Saturday, December 9, 2017

Toward the state-and-a-half solution

Still from Rona Yefman's 2006 video, "Pippi L. at Abu Dis", depicting Pippi Longstocking, strongest girl in the world, attempting to take down the Wall separating Israel from Palestine.

Has there ever been anything in history quite as overdetermined as Trump's insistence on recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital (he didn't say "undivided", which may be a clue that he or his writers didn't mean all that much anyway) of the Jewish state and agreement to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv at some point in the future? There are so many competing ways of explaining why it had to happen that it might be be more useful to ask what could have stopped it.

First there's Jared Kushner, designated unofficially by the Emperor-elect as Middle East Peace Tsar way back in November 2016—
Trump sang Kushner’s praises and mentioned how he aimed to be the president to hammer out Israeli-Palestinian peace. Asked if this free association meant his son-in-law would be his man for achieving this goal, he said, “I think he’d be very good at it. I mean, he knows it so well. He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.” (Haaretz)
—and formally appointed to the position sometime toward the end of March, along with responsibility for managing trade policy, ending the opioid crisis, reforming the Veterans Administration, modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency, getting broadband internet service to all of us, and being Lord High Everything Else.

But Kushner seems to think the way to make peace between Israel and Palestinians is for the Netanyahu government to win. At least he's been working to advance their side, as we just learned, since before the inauguration, starting with those calls he directed Mike Flynn to make around December 22 2016 to ambassadors of countries on the Security Council in the hope of torpedoing a resolution condemning Israel's illegal West Bank settlements after the Obama administration decided not to veto it—not just Russia's Sergey Kislyak, but also representatives of Uruguay, Malaysia, and Egypt. (I don't think much of the Intercept case that this constituted "collusion", especially since it was publicly known—Sean Spicer announced it—that Trump himself called Sisi and pressured him successfully into withdrawing the resolution, but New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal insisted on having the vote anyway.) So anyway, since it's been understood for decades that the final agreement in the peace process is going to be the one that resolves the status of Jerusalem, it makes sense, consistent with what he's done so far (encouraging the development of an alt-legal theory that the West Bank settlements aren't illegal), that Kushner should decide it now and pull the rug out from under the feet of those A-rabs.

Then, behind Kushner, there's the unhealthy face of the casino owner who gave Republicans $80 million for the 2016 election, $35 million earmarked for the use of the superpacs behind Trump, and another $5 million for the inauguration.
His biggest campaign contributor, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is showing growing impatience with Trump’s slowness in moving the embassy, which would be a provocation to Palestinians who claim Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state....
When the Trump White House hasn’t been quick enough to back Netanyahu or Adelson’s proposals, Adelson, who was reportedly in close contact with Kushner during the campaign, has been quick to express his displeasure.
Adelson, who once accused Palestinians of existing “to destroy Israel,” was reportedly “furious” with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in May for suggesting in a Meet The Press interview that moving the embassy should be contingent on the peace process. (Eli Clifton/+972)
Imagine somebody who feels you have to justify your existence: "Well, if you don't exist to destroy Israel, what do you exist for?"

And there there's the Christianists like Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow, his faith adviser Johnnie Moore, and Vice President Pence—the "Evangelical force behind Trump's Jerusalem speech", Haaretz calls them, who don't pretend to any interest in a peaceful resolution of the Palestine issue but rather hope to bring on the Last Battle as soon as they can, after which the Lord Jesus will reappear and whatever  Jews (and Muslims, of course) haven't converted yet will be cast into the lake of fire:
Glittering Christmas decorations festooned across the White House hallway enveloped Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence deliberately – if a bit awkwardly – placed directly behind the president’s shoulder, ensuring that no camera angle could leave him out of the picture.
It all felt carefully staged to send a strong message to Christian evangelical voters and their leaders that this is their victory and Trump is their man.
Trump showed he is behind the evangelical agenda not only when it comes to enacting domestic agenda – like opposing abortion, appointing conservative judges or saying “Merry Christmas” – but on foreign policy issues close to their heart as well.
And finally Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is pushing his own peace plan, which is secret, but Caroline Glick writing for the Jerusalem Post is pretty sure she knows how it works:
It reportedly proposes the establishment of limited Palestinian sovereignty over small portions of Judea and Samaria. The Gaza Strip, over which the Palestinians have had full sovereignty since Israel pulled its military forces and civilians out in 2005, would be expanded into the northern Sinai, thus providing economic and territorial viability to the envisioned Palestinian state. While the Palestinians would not receive sovereignty over Jerusalem, they would be able to establish their capital in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis.
The Palestinians won't get any of Jerusalem, but Egypt will cheerfully give them a bunch of their own land, the part currently infested by ISIS, which just a couple of weeks ago shot up a Sufi mosque there and killed 305 people. This is what might be called the "state-and-a-half solution", since the Palestinian part will be so entirely not a state that it's just fatuous to call it one—a collection of tiny Bantustans in the West Bank scattered among the state-subsidized, heavily policed, rich Jewish settlement, plus this somewhat mysterious Greater Gaza proposition.

The reason for keeping all the embassies in Tel Aviv hasn't been that all the countries in the world don't know where Israel keeps its capital. They know perfectly well.

The reason has been to tell the Palestinians that there's reason to hope for the Palestinian state; that the peace process is still going on, that it's not over yet, that the promises made to them will be fulfilled. That it's still possible to imagine some recognition of the all but about 100 of the years between 638 and 1948 (I worked up a bit of an outline history a couple of years ago), when the Al-Aqsa mosque and Haram al Sharif, the remains of the Herodian Second Temple and the Holy Sepulchre, were all administered by the local Arab authorities for the comfortable accommodation of all three religions and their numerous subsects. That all the stolen property from 1948 onward would be restored, fruit orchards and olive groves, homes and schools (please note that the terrible suffering of Jews was inflicted by Romans in 70 and 135 and Greek Christians in 629 and Latin Christians in 1099, never by their circumcised, pork-adjuring and idol-abhorring younger brothers), and there will be a Palestinian country.

All these views from Prince Jared to Prince Mohammed are to say, forget about it. There will be no Palestinian nation, there will be no Peace of the Brave. It was all a trick.

Oh, and one more theory. Trump did it to piss off Tillerson and Mattis for telling him he couldn't. All the presidents since Clinton, he likes to say, promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but he's the only one who's going to keep it. In fact,  putting it more clearly, he's the only one who's been unable to understand why he has to break the promise. It's not that hard, but he's really dumb. He can only think, "You're not the boss of me!"

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