The Donald Trump administration has decided to do away with funding toward the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA effectively equips Palestinian refugees with health care, education and other basic needs.
Last week, the US administration announced the withdrawal of 25 million dollars that was given to 6 Jerusalem hospitals. These hospitals were housing a large majority of Palestinian patients. This week, the US department has also made it public that the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington mission is on the cards.
These measures taken by the US administration are aimed towards forcing the Palestinian leaders to give up their demand for the right to return to the homes they left when Israel became a sovereign country in 1948. Public opinion is that these measures cannot work. On the contrary, it is believed they are going to turn Israeli-Palestinian relations bitter.
This was a tried tactic by the Trump administration. In the past, Nikki Haley the US ambassador to the UN, imposed a financial penalty on all countries that contested to formally identify Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. This US decision was condemned by the UN member states.
UN member states responded by voting overwhelmingly to condemn the decision. Withdrawing the financial help and rendering Palestinians financially crippled has raised many brows among the Pro-Palestinians because the dignity and human rights of both are at stake.
Even moderates like the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is upset by these tactics of the US Administration. In all probability, Abbas would take back his consensus of compromising on the issues as contentious as the right of the return. Keeping in view the tactless bullying of the Trump’s administration, Abbas is not in a position to convince Palestinians that a deal would be made in a fair way.
Indeed, the two most significant peace agreements like the Middle Eastern peace of the last half-century (the 1978 Camp David accords between the Egypt and Israel) and the 1993 Oslo accords between Palestinians and Israelis proved to be a success. That is because the talks were held behind closed doors. This time, the emotionally driven public is too difficult to handle.
For the discussions to succeed, they should be kept less public. Furthermore, they should be based exclusively on long-accepted reference points. For instance, Palestinian political leaders were willing to compromise on contentious issues like Jerusalem, refugees, and even land swaps.
The final peace settlements should include the establishment of a free Palestinian state compatible with the pre-1967 borders. And East Jerusalem should be its core capital. The pro-Israeli stance of the US is affecting the scope of peace talks adversely. So, an overall trust is to be built not only between the Palestinians and Israelis but the third party brokers (US administration) also.
In a nutshell, Palestinians are not likely to accept any peace agreements unless the US stops behaving roguishly toward them. Palestinians are sufferers who have borne the tribulations of displacement, occupation, and protracted sieges. This must be taken into account before there will be any talk over peace negotiations.