President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” released last month was not about so much a peace plan as it was a presidential executive order that confers legitimacy and acceptance to the core founding tenets and claims of Zionism. Indeed, the deal represents the wish list for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and settler-colonial forces of Zionism in Israel and in the U.S. It is a deal both between Netanyahu and Trump on the one hand and between Netanyahu and Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) on the other, about the extent to which Zionist ethno-religious underpinnings and biblical claims of the land are going to be implemented.
In essence, Trump’s peace plan is designed to appease Israeli settlers and their supporters in Israel and the United States by rejecting outright the establishment of a viable, sovereign, and independent Palestinian state–let alone recognizing Palestinians’ right to self-determination and liberty. Moreover, it endorses the Zionistethno-religious perceptions related to the conflict with Palestinians over the land.
President Trump’s deal not only caters to Israeli colonial and expansionist aspirations, but it also yields to the ethno-religious underpinnings of Zionism and Israeli claims to the Palestinian land. The plan stipulates that Israel has the right to annex all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. It further consolidates the incremental American leanings towards Jerusalem by declaring the city “the capital of Israel.” As for the Palestinians, the plan offers “a future Palestinian state” on the remainder, shrouded and isolated areas within the West Bank, Gaza, a few East Jerusalem neighborhoods presently on the West Bank side of the wall with few exceptions, and a sliver of land that stretches into the Negev. By recognizing these underlying principles, the deal effectively endorses Israel’s Nation-State law passed in 2018, and long-standing assertions with regard to the land and the rights, or lack thereof, for the indigenous Palestinian population.
Israel’s Nation-State law overtly states what Zionism and the state of Israel represent, that “The exercise of the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People.” Subheadlined as, