Trump’s “vision” for Israel/Palestine
If the US is OK with Israeli annexing the West Bank, why is it sanctioning Russia for annexing Crimea?
At a ceremony in the East Room in the White House on 28 January 2020, President Trump unveiled his 181-page “vision” for Israel/Palestine to an audience of enthusiastic cheerleaders, many flown in from Israel for the occasion. While he spoke, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood by his side and afterwards he welcomed the President’s “vision” ecstatically.
And well he might. The “vision” was written for him, if not by him. According to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, it is the “product of more than three years of close consultations” between Trump, Netanyahu and their senior staff. Understandably, therefore, it gives Netanyahu almost everything he has ever wished for politically. In essence, the document is an agreement between the US and Israel about the future of Israel/Palestine.
Trump’s favours to Netanyahu
Of course, this is not the first incidence of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Israel, receiving political favours from President Trump. Already, under the Trump administration,
· in December 2017, the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and, in May 2018, moved the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv
· in August 2018, the US ended financial support for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees
· in September 2018, the US cut $25 million of financial support for 6 hospitals for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem
· in September 2018, the US closed the PLO office in Washington
· in February 2019, the US ended financial support to the Palestinian Authority
· in March 2019, the US recognised as Israeli sovereign territory the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (which Israel took over by force in 1967 and has subjected to military occupation ever since)
· in November 2019, the US declared that the 130+ Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Golan Heights are “not per se inconsistent with international law” (in the words of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo)
Perhaps, the US flagrantly breaching the nuclear deal it signed with Iran (and other states) should be added to this list. When he unveiled his “vision” on 28 January 2020, President Trump boasted:
“As everyone knows, I have done a lot for Israel: moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing — (applause) –- recognizing the Golan Heights — (applause) — and, frankly, perhaps most importantly, getting out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal. (applause)”
A much bigger favour to Netanyahu
Now, the President has done Netanyahu (and Israel) a much bigger favour - he has undertaken that the US will henceforth recognise a lot more Israeli-occupied territory as sovereign Israeli territory, this time territory East of the Green Line, that is, in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem).
In recent months, Netanyahu has said that he wanted to annex to Israel (a) the Jordan Valley and (b) areas surrounding the Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank. It is probably not a coincidence that annexations along these lines are at the heart of the President’s “vision” for Israel/Palestine - and there is no suggestion that Palestinians are to be consulted, let alone have a veto, about these annexations.
After the President unveiled his “vision”, Netanyahu responded ecstatically:
“This is a historic day. And it recalls another historic day. We remember May 14th, 1948, because on that day, President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel after our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared our independence. That day charted a brilliant future.
“Mr. President, I believe that down the decades — and perhaps down the centuries — we will also remember January 28th, 2020, because on this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage. (Applause) …
“For too long — far too long — the very heart of the Land of Israel where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached, and our kings ruled, has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Well, today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie. (Applause)
“You are recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, large and small alike. (Applause)”
Israel seized the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) by military force in June 1967 and has colonised it relentlessly in the ensuing years transferring over 620,000 of its citizens across the Green Line into Jewish-only settlements.
If some or all of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) becomes sovereign Israeli territory on a permanent basis, then with the blessing of the US Israel will have acquired territory by military force in flagrant violation of the first principle of international law. The US can no longer complain about Russia annexing Crimea, not least because that was done with the consent of the people living there.
A false notion: Israel an occupier
This US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over first the Golan Heights and now parts of the West Bank was foreshadowed during the Trump presidential campaign by his advisory team on Israel. This consisted of Jason Greenblatt, who was until recently his chief negotiator on Israel/Palestine (along with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner), and David Friedman, who is now US Ambassador to Israel.
A joint statement by Greenblatt and Friedman on 2 November 2016 contained the following short but very significant sentence:
“The false notion that Israel is an occupier should be rejected.”
That principle has been implemented in respect of the Golan Heights and now in respect of part of the West Bank. In addition, it is reflected in US State Department documents, which no longer refer to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza and the Golan Heights as “the occupied territories”.
