Written by Jonathan Cook; Originally appeared at The Unz Review
Refugees are the final loose end in forcing Palestinians to accept Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ peace plan
The Trump administration’s decision to scrap all future aid payments to the main agency helping Palestinian refugees marks a new – and most likely disastrous – chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The US State Department said on Friday it would no longer continue its $360 million annual contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), depriving it of a third of its budget. US officials described the organisation as “irredeemably flawed”.
The move follows an announcement last week that Washington had slashed $200 million from other aid programmes for the Palestinians.
About five million Palestinians – many languishing for decades in refugee camps across the Middle East – rely on the agency for essential food, healthcare and education.
Other states in the Middle East have reason to be fearful. Jordan’s foreign minster, Ayman Safadi, warned on Saturday that the denial of aid would “only consolidate an environment of despair that would ultimately create fertile grounds for further tension”.
Jordan, which hosts two million Palestinian refugees, has called a meeting at the UN later this month, along with Japan, the European Union, Sweden and Turkey, to “rally political and financial support” for UNRWA.
Traditional American and European backing for the UN agency could be viewed as reparations for their complicity in helping to create a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland. That act of dispossession turned the Palestinians into the world’s largest stateless population.
Except there are few signs of guilt.
The handouts provided via the UN have served more like “hush money”, designed to keep the Palestinians dependent and quiet as western states manage a crisis they apparently have no intention of solving.
That was why the European Union hurriedly promised to seek alternative funds for UNRWA. It noted that the agency was “vital for stability and security in the region” – a stability that has enabled Israel to disappear the Palestinians, uninterrupted, for seven decades.
The Trump administration, by contrast, is more brazen about the new way it wishes to weaponise aid.
US officials have not concealed the fact that they want leverage over the Palestinians to force them to submit to Donald Trump’s long-promised “deal of the century” peace plan.
But there is a deeper and darker agenda afoot than simply reviving failed negotiations or pandering to the Trump administration’s well-known antipathy towards international institutions.
Over the past 25 years, peace talks have provided cover for Israel’s incremental takeover of what was supposed to be a future Palestinian state. In the words of Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi, while Israel and the Palestinians were discussing how to divide the pizza, Israel ate it all.
So Mr Trump’s team has, in effect, reverse-engineered a “peace process” based on the reality on the ground Israel has created.
If Israel won’t compromise, Mr Trump will settle the final-status issues – borders, Jerusalem and the refugees – in the stronger party’s favour. The only hurdle is finding a way to bully the Palestinians into acceptance.
In an indication of how sychronised Washington and Israel’s approaches now are, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, made almost identical speeches last week.
In an address to American Jewish leaders, Mr Friedman noted that a “different way of thinking” prevailed in the Middle East. “You can’t talk your way, you just have to be strong,” he said.
The next day, Mr Netanyahu reiterated that message. He tweeted: “The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive.”
That sounded uncomfortably like a prescription for the Palestinians’ future.
Israel has already carved out its borders through the ethnic cleansing campaigns of 1948 and 1967. Since then, it has mobilised the settlers and its military to take over almost all of the remnants of historic Palestine. A few slivers of territory in the West Bank and the tiny coastal ghetto of Gaza are all that is left for the Palestinians.
A nod from the White House and Israel will formalise this arrangement by gradually annexing the West Bank.
As far as Jerusalem is concerned, Mr Trump recognised it as Israel’s capital by moving the US embassy there in May. Now, even if it can be born, a Palestinian state will lack a meaningful capital and a viable economy.
The final loose end are the refugees.
Some time ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas surrendered their right – sanctioned in international law – to return to their former lands in what is now Israel.
Instead, the question was whether Israel would allow the refugees encamped in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to move to the West Bank and Gaza and become citizens of a Palestinian state.
But if Israel refuses to concede a Palestinian state, even that minimal ambition is doomed.
Israel and the US have an alternative solution. They prefer to dismantle UNRWA and disappear the Palestinians in the swelling tide of refugees spawned by recent western interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Aghanistan. On Sunday Mr Netanyahu welcomed what he called a US move to “abolish the refugee institution, to take the funds and really help rehabilitate the refugees”.
The US and Israel want the Palestinian refugees to fall under the responsibility of the UNHCR, the UN’s umbrella refugee agency – or better still, their host countries.
In a leaked email reported by Foreign Policy magazine this month, Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, wrote that it was time to “disrupt UNRWA”. He added that “sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there”.
Central to that disruption is stripping millions of Palestinians of their status as refugees. The Trump administration is due to publish a report later this month, according to Israeli media, that will propose capping the Palestinian refugee population at 500,000 – a tenth of the current number.
Mr Kushner has reportedly been leaning on Jordan to revoke the status of its two million Palestinian refugees, presumably in return for US compensation.
When UNRWA’s mandate comes up for renewal in two years’ time, it seems assured Washington will block it.
