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"Deal of century" spells ruin for Palestine!

So where's the fightback?

10 February 2020

When Donald Trump, standing beside Benjamin Netanyahu, announced the "Deal of the Century,” which he claimed was a “peace” plan, it was widely dismissed. Some reporters suggested that it should be referred to the comic section of papers rather than reported as news.

In response the Palestinian Authority broke off relations with Israel and the US and the UN said it would stand by existing treaties. Predictably the US religious Right supported it as part of their anti-Semitic ideology of support for the return of all Jews to a greater Israel which, they believe, will lead to Armageddon and the destruction of all sinners.

Some saw the announcement merely as a manufactured distraction for two leaders facing charges of corruption.  Others saw a giant land grab and property scam typical of Gerard Kushner and his family. Still others pronounced it (DOA) - dead on arrival.

Of course the plan does not exist as a peace mechanism. Reminiscent of the history of betrayals of Native American nations, it tears up all previous treaties, both national and international, claiming Palestinian land and offering nothing.

Yet the deal will be implemented.  Israel, with the support of the US, will expel Palestinians and incorporate the land into greater Israel. The Palestinians appear isolated. Why has the situation changed? What of the two-state solution?

The situation has changed less than it may appear. There never was a two-state solution. The US used diplomacy to appear to be restraining Israel while maintaining good relations with, and cover for, Arab regimes collaborating with the Israelis.

This strategy of diplomacy was always in dispute within the US ruling class. Both Republicans and Democrats are fervent supporters of Israel but many, especially in the Republican party, reject diplomacy in favour of military force and the dispute reached its height around the issue of Iran. Obama argued that diplomacy would gradually erode the Iranian State while many Republicans advocated war.  It was not just a strategic foreign policy decision for Trump whose opposition to diplomacy was designed to win Christian fundamentalist support. Once the Iranian nuclear treaty was torn up the imperialists were committed to a combination of economic and military pressure to crush Iran and Israel's role of local nuclear gendarme, routinely terrorising Palestine and using military aggression in the area was enhanced.

The Arab spring changed the relationship of forces in the Middle East itself.  Although there were decisive moments when the working class intervened against local capitalists, by and large the middle class led the revolts, calling on imperialism, especially US imperialism, to intervene and support reform. Unsurprisingly imperialism proved unable to do this. The US backed the counterrevolution and redoubled support for Israel.  Europe proved unable to even honour their formal treaty with Iran and the Saudis and Emirates moved in lockstep with Israel while Egypt kept a lower profile but continued to work quietly with Israel.

The situation is increasingly unstable.  One major constraint for the US is their unwillingness to launch another full scale occupation based on the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan and they have settled for the Balkanisation of Syria, only using their own troops to pirate oil reserves. Trump and his coterie believe that their control of the dollar is sufficient to bring opponents  to their knees but a significant minority of the military believe that they can simply bomb countries into submission while 'boots on the ground' military activity is carried out through puppet groups. This in itself has turned out to be unreliable as the groups are neither large enough nor stable enough to exert decisive influence.

A massive restructuring is occurring in the region.  Arab regimes are caught in a vice. Bending to popular sentiment means a dangerous confrontation with the US, Israel and the Saudis. Falling in line means a danger of revolution. Nowhere does the vice grip more tightly than in Egypt, where the pro-imperialist regime now depends almost entirely on extreme repression of the mass of the population to hold power. Borrowing from Israel, Egyptian police use stop and search to size mobile phone and computer records to build databases and incarcerate even mild critics of the regime.

Turkey is leveraging its role as a regional power and Russia is positioning itself as an arbitrator, standing between Israel and the Arab regimes while China has built a bridgehead into Iran. At the base of the regional power plays is efforts by the majority of powers not tied to the US to search for mechanisms to counter US control of international currency and establish an alternative banking system.
The longer term direction of US policy is concerning.  They have torn up nuclear arms treaties and now aim for “usable” battlefield nuclear weapons which they argue can be deployed without sparking a global nuclear conflict. They no doubt have Iran in mind as a testing ground for them. But even without them there is no doubt that the US could fairly quickly degrade Iran's economic and military framework and the direction of US policy is towards that end, although many in the elite remain opposed.  The question is, what would happen thereafter?  Regime change means they must have a regime in waiting and too much of a cataclysm could allow the regional masses off the leash. The reality is that the US and Israeli military are in no hurry to find out what that could result in and neither are the Arab bourgeoisie, who are a great deal more anxious to avoid such a conflict, so the unstable equilibrium remains.

What of international solidarity with the Palestinian struggle? The decay of solidarity in the region is marched by a general maudlin passivity across the world although there has been some gains. The BDS campaign to isolate Israel is more widespread and many younger Jews in the US and Europe have broken with Zionism to express solidarity with Palestine. On the other hand the aggressive response from Israel, the US, Britain and other European powers has gone largely unanswered. Mossad agents boast openly of determining the outcome of policy discussions in the major British parties.  A pro-Zionist 'definition' of anti-semitism was used to degrade the Corbyn  leadership and expel leading activists and is still being used to great effect against socialists in both Britain and the US.  Forms of identity politics are used to no-platform solidarity movements and in the US laws banning Palestine solidarity are being passed.

The socialist movement is in disarray. Completely understandable sympathy for the victims of the Arab regimes blinds them to a reality where absence of class politics means that the democratic movements are in essence looking for imperialist sponsorship. New discussions of "many imperialisms" where Russia and China are seen as acting in the Middle East in the same way as historic imperialist powers distracts from the overwhelming role of US imperialism in the conflict.

At the same time the movement has shrunk. Activity has narrowed towards propaganda around the BDS campaign and mass demonstrations are increasingly rare while Trade Unions, usually the first line of support, shy away from street protest seizing upon the tactics of the Palestinian Authority which has conducted a legalistic and diplomatic campaign.

The real issues are political.  The solidarity movement has avoided political discussion arguing that it is not its place to intervene in the internal politics of Palestine but Socialists can't accept that. Within the imperialist subjugation of Palestine sits class struggle. The PLO is a bourgeois movement which savagely represses militants, administering the West Bank on behalf of Israel.

By avoiding political analysis the solidarity movement has in practice thrown itself behind the PLO. Their goal is a two-state solution and their method is diplomatic lobbying of the oppressors of the regional masses, the Arab league, the UN and the imperialist powers themselves who have designed and maintain the Palestinian catastrophe.

The starting point for a new solidarity is total opposition to the colonial settler State of Israel. Palestine should be a unitary secular State in which people of all faiths and none have equal rights and where the dispossessed and their descendants have the right of return from the refugee camps and beyond.

The entanglement of anti-semitism with anti-Zionism must be firmly rejected.  It arises from the weaponization of anti-semitism by the Zionists to the point where they have invented a new category of 'anti-semitic' Jew based on a growing resistance to Zionism within the Jewish community. It also reflects the alliance of the Israeli State with many of the most reactionary forces on the planet, including outright fascists and Christian evangelicals, the latter supporting Israel while remaining consistent in their hatred of Jews.

The almost total silence and lack of action following the unveiling of the Trump deal tells us that the current 'Two-State' mantra has reached its limit. It has no answers!

Socialists should reassert the basic necessity of fighting racism and anti-semitism while defending the re-conquest of Palestine as a task on the road to uniting the Arab masses in the struggle against imperialism and for global socialist revolution.

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