Don­ald Trump’s reck­less acts al­low Is­rael to act with­out shame or re­straint

The Guardian - Journal - - News -

It is in­ex­cus­able for soldiers of a mil­i­tary, es­pe­cially those un­der demo­cratic civil­ian con­trol, to shoot and kill pro­test­ers, al­most all of whom were un­armed, and who pose no cred­i­ble threat. Yet at the bound­ary be­tween Gaza and Is­rael yes­ter­day Is­raeli soldiers seem to have done just that. It should make Is­raelis quail that demon­stra­tors were sprayed with live am­mu­ni­tion with ap­par­ent im­punity. There were dozens of deaths and hun­dreds of maim­ings among the Pales­tini­ans who had marched to the bor­der to make a point about their right to re­turn to their an­ces­tral homes. Is­rael’s army evinced no shame in com­mit­ting what looks like a war crime. These are se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions. Yet they were greeted with lit­tle more than a shrug. By blockad­ing Gaza, Is­rael im­pris­oned 2 mil­lion peo­ple be­hind barbed wire and mil­i­tary tow­ers. Is­rael treated the vi­o­lence as a jailer might a prison riot: a tragic fault of the in­mates.

This is a dan­ger­ous mind­set for Is­raelis to em­brace.

Yet they have done so be­cause the ex­treme right in

Is­rael, and most of the present gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, nur­ture the idea that Is­rael can, through its vastly su­pe­rior mil­i­tary force, end the na­tional as­pi­ra­tions of the Pales­tini­ans. These politi­cians take suc­cour from US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has made good on his prom­ise to recog­nise Jerusalem as the cap­i­tal of Is­rael. Yes­ter­day Mr Trump’s am­bas­sador, who gave money to Jew­ish far-right groups in Is­rael, opened his na­tion’s new em­bassy in Jerusalem. This is a reck­less and provoca­tive step that will harm the prospects for peace. Like the is­sue of refugees, set­tle­ments and bor­ders, the sta­tus of Jerusalem is un­fin­ished busi­ness. No state is in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised as hav­ing sovereignty over Jerusalem. Its sta­tus was meant to be de­ter­mined through ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In sid­ing with Is­rael Mr Trump sig­nalled the end of any pre­tence that his ad­min­is­tra­tion might be an hon­est bro­ker in the con­flict. Any peace talks over­seen by Mr Trump’s team are likely to fail be­fore they be­gin. The US pres­i­dent will learn what hap­pens when the facts he has cre­ated on the ground col­lide with re­al­ity. What will hap­pen to the 300,000 Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in east Jerusalem? Are they all to be herded into en­claves and de­prived of their hu­man rights, their land con­fis­cated? Will this be done be­cause of the “truth, peace and jus­tice” that Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Is­rael be­lieved in as he wel­comed the US am­bas­sador to Jerusalem? Mr Trump and Mr Ne­tanyahu have gal­vanised a peo­ple who had been steeped in de­spair.

In tak­ing Jerusalem off the ta­ble, the only in­vi­o­lable de­mand Pales­tini­ans feel they have left is the right of re­turn. Pales­tini­ans see the flight or ex­pul­sion of refugees at the time of the cre­ation of Is­rael 70 years ago this week as their catas­tro­phe or nakba. Is­raelis re­tort that im­ple­men­ta­tion of the right of re­turn is in­com­pat­i­ble with the sur­vival of a demo­cratic Jew­ish ma­jor­ity state. The is­sue is now on the lips of every Pales­tinian. The con­flict in the Holy Land is not a zero-sum game, where there is just one win­ner. The op­po­site is more likely to be true. Ei­ther both will fail – and con­tinue with one civil­ian pop­u­la­tion hu­mil­i­at­ing and ter­ror­is­ing the other. Or they find a way to live side by side in two states, one that af­fords each peo­ple their own in­de­pen­dence and se­cu­rity. If hap­pily such an out­come was achieved, it would make sense for west Jerusalem to be the cap­i­tal of Is­rael and east Jerusalem to be the Pales­tinian cap­i­tal. This is ob­vi­ous to ev­ery­one but Mr Trump and Mr Ne­tanyahu, who in­stead have ca­pit­u­lated to a vi­sion of bru­tal dom­i­na­tion over a be­nighted peo­ple.

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