The internationally agreed position
The Security Council has always regarded the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) as Israeli occupied territory and never as territory belonging to the State of Israel. Thus, Security Council Resolution 2334 passed on 23 December 2016 specifically called upon UN member states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
The same is true of the International Court of Justice (“the principal judicial organ of the United Nations” in the words of the UN Charter). In its July 2004 Advisory Opinion Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory it left no doubt that Israel was the occupying power in the West Bank under international law:
“The territories situated between the Green Line … and the former eastern boundary of Palestine under the Mandate were occupied by Israel in 1967 during the armed conflict between Israel and Jordan. … All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.” (Paragraph 78)
All, or nearly all, states in the world (apart from Israel and the US) accept this UN position that the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) is Israeli occupied territory.
Most states also accept the UN position that, along with Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) should form the territory of a Palestinian state, with its capital in East Jerusalem, existing alongside Israel in its pre-1967 borders – and that any adjustments to the pre-1967 borders by way of land swaps must be agreed between Israel and Palestine. The EU has always been very firm on the latter point, saying:
“The EU will recognize changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, only when agreed by the parties.”
Of course, a “two-state solution” along these lines is not going to happen. It’s not going to happen because Israel has no intention of reversing its aggression of June 1967 and withdrawing from the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) so that a Palestinian state can be established. And there is no chance of sufficient external pressure being brought to bear on Israel to force it to withdraw – which is what should have been done in the wake of Israel’s aggression in June 1967.
A Palestinian “state”
Trump’s “vision” document does propose the creation of a Palestinian “state”, of a kind arrogantly dictated by the US and Israel. They have decreed that its territory would consist of Gaza plus those parts of the West Bank (about 50% of it) not already selected by them for annexation to Israel – and that it would have a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, not in Jerusalem itself.
Its West Bank territory would consist of a number of non-contiguous chunks, linked together by a network of roads, bridges and tunnels and surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel – and therefore with no access to the outside world except through Israeli-controlled territory.
At Israel’s insistence, the Palestinian “state” would be demilitarised, and Israel would retain the right to make armed incursions into its territory to ensure that it remained demilitarised and, in Israel’s opinion, non-threatening to Israel. Hamas and other paramilitary groups in Gaza would have to disarm, recognise the State of Israel (with its greatly expanded territory, presumably) and hand over control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority or “another national or international body acceptable to the State of Israel”, to quote from Trump’s “vision” document.
If this “state” were ever to come into existence, it would mean the continuation of Israeli occupation for Palestinians with Israel still in control of all the land between the Jordan and the Sea.
(For more on the US/Israel requirements for a Palestinian “state”, see the Endnote below)
Negotiations with Palestinians?
Responding to President Trump in the White House on 28 January, Netanyahu said:
“Mr. President, … because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed, I’ve agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan. (Applause)”
Later he qualified this by saying that Palestinians had to “agree to abide by all the conditions” in the “peace plan” (see Endnote below) before Israel would be prepared to “negotiate peace” with them.
Trump had earlier said that the territory he had allocated to a Palestinian “state” would “remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years” during which Palestinians can “negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood, and become a truly independent and wonderful state”.
None of this matters, of course, since the “peace plan” is completely unacceptable to Palestinian leaders and to the Palestinian public: an opinion poll carried out by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 94% of Palestinians were opposed to it (despite President Trump’s judgment that: “It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them.”).
Are annexations going to happen?
Are the proposed annexations going to happen? Almost certainly, they will, whether Netanyahu remains Prime Minister or is replaced by Benny Gantz. Palestinian opposition will count for nothing. Both Trump and Netanyahu made it clear on 28 January that the annexations are going ahead. Trump said:
“We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map [published in the “vision” document] into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved.”
In his response to Trump that day, Netanyahu said:
“Regardless of the Palestinian decision [to enter into negotiations], Israel will preserve the path of peace in the coming years. … At the same time, Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and to other areas that your plan designates as part of Israel and which the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel. (Applause) “
For obvious reasons, Netanyahu hoped that visible progress could be made on this prior to the Israeli General Election on 2 March. However, the Trump administration vetoed that and insisted that the joint US/Israel mapping committee first complete its work of defining precisely what territory is to be annexed. The committee has now been set up – it is headed by the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who explained that the US was anxious that the annexation process was completed properly in one go and the US didn’t have to recognise several incremental annexations. Needless to say, there are no Palestinian representatives on this committee that is to divide up their land.
It is possible that, after the election on 2 March, Netanyahu will be replaced as Prime Minister by Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party (who was formerly head of the Israeli military). Will that delay or prevent the annexations going ahead? That’s unlikely, since from the outset he has expressed support for Trump’s plan: on 27 January after he was briefed by Trump himself about it, he described it as “a significant and historic milestone” and said:
“Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region.”
The President himself is bound to be keen to complete the annexations before his re-election campaign, because that would please the Evangelical Christian voters who form a significant part of his electoral base – and it would ensure that, if he lost the election, his Democratic successor would be faced with a fait accompli.
Almost all the Democratic presidential candidates have expressed opposition to his plan: for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren said:
“Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state. Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form—and reverse any policy that supports it.”
But would a Democratic president attempt to reverse the annexations? That’s very doubtful, since it would require at the very least the US to threaten to cut off military aid to Israel.
What is to be annexed
Under the Oslo Agreement, the Israeli-occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) was divided into three areas. The largest, Area C, with around 61% of the land area is where Israel has built 130+ Jewish-only settlements.
Israel treats Area C as if its sole purpose is to serve Israeli needs, expanding settlements there relentlessly, their population having more than tripled since the Oslo Agreement was signed in 1993. Israel doesn’t consider itself obligated in any way to the estimated 200,000 Palestinians living in Area A, banning virtually all construction and development by them. When, having no other option, Palestinians build without permits, their buildings, including their living quarters, are liable to be demolished by Israel, with the residents themselves being billed for the demolition costs.
Most of the approximately 2.5 million Palestinian residents of the West Bank live in Areas A and B, which consist of 165 disconnected “islands” surrounded by land designated as part of Area C.
In total, Israel has transferred over 413,000 of its citizens into Area C. A further 209,000 Israeli citizens now live in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Colonisation of occupied territory was and is contrary to international law – to be precise, it is war crime contrary to Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which states that “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a war crime.
Up to now, Israel has treated the settlements in Area C as extensions of its sovereign territory, applying most of its domestic laws there and allowing settlers to vote in Knesset elections. Now, the settlements are to be annexed and treated as an integral party of Israel. Here, we are talking about all the settlements and the land around them being annexed to Israel, not just a few of the settlements located close to the Green Line. This avoids any political difficulties for an Israeli government from having to uproot Jews from outlying settlements and repatriate them to Israel.
The fact that the settlements are widely spread across the West Bank makes it difficult to construct a contiguous territory to be annexed to Israel. Nevertheless, Trump’s “vision” document claims that “approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory”. But, 15 of the settlements are planned to be in enclaves within “Palestinian territory” with dedicated access routes connecting them to Israeli-controlled territory. (By “Palestinian territory”, we mean the territory in the West Bank generously assigned to a Palestinian “state” by the US and Israel).
It is Trump’s “vision” that this territory with its attached enclaves become sovereign Israeli territory. Conquest and a 50-year programme of colonisation is about to bear fruit for Israel.
The US has also agreed that the Jordan Valley be annexed to Israel. Trump’s “vision” states bluntly:
“The Jordan Valley, which is critical for Israel’s national security, will be under Israeli sovereignty.” (p12)
When the US has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, it didn’t formally recognise East Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory, even though Israel had long since treated it as such.
After capturing and occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in June 1967, Israel greatly expanded the city by annexing West Bank land and applying Israeli law to the expanded city. From then on, Israel regarded the expanded Jerusalem as an integral part of Israel. This was not accepted by the Security Council, which has always regarded it (and the rest of the West Bank) as Israeli occupied territory, as did most states in the world, including the US, apart from Israel.
On Jerusalem, Trump’s “vision” states bluntly:
“Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city.” (p17)
That would seem to be a statement that the US now recognises all of Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem, as sovereign Israeli territory.
The Ambassadors of three Gulf States - Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates - attended the ceremony in the East Room in the White House on 28 January, when President Trump unveiled his “vision” for Israel/Palestine, and were publicly thanked by him for their attendance.
Afterwards, it was suggested that they attended the event because they were given the false impression that his “vision” included a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, whereas in reality there is no Palestinian state and no capital in East Jerusalem.
A few days later representatives from the three states joined the other members of the Arab League in unanimously rejecting what they called the US-Israeli deal, saying that it “does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people”. However, no action was proposed that would impose a cost on Israel for annexing Palestinian territory.
The EU was unable to make an official statement criticising the US proposals because that required unanimity amongst the 27 member states. The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell couldn’t achieve unanimity because, as a result of lobbying by Israel, at least six states (including Italy, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic) objected.
Borrell issued a critical statement on his own, warning that “steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged”. Those are empty words - on the Israel/Palestine issue the EU is now paralysed.
When the Security Council held a meeting on the US/Israel proposals on 11 February, the EU was not in a position to present an official policy on the proposals. However, a joint statement issued by Belgium, France, Germany, Estonia and Poland at the Security Council had the merit of robustly restating EU policy:
“The annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, constitutes a breach of international law, undermines the viability of the two-State solution and challenges the prospects for just, comprehensive and lasting peace. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, we do not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967.”
The UK, by contrast, limited itself to expressing “concern” at the about possible annexations.
A draft Security Council resolution critical of the US/Israel proposals was not pressed to a vote because it was not going to get the nine positive votes necessary to force the US to veto it.
The sad conclusion is that there is no pressure worthy of the name on the US/Israel that might persuade them not to go ahead with the proposed annexations.
To say that, in the past, the US has applied double standards in its response to Russia’s takeover of Crimea compared with Israel’s takeover of Palestinian territories is a gross understatement.
In June 1967, Israel took over Palestinian territories whose populations were overwhelmingly opposed to being taken over by Israel. But no economic sanctions have ever been imposed by the US to force Israel to withdraw. Quite the contrary, Israel has been showered with US tax dollars over the years and today it receives more US aid (mostly military) than any other state in the world. Before leaving office, President Obama promised that this largesse would continue, promising Israel $38 billion over the following 10 years.
By contrast, in 2014 Russia took over Crimea whose population was both overwhelmingly Russian and overwhelmingly in favour of being taken over by Russia (and was part of Ukraine in 2014 rather than Russia because of an arbitrary decision in 1954 by the USSR Supreme Soviet to transfer it without its consent from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR). Nevertheless, Russia was immediately subjected to economic sanctions by the US, sanctions that are still in force today.
With the President’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and now great swathes of the West Bank, the divergence in standards has widened further. To be consistent, the President should immediately recognise Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea and lift the economic sanctions imposed on Russia because of its takeover of Crimea.
Endnote: US/Israel requirements for a Palestinian “state”
The Palestinian “state” prescribed in President Trump’s “vision” for Israel/Palestine would mean the continuation of Israeli occupation in a not very different form: if the “state” ever came into existence, Israel would remain in control of all the land between the Jordan and the Sea, including the territory assigned to a Palestinian “state” by the US/Israel.
This territory includes Gaza and the West Bank, minus the areas in the West Bank which the US has approved for annexation by Israel in the “vision” document. These areas consist of all the 130+ Jewish-only settlements built illegally by Israel since it took over the West Bank by force in 1967, along with large swathes of land around them, plus the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem.
The West Bank territory of the “state” would consist of a number of non-contiguous chunks, linked together by a network of roads, bridges and tunnels and surrounded by territory to be annexed to Israel – and therefore with no access to the outside world except through Israeli-controlled territory.
So much for the territory assigned by the US to the new Palestinian “state”. As for the sovereignty, which the new “state” will be able to exercise, suffice to say the US has agreed that it will be highly restricted by Israel. To quote from the “vision” document:
“Upon signing the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, the State of Israel will maintain overriding security responsibility for the State of Palestine” (p21)
“The State of Israel will continue to maintain control over the airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum west of the Jordan river.” (Appendix 2C)
“The State of Israel will retain sovereignty over territorial waters, which are vital to Israel’s security and which provides stability to the region." (p13)
“The lack of ports has raised the costs of Palestinian economic activity. Though the State of Palestine will include Gaza, security challenges make the building of a port in Gaza problematic for the foreseeable future.” (p27)
“Five years following the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement and assuming the full satisfaction of the Gaza Criteria, the State of Palestine shall have the right, subject to the satisfaction of State of Israel’s security and environmental requirements, to create an artificial island oﬀ the coast of Gaza to develop a port to serve Gaza (the “GAZA PORT”), as well as an airport for small aircraft.” (p29)
“All persons and goods will cross the borders into the State of Palestine through regulated border crossings, which will be monitored by the State of Israel. Israeli border crossing oﬀicials, using state of the art scanning and imaging technology, shall have the right to confirm that no weapons, dual-use or other security-risk related items will be allowed to enter into the State of Palestine.” (p24)
A demilitarized “state”
The “vision” document is clear:
“The State of Palestine shall be fully demilitarized and remain so” (p22)
The document extols the virtue of this for Palestine, presenting military expenditure as a burden which Israel is generously prepared to carry on behalf of Palestinians:
“Every country spends a very significant sum of money on its defense from external threats. The State of Palestine will not be burdened with such costs, because it will be shouldered by the State of Israel. This is a significant benefit for the economy of the State of Palestine since funds that would otherwise be spent on defense can instead be directed towards healthcare, education, infrastructure and other matters to improve Palestinians’ well-being.” (p21)
“A demilitarized State of Palestine will be prohibited from possessing capabilities that can threaten the State of Israel including: weapons systems such as combat aircraft (manned and unmanned); heavy armored vehicles; mines; missiles; rockets; heavy machine guns; laser/radiating weapons; anti-air; anti-armor; anti-ship; military intelligence; oﬀensive cyber and electronic warfare capabilities; production facilities and procurement mechanisms for weapons systems; military infrastructure and training facilities; or any weapons of mass destruction.” (Appendix 2C)
“The State of Palestine will not have the right to forge military, intelligence or security agreements with any state or organization that adversely aﬀect the State of Israel’s security, as determined by the State of Israel. The State of Palestine will not be able to develop military or paramilitary capabilities inside or outside of the State of Palestine.” (Appendix 2C)
Israel will have a permanent veto over Palestinian security capabilities:
“[Palestinian security] capabilities (i) may not (A) violate the principle that the State of Palestine in all its territory, including Gaza, shall be, and shall remain, fully demilitarized or (B) derogate the State of Israel’s overriding security responsibility, and (ii) will be agreed upon by the State of Palestine and the State of Israel.
“Any expansion of Palestinian security capabilities beyond the capabilities existing on the date this Vision is released shall be subject to agreement with the State of Israel.” (Appendix 2C)
Israel will retain the right to make armed incursions into Palestinian territory:
“The State of Israel will maintain the right to dismantle and destroy any facility in the State of Palestine that is used for the production of prohibited weapons or for other hostile purposes. While the State of Israel will use its best eﬀorts to minimize incursions into the State of Palestine, the State of Israel will retain the right to engage in necessary security measures to ensure that the State of Palestine remains demilitarized and non-threatening to the State of Israel, including from terrorist threats.” (Appendix 2C)
Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees in Israeli jails
The signing of a “peace agreement” is often accompanied by the release of prisoners and the granting of amnesty to individuals for actions prior to the signing of the agreement.
If this agreement ever came to pass, Palestinians would not even get their prisoners out. Instead, the “vision” document sets out a very limited scheme for prisoner release and amnesty (p30): Israel will release Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees, but not “(i) those convicted of murder or attempted murder, (ii) those convicted of conspiracy to commit murder … and (iii) Israeli citizens”.
In the first phase of releases immediately after an agreement is signed, prisoners to be released must generally have served at least two-thirds of their sentence; in the second phase, at an unspecified future time, they must have served at least half their sentence.
First and foremost, the “vision” document states:
“There shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.” (p32)
Secondly, Israel will be able to restrict Palestinian immigration into the “state” of Palestine:
“The rights of Palestinian refugees to immigrate to the State of Palestine shall be limited in accordance with agreed security arrangements.” (p33)
The immigration rate “shall be agreed to by the parties and regulated by various factors”, for example, “security risks to the State of Israel” (p33). Presumably, one of “parties” will be Israel.
The United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949, provides education, health care and social services in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) to over 5 million Palestinians registered as refugees with the Agency.
The “vision” document boasts: “In the last 10 years alone, the US contributed approximately $2.99 billion ($3.16 billion in 2017 terms), which accounted for 28% of all contributions to UNRWA” (p31). The document doesn’t mention that the US ceased making contributions to UNRWA in August 2018.
A couple of pages later the document declares:
“Upon the signing of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement, Palestinian refugee status will cease to exist, and UNWRA will be terminated and its responsibilities transitioned to the relevant governments.” (p33)
The document does not identify any “government” that has agreed to take over relevant UNRWA responsibilities, though it does say that the US “will endeavor to raise a fund to provide some compensation to Palestinian refugees” (p33).
Happily, UNRWA cannot be “terminated” by the US since it was established by the UN General Assembly and operates under its auspices.
Conduct During Negotiations
In Section 22 headed Conduct During Negotiations, the “vision” document instructs the PLO and the Palestinian Authority to
“Refrain from any attempt to join any international organization without the consent of the State of Israel;” (p39)
“Take no action, and shall dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States and any of their citizens before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and all other tribunals” (p39)
It’s not clear if all these conditions continue to apply in the unlikely event of Palestinian statehood being achieved, for instance, would Israel have a veto over the State of Palestine being a party to the International Criminal Court?
The PLO and the Palestinian Authority is instructed to cease giving financial support to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and
“Take all necessary actions to immediately terminate the paying of salaries to terrorists serving sentences in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists. The latter must be done prior to the signing of an agreement.” (p39)
Conditions for Palestinian statehood
In Section 22, the “vision” document lays down an astonishing set of conditions which Palestinians must fulfil before they are deemed worthy of statehood by Israel and the US. It says:
“The following criteria are a predicate to the formation of a Palestinian State and must be determined to have occurred by the State of Israel and the United States …
· The Palestinians shall have implemented a governing system with a constitution or another system for establishing the rule of law that provides for freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, protections for religious freedom and for religious minorities to observe their faith, uniform and fair enforcement of law and contractual rights, due process under law, and an independent judiciary with appropriate legal consequences and punishment established for violations of the law.
· The Palestinians shall have established transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions …
· The Palestinians shall have achieved civilian and law enforcement control over all of its territory and demilitarized its population.
· The Palestinians shall have complied with all the other terms and conditions of this Vision.”
Few states in this world satisfy these conditions, and none in the Middle East.
Not even Israel – because, according to the US, it discriminates against its Arab citizens. In its 2016 Report on Human Rights Practices in Israel & the occupied territories (published on 3 March 2017), the US State Department asserts that one of "the most significant human rights problems in Israel” is “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel, many of whom self-identify as Palestinian, in particular in access to equal education, housing, and employment opportunities”.
Clearly, Israel has some way to go before it is worthy of statehood.
27 February 2020