Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is the deal of the century, for the extreme right

Raquel Cohen and Ilana Samuel | Class of 2023

You’ve probably never heard of the town of Barta’a. I certainly hadn’t until I visited in the summer of 2018. Barta’a is a Palestinian town bisected by the Green Line, which divides Israel proper from the occupied West Bank. Consequently, Barta’a is split into East and West; East Barta’a belongs to the Palestinians and West Barta’a to Israel. As is often the case, a split city creates complications for the residents. Palestinians cannot cross the barrier, which is controlled by Israeli soldiers and riddled with checkpoints. Family members are separated, unable to visit relatives that live mere miles away from one another. An American Jew like myself can travel through at will. I was privileged enough to be able to easily, comfortably and unconsciously cross from West Barta’a into East Barta’a, where we heard from families about the anguish they experience at their inability to visit their family members on the other side of the line. Their stories were unimaginable and for the first time, I understood the daily limits and restrictions imposed upon Palestinians by the Israeli government. More than anything, I left embarrassed to call this country my home. This is one example among many of the daily injustices of occupation. Palestinians have lived like this under Israeli control for 52 years. When I first read the details of Trump’s alleged peace plan, I was reminded of this experience.

Calling this a peace plan is laughable, and you only need to look at its origins to see why. The White House has had no direct talks with the Palestinians for over two years. The three authors of the plan—Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman—are all former Trump-connected real estate tycoons or corporate lawyers with deep connections to Israel’s far-right settlement movement. Tom Hamburger, Rachel Bade and Ashley Parker of the Washington Post in 2019 identified Jared Kushner as “The senior White House official whose security clearance was denied last year because of concerns about foreign influence, private business interests and personal conduct,” which is troubling considering he was entrusted with the responsibility of creating the plan.

So if it’s not a peace plan, what is it? When you look at this deal honestly, it’s clear that this extremist proposal empowers Israel’s government to illegally annex major parts of Palestinian land in the West Bank. The government’s “Peace-to-Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People,” released in January of this year, proposes that Israelis are legally permitted to continue to live in Palestinian territory and retain their Israeli citizenship. This would further extinguish hope for a Palestinian state and condemn millions of Palestinians to live in isolated enclaves surrounded by Israeli territory without full civil or political rights.

Annexation enshrines into law the reality of Barta’a, furthering the inequality that permeates Palestinian life. It’s a human rights disaster, an ongoing catastrophe for Palestinians and—importantly for those who care about Israel—it undermines Israel’s core status as a truly democratic homeland for the Jewish people.

As members of J Street U at WashU, a pro-peace, anti-occupation campus movement, we will not accept this. We are currently working on a campaign to reform the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) platform on Israel and Palestine. Although the DNC has stated that they support a solution to the conflict that includes a Palestinian and Israeli state, there is no language opposing Israeli occupation or annexation of Palestinian territory in their platform. We are calling on support from students and progressive campus groups to help us advocate for a future we can be proud of.

To join our campaign—and to stand up for the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and dignity—sign our petition: www.JStreet.org/platform .

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