Oppose Trump’s Biased “Deal of the Century”

For the past two years, President Trump has been touting the release of his Middle East peace plan, which he has dubbed the ‘Deal of the Century.’ Trump has brazenly promoted this agreement as the blueprint to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Frustrated with Trump’s pro-Israel bias, the Palestinian leadership withdrew from talks in 2017, but that did not deter the Trump administration and the Israelis from foraging ahead. Given this context, it is safe to assume that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ will be a complete capitulation to Israeli designs for the region. It also fails to live up to the long-quoted promise of a two-state solution. For this reason, it is important that the Canadian government take a principled stance against this deal, if and when it is released. Officially, Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East as per a two-state solution. It is imperative that Canada stand by these policies.

Overview

For the past two years, President Trump has been touting the release of his Middle East peace plan, which he has dubbed the ‘Deal of the Century.’ Trump has brazenly promoted this agreement as the blueprint to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Frustrated with Trump’s pro-Israel bias, the Palestinian leadership withdrew from talks in 2017, but that did not deter the Trump administration and the Israelis from foraging ahead. [i] In early May 2019, details of the supposed ‘Deal of the Century’ were leaked in a report by Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper. In all respects, the leaked document paints a bleak picture of what is to come in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

First and foremost, the document proposes the creation of a new Palestinian entity, which would be called “New Palestine.”[ii] According to the supposed leak, all Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank would be annexed to Israel under the deal. New Palestine would therefore exist as a series of solitary cantons, surrounded by a sea of Israeli settlements.[iii] The new Palestinian “state”—if we can call it such—would operate as a series of disconnected municipalities. If this is true, the deal would effectively approve the creation of a Greater Israel comprising 88 percent of historic Palestine.[iv] The document also describes how the US, Europe, and Gulf states are expected to provide $30 billion over five years to help New Palestine set up.[v] This short-term stipend, however, does not change the fact that the small cantons of land awarded to the Palestinians are the most resource-poor areas. This virtually guarantees that Palestine will remain dependent on aid in perpetuity. The leaked document also outlines how Gaza would be opened to the neighboring Sinai territory. [vi] This land would be leased from Egypt, and would provide space for an airport and an industrial zone. A land corridor would also be built to connect Gaza to the West Bank—a project that would be partially financed by Canada.[vii] 

Regardless of how accurate these leaked details are, the plan’s contours are easy to imagine. Over the past year, both Israel and the US have not-so-quietly laid down the foundation for this deal. Israel, for one, has entrenched its apartheid rule over the Palestinians. Just prior to the April 2019 elections, Netanyahu vowed to annex Israel’s West Bank settlements if elected.[viii] He also attempted to introduce the Greater Jerusalem Bill, which would have manipulated the borders of Jerusalem so as to annex illegal Israeli settlements, while simultaneously excluding some 100,000 Palestinian residents.[ix] Israel has also embarked on the largest settlement construction binge in years, a practice that has resulted in massive illegal demolitions of Palestinian homes, as well as mass displacement.[x]

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has also set the stage for the unveiling of this deal – and, in doing so, it has proven that it is not an impartial mediator. This is made evident through Trump’s complete abandonment of UNRWA in August 2018[xi], as well as his punitive defunding of the Palestinian Authority.[xii] The Trump administration also moved the US embassy to Jerusalem[xiii], ordered the closure of the PLO office in Washington[xiv], and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.[xv] Meanwhile, the main architect of the deal, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has openly questioned Palestinians’ ability to self-govern.[xvi] Kushner, it should be noted, is also the former co-director of a group that funds the creation of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.[xvii] 

Given this context, it is safe to assume that Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ will be a complete capitulation to Israeli designs for the region. This plan will do nothing to end Israel’s ongoing violations of international law.  It also fails to live up to the long-quoted promise of a two-state solution: two states with contiguous borders, and peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. For this reason, it is important that the Canadian government take a principled stance against this deal, if and when it is released. Officially, Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East as per a two-state solution. It is imperative that Canada stand by these policies.

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe that it is possible to have a two-state solution that would be acceptable to the Palestinians without the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state?
  • Given the Trump administration’s demonstrated bias in support of Israeli interests, do you believe his “Deal of the Century” should be given legitimacy by the international community?
  • Do you believe that the US is capable of acting as a mediator between Israelis and Palestinians? Would you recommend a role for other countries?  For Canada?

If elected:

  • Will you work within caucus to ensure that the Canadian government takes a principled stand against this deal, if and when it is released?
  • Will you work within caucus to discourage the Canadian government from taking part in negotiations or conferences surrounding the implementation of this agreement?
  • Will you work within caucus to strengthen support for increased humanitarian and development aid to Palestinians?

Supporting Points

  • International Law and the UN Position. In December 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which, among other things, called for the intensification and acceleration of diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.[xviii] Building on this, the General Assembly passed resolution A/73/L.32 in November 2018. This resolution reaffirmed the need to realize a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, and called for the intensification of negotiations towards the conclusion of a final peace settlement.[xix] As evidenced by these two resolutions, the UN has repeatedly called for the negotiation of a just peace agreement in Israel-Palestine. Whatever shape this deal may take, however, it must respect international law and UN resolutions. Accordingly, there are a few major stipulations that can be made regarding a potential peace deal. First, the agreement cannot grant Israeli sovereignty over the illegal settlements. The Palestinian territories are considered “occupied territory” under international law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that it is illegal to transfer population to an occupied territory.[xx] As a result, Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under international law. This view has been supported by the International Court of Justice and numerous UN Resolutions, such as UNSC Resolution 446 (1979) and UNSC Resolution 465 (1980).[xxi] In this same vein, UNSC Resolution 242 (1967) should form the basis of any negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. This resolution, passed in the wake of the 1967 War, calls upon Israel to withdraw from the territories it illegally occupied in 1967—this includes the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.[xxii] In keeping with UNSC Resolution 242, and the countless other resolutions that echo it, any negotiated peace deal must be built upon Israel’s complete withdrawal from the territories it has occupied since 1967. The peace deal must also include a plan to terminate the blockade on Gaza. Israel’s continued blockade on the Gaza Strip, which restricts the movement of foodstuffs and aid, violates the Fourth Geneva Convention.[xxiii] Any peace agreement that maintains this blockade would therefore be in violation of international humanitarian law. The brokered agreement must also respect Palestinians’ Right of Return, which is protected under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [xxiv]  The Right of Return is an inalienable and binding universal right, which has been repeatedly affirmed by the UN.[xxv] Lastly, the negotiated peace deal cannot uphold the apartheid system that exists today in Israel. As it stands, Palestinians living in Israel proper do not enjoy the same rights and freedoms as Jewish Israelis. Any negotiated settlement that does not dismantle this two-tiered system is therefore in violation of countless international conventions on human rights and civil liberties.   
  • Canada’s Official Position. It should be assumed that in order for Canada to support a peace settlement, the proposed agreement would have to align with its policy on Israel-Palestine. Officially, Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace that includes the creation of a contiguous and sovereign Palestinian state.[xxvi] In keeping with international law, Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over the territories it has illegally occupied since 1967.[xxvii] It also recognizes that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and are thus illegal. Furthermore, Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, and affirms that the status of Jerusalem can only be resolved as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.[xxviii] Given the bias already displayed by the Trump administration, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which the ‘Deal of the Century’ would align with Canada’s policy on Israel-Palestine.

Recommendations for Canada

  • It is imperative that Canada hold firm on its official policy positions regarding Israel-Palestine. Canada must loudly condemn Trump’s biased deal, if and when it is released. Canada should also encourage its allies to denounce the agreement.
  • Canada must refrain from financing any of the deal’s initiatives, or from partaking in conferences associated with the deal.

