European foreign ministers spoke with unprecedented frankness in Brussels yesterday morning when they said Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem and the negotiations is a blow to the peace process. What they still haven’t dared to say was that the two-state project has completely collapsed.
The decision President Trump made on 6 December was equivalent to declaring the death of the so-called two-state solution, which was based on establishing a viable Palestinian state, based on President Bush’s vision. At the time, The Economist magazine’s front cover had a picture of President George W Bush, with the title, Mr Palestine. Ironically, exactly ten years later, Trump made his shocking speech about Jerusalem, which earned him the title Mr Israel.
The White House under Trump has almost reached the level of coincidence with what Israeli Prime Minister wants in terms of burying any chance of the establishment of a Palestinian state. If Netanyahu wanted to accept a Palestinian state, he would have done so during Bush’s or Obama’s term, but what is forcing him to accept it during his ally Trump’s term?
The predicament at the moment is the Europeans, as Washington has put the European foreign ministries in a dilemma when it announced the end of the chance for a Palestinian state. The European foreign ministries are used to being optimistic given the presence of negotiations that would lead to a two-state solution. The alternative to this option in the eyes of the Europeans is to end any talk of a political solution for the Palestinian cause and opening the door to armed conflict.
The Palestinian side must now put its hope in geographic shards that will make up its “state” in some areas located behind walls, between settlements, and amongst military zones all established by the occupation in the West Bank. This is if the Palestinian Authority wants to continue the negotiations efforts for many more years. However, will the Israelis find a meek and frustrated Palestinian president like Mahmoud Abbas in the future?
After having breakfast with Netanyahu in Brussels yesterday, the European foreign ministers announced their refusal to go along with the American President’s decision and continued to adhere to the two-state project. However, the problem lies in the fact that they have never dared to address or act on this case without the involvement of the US.
Keeping in mind the frivolity of Trump’s behaviour, it would be fair not to exempt the European policy-makers from their responsibilities. They were, in one way or another, involved in selling the Palestinian people delusions of the possibility of establishing a “viable” Palestinian state through negotiations with a rigid Israeli leadership. Over the course of the past 25 years, Europe has not dared to pressure the successive extremist right-wing Israeli governments. The result is that the PA today has nothing to say to its people.
We must admit that Europe was not prepared to act or even put minimum pressure on the inflexible Israeli side, and as a result, it participated, to some extent, in eliminating the chances of establishing a Palestinian state, even to the formality standards that lack sovereignty, as proposed by George W Bush. Due to this, the Middle East peace process was nothing more than 25 years of selling illusions and pushing the PA into a trap or a cage.
Today, the Palestinian people are standing at a sharp turn in the road, as the promises of a political solution have been broken, the two-state solution has completely collapsed, and there is no way to reach Jerusalem through negotiations. The result after 25 years of American-sponsored slogans and European support is that the Palestinian flags are fluttering over fragmented residential areas, while the supposed Palestinian government’s top priority and task is to keep the calm for the Israeli government without giving its people even a glimmer of hope.
Without Europe being willing to undertake an urgent and bold review of its chronic laxity with the Israeli occupation and look into its alternative options after the collapse of the two-state project, the statements at Brussels regarding the Palestinian state will remain hollow, helpless and far from reality.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.