If there is no UNRWA, there is no Palestinian refugee problem. And if there are no refugees, then there is no need for a right of return – and even less pressure for a Palestinian state.
Israel and the US are close to their goal: transforming a political conflict governed by international law that favours the Palestinians into an economic problem overseen by an array of donors that favours Israel.
Come on guys, it’s only an opinion. Check the author:Jonathan Cook
Jonathan Cook.jpg Born 1965 (age 52–53) Buckinghamshire, England, UK Residence Nazareth, Israel Nationality British Citizenship British, Israeli Education B.A. (Hons), M.A. Alma mater Southampton University, Cardiff University, SOAS Occupation Writer, freelance journalist Website View from Nazareth Jonathan Cook (born 1965) is a British writer and a freelance journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, who writes about the Middle East, and more specifically, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Are you surprised: It comes from the Unz Review- another ‘progressive, good jew’. What the mice plan is destroyed by the cat. If this is “the deal of the century” then …. lots of things can happen. Some deals get broken, you know….
“Check out the author” … you say?
It looks pretty good to me. What are you trying to say about this distinguished author, who is a life long defender of Palestinian rights.? Don’t be a coward and waste our time with meaningless BS, that you probably don’t even understand yourself. I’ll bet you’re writing from a trailer parked on stolen land, up on one of those illegal hilltop West Bank settlements.
If anyone wants to find out more about this incredible journalists, Jonathan Cook , here is some more info from his web site:
He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006)
Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008)
Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008)
He has also contributed chapters and essays to several edited volumes on Israel-Palestine.
In 2011 Jonathan was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. The judges’ citation reads: “Jonathan Cook’s work on Palestine and Israel, especially his de-coding of official propaganda and his outstanding analysis of events often obfuscated in the mainstream, has made him one of the reliable truth-tellers in the Middle East.”
The same year, Project Censored voted a report by Jonathan, “Israel brings Gaza entry restrictions to West Bank“, one of the most important stories censored in 2009-10.
Jonathan’s reports and commentaries have appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, the Times and the New Statesman (London); The International Herald Tribune and Le Monde diplomatique (Paris); Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo); The National (Abu Dhabi); The Daily Star (Beirut); The Middle East Report and Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Washington); and The Irish Times (Dublin). He has contributed to many online sites, such as CounterPunch, Israeli Occupation Archive, Al-Jazeera.com and Electronic Intifada.
He has been a senior consultant and lead writer on two major reports by the International Crisis Group, a leading think-tank based in Washington and Brussels dealing with conflict resolution.
Back to Basics: Israel’s Arab Minority and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Extreme Makeover? (II): The Withering of Arab Jerusalem
Thanks for the response. No offence taken. The author might be the greatest journo ever, however don’t you think that this ‘defender of Palestinian rights’ is working on the “might is right” agenda? I will not explore any of the suggested sources as the very mentioning of Brussels of Washington implies more brainwashing. Thanks, but no, thanks. Any input on the topic at hand? Or we’ll play the ostich game- head in the sand everyone! It’s ok for israhell to take over Palestine. It’s ok for Trump to serve his masters. It’s ok for Kushner to promote more deaths and destruction. I don’t think so. Read it as bold and in caps.
Cook is obviously playing the Israel/US are strong the Arabs are feckless game, along the lines of the Borg resistance is futile line. While ignoring the regional strength of the Jews and their collaborators losing and losing badly right next door in Syria. The increasingly weakening, withheld and overridden US UNSC veto. And the Palestinian protection force forming up with a UN mandate.
It is about the content of the article, not the author per se. I am grateful he shed some light on the plans however, for how long is the World going to “smile and nod” to the crimes commited by israhell, facilitated by usa and nato?
It’s both, you don’t become a citizen of Israel without playing their game. Controlled opposition serving the same cause is as old as politics. Cook’s defeatist attitude, as in accept defeat and go away quietly, and his Israeli citizenship put his criticism of Israel and the Arabs in a more accurate context to assess his work from. He completely ignores all that the Palestinians have done at the UN and elsewhere, and continue to do to resist the Jew’s crimes, and instead blames the victim for the crimes committed by the criminal. Rather than offer solutions, he offers condemnation of the victims.
Kicking the can further down the road.
I dont see a “solution” in ripping Palestinians of refugee status, but I can see Trump´s “saving money” and the century old Jewish “economic strangulation”.
But the Palestinians the 5 million will still be there, their history will still be there for another 70 years, the anger will still be there both in Palestinians and people close whatever status they have.
So we are heading for another 70 years with creative destruction from Washington and London in ME.
Is the “Final Solution to the Palestine problem”…………….i listen it before………….
Big mistake. The US just lost even its pretence to neutrality in the Israeli land grab. When the US ruling elite finally awakens to the fact that the Zionist agenda harms rather than supports US interesrs, it will be powerless to play a part in a long overdue resolution. No one is going to care if legitimate US interests are protected in an inevitable solution.