Many mainstream political ideas about the future of Palestine are primarily concerned with the containment of indigenous Palestinians and security for the Israeli settler state. The most recent manifestation of this was the Trump administration’s “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People.” This “vision” proposed nothing less than Palestinian capitulation in which Palestinians in the West Bank would be encased in a series of Bantustans and the Gaza Strip would remain a besieged enclave while the rights of Palestinians in exile, including those of refugees, would be forsaken.
Trump’s vision – effectively dictated by the Israeli right - does not radically break from what has previously been presented to Palestinians as possible futures. Rather, it follows a tradition of peace proposals over the past decades in which Palestinian futures are not premised on fundamental rights and Palestinian aspirations of sovereignty are disregarded. Some argue that the Trump vision is more candid than prior peace efforts in that it blatantly depicts what the US and Israel consider an acceptable form of Palestinian statehood: The map proposed by the vision document provides an accurate reflection of the current geopolitical reality on the ground.
The Palestinian leadership has responded weakly, continuing to adhere to a political line that has led the Palestinian people to their most vulnerable point in history since 1948. Moreover, Palestinian leaders have been misdirecting their hopes onto actors who have demonstrated over decades that they do not have the political will to deliver on Palestinian rights such as the European Union and its member states. They have also been pursuing unpopular and unstrategic political dialogues, such as the PLO-sanctioned “communication committee” that met with Israeli politicians from the Israeli Labor Party (Meretz) in Tel Aviv in February 2020. The latest declaration by Abbas to cancel all agreements with Israel and America follows previous similar declarations and threats which amounted to very little. The extent to which this is carried out this time remains to be seen.
Despite these obstacles, Palestinians can use the Trump “vision” to break free of the political frameworks that have limited their rights and freedoms for so long. There are many ways in which the impending disaster of further Israeli annexation and dispossession can be countered and transformed into opportunities. Here are just three.
This article was originally published on the website of Al-Shabaka.
Yara Hawari is the Senior Palestine Policy Fellow of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. She completed her PhD in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, where she taught various undergraduate courses and continues to be an honorary research fellow. In addition to her academic work which focused on indigenous studies and oral history, she is also a frequent political commentator writing for various media outlets including The Guardian, Foreign Policy and Al Jazeera English.