 

[i] The Guardian. (December 22, 2017). Mahmoud Abbas calls on France to step up as he rejects US as peace broker. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/22/mahmoud-abbas-calls-on-france-to-step-up-as-he-rejects-us-as-peace-broker

[ii] Cook, J. (May 10, 2019). “Is leaked document Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century?’” Consortium News. Retrieved from https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/10/is-leaked-document-trumps-deal-of-the-century/

[iii] Cook, J. (May 10, 2019). “Is leaked document Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century?’” Consortium News. Retrieved from https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/10/is-leaked-document-trumps-deal-of-the-century/

[iv] Cook, J. (May 10, 2019). “Is leaked document Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century?’” Consortium News. Retrieved from https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/10/is-leaked-document-trumps-deal-of-the-century/

[v] Cook, J. (May 10, 2019). “Is leaked document Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century?’” Consortium News. Retrieved from https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/10/is-leaked-document-trumps-deal-of-the-century/

[vi] Cook, J. (May 10, 2019). “Is leaked document Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century?’” Consortium News. Retrieved from https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/10/is-leaked-document-trumps-deal-of-the-century/

[vii] Middle East Eye. (May 7, 2019). Israeli newspaper reveals leaked document of Trump’s ‘deal of the century.’ Retrieved from https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israeli-newspaper-reveal-leaked-document-trumps-deal-century

[viii] Holmes, O. (April 7, 2019). “Netanyahu vows to annex Jewish settlements in occupied West Bank.” The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/07/netanyahu-vows-to-annexe-jewish-settlements-in-occupied-west-bank

[ix] Odeh, M. (March 5, 2018). “Israel’s Greater Jerusalem bill.” Jurist. Retrieved from https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2018/03/israels-greater-jerusalem-bill/

[x] Al Jazeera. (January 2, 2019). Israeli settlement activity surged in Trump era: Monitoring group. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/israeli-settlement-activity-surged-trump-era-monitor-group-190102063008681.html

[xi] BBC News. (September 1, 2018). US ends aid to Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45377336

[xii] Cook, J. (June 15, 2018). “What’s in Trump’s ‘deal of the century’? The answers are in plain sight.” Middle East Eye. Retrieved from https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/whats-trumps-deal-century-answers-are-plain-sight

[xiii] Underwood, A. (May 16, 2018). “The controversial US Jerusalem embassy opening, explained.” Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2018/5/14/17340798/jerusalem-embassy-israel-palestinians-us-trump

[xiv] Al Jazeera. (September 10, 2018). “Trump administration announces closure of Washington PLO office.” Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/trump-administration-close-plo-office-washington-dc-180910064915646.html

[xv] Holmes, O. (May 22, 2019). “Israel plans to name settlement on occupied land after Trump.” The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/22/israel-plans-name-golan-heights-settlement-occupied-land-trump

[xvi] Qiblawi, T. (June 3, 2019). “Kushner casts doubt on Palestinians’ ability to self-govern.” CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/03/politics/kushner-palestinians-intl/index.html

[xvii] Riotta, C. (December 3, 2017). “Jared Kushner failed to disclose he led a foundation funding illegal Israeli settlements before U.N. vote.” Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/jared-kushner-disclosure-form-west-bank-settlements-israel-white-house-729290

[xviii] United Nations Security Council. (December 23, 2016). S/RES/2334 (2016).

[xix] United Nations General Assembly. (November 23, 2018). A/73/L.32: Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.

[xx] International Court of Justice. (2004). Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/131/131-20040709-ADV-01-00-EN.pdf

[xxi] International Court of Justice. (2004). Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory. Retrieved February 12, 2019, from https://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/131/131-20040709-ADV-01-00-EN.pdf

[xxii] United Nations Security Council. (November 22, 1967). S/RES/242 (1967). Retrieved from https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/7D35E1F729DF491C85256EE700686136

[xxiii] CJPME. (2010). The illegality of the Gaza blockade. Retrieved from https://www.cjpme.org/fs_087

[xxiv] Sayej, L. (2018). “Palestinian refugees and the Right of Return in international law.” Oxford Human Rights Hub. Retrieved from https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/palestinian-refugees-and-the-right-of-return-in-international-law/ 

[xxv] See: UNGA Resolutions 194 and 393; UNSC Resolutions 2535, 2452, and 3236.

[xxvi] Government of Canada. (n.d.) Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Retrieved from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng

[xxvii] Government of Canada. (n.d.) Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Retrieved from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng

[xxviii] Government of Canada. (n.d.) Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Retrieved from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng

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