal; encourage the BDS Campaign to exert maximum pressure; ask governments and the UN to impose sanctions; seek legal confirmation of Palestinian rights at the World Court in The Hague; insist upon a new diplomatic framework to address the Israel/Palestine conflict free from the distorted and absurdly biased leadership provided by the United States over many years, including the pre-Trump period. It is clearer than ever that Palestinian rights will only be achieved by determined struggle, by isolating Israel, by global solidarity pressures, and by holding the Israeli government and its leaders accountable for imposing criminal policies.”

  6. Mike 71 March 5, 2020 at 4:44 am #

    Does Palestinian intransigence serve Palestinian interests? Rejection of realistic options (1947 Partition under UNGAR 181, 2008 Olmert government offer) reinforce in Palestinian statelessness. Refusal to make a reasonable offer, or counter-offer leads to hopelessness. Rejection of the Trump plan not only institutionalizes the status-quo, but also frustrates the creation of a minority “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime” over a majority Israeli Jewish population. The infamous “Three Noes” of the 1967 Arab League Khartoum Conference in effect ceded captured land to Israel, which had offered to trade most of it for peace in the context of a two state solution. As no rational belligerent would give up land to an adversary during wartime, the rejection. of the Trump Plan reiterates the forfeiture of the land under the “Three Noes.” While International Law condemns “wars of aggression” for the purpose of acquiring territory, as the Arab League wars against Israel in 1947, 1967 and 1973, it is silent on land captured and retained as “Buffer Zones,” in “defensive wars of necessity,” such as during the Soviet “Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)” and retained until the Soviet dissolution in 1991.

    The issue is not whether there will be a single state, but whether it will be a majority ruled state, rather than a minority ruled “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime.” Like the former “Apartheid South Africa,” once ruled by a 10% “White Supremacist Apartheid Regime” over a 90% Black and Mixed Race majority, a minority “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime” would consist of a 20% Palestinian minority ruling over a 75% Jewish majority. How that would differ from the former “Apartheid South Africa,” Palestinians refuse to explain. Just as South Africans are entitled to majority rule in their nation, Israelis are entitled to the same in theirs . Having consistently rejected statehood within the context of the two state solution, there is no “Palestine,” having no defined, or recognized borders, or a unified government, while Israel’s borders are defined by peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan and a U.N. determination that Israel no longer possesses territory previously acquired in the “First Lebanon War (1982-2000).” Like the 2018 Basic Law declaring Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, other nations may define themselves as the nation-state of the Chinese people (Peoples’ Republic of China), French people (Republic of France), or Canadian people (Canada). Palestinians, having consistently rejected statehood within. the context of the two state solution, cannot make that declaration.

    Palestinians are not democratically ruled; “Palestinian Authority President for Life” Mahmoud Abbas is now in the 16th year of the four year term to which he was elected in January 2005. He abolished the Palestinian Legislature and promised elections for 2019 have yet to take place. Ismael Haniyeh and Yoyo Sinwar of Hamas have never faced voters at the ballot box. Palestinians are ruled under the thumbs of two feuding self-appointed elites, as are the Royal families of Saudi Arabia, Oman and the U.A.E.

    What should Palestinians do? Either make a reasonable counter-offer, or re-engage in direct negotiations with Israel, which they ended in 2014. U.N. Resolutions are merely suggestions having no force of law, unless enacted in treaties. Palestinian rejection of UNGAR 181 left them stateless, while Israeli acceptance led to the 1949 recognition and admission as a U.N. nation-state member. The World Court and I.C.C. have no jurisdiction over those nations which do not voluntarily accept their jurisdiction. “BDS” is constrained by state laws barring contracting with the boycotters (currently 28 states, plus the Federal government). Much of the world presently imposes sanctions on Hamas, Hezbollah and the Palestinian. Authority (for its “Pay for Slay” subsidies for deceased, or incarcerated terrorists and their families, prohibited under the “Taylor Force Act,” named for an American veteran murdered by a terrorist while visiting Israel).

    Why have Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt, among others, engaged with Israel, often “under the table?” They see Iranian hegemony and support for terrorism as a far greater threat to their sovereignty than Israel and the Palestinian Imperial project a mere sideshow to more pressing security concerns. They also see Israel as a source of technology and potential trade

    As a nation-state member of the U.N., Israel may invoke Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, recognizing an “inherent right of individual, or collective self-defense.” Gaza and the Palestinian. Authority, being “non state” terrorist entities, may not invoke that right. Under the International Law Doctrine of Uti Possidetis, Israel may retain. land captured in “defensive wars of necessity,” until possession. is modified by treaty. See: (Latin: As you possess, you may possess henceforth) Note that in. 1979, Egypt rejecting the “Three Noes,” negotiated a peace agreement with Israel, and after a withdrawal period, was able to resume sovereignty over the Sinai Peninsula.

    UNSCR 242 provides a route to peace; it requires:

    “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and the right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from. threats or acts of force.”

    Israel is a state within the definition of UNSCR 242, while Gaza and the Palestinian Authority are funding “non state entities.” Furthermore the founding documents of Hamas and the P.L.O. call. for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from their ancestral homeland of three thousand years. The Palestinian attempt to impose a minority “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime” will fail. Rejection the Trump plan will result in the final demise of the Palestinian Imperial project at the end of the four year time frame for its implementation. Note that Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat was interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on February 9, 2020, in which he complained that he lost his job as negotiator to Jared Kushner. That may have been because “President for Life” Abbas excluded himself from participation in the negotiation of the plan, ensuring that Mr. Erekat would have no role in its development. Mr. Erekat admitted that he favored a tow state solution, but that it was a minority position within. the Palestinian Authority, thus he had no authority to bind the majority in any agreement.

    See the following:
    (Every time Palestinians say ‘No,’ they lose, Bret Stephens
    (Palestinian Fantasy Blocks Mideast Peace, Nolan Finley


  1. Trump/Netanyahu Diplomacy: Orientalism by any Other Name | | truthaholics - February 2, 2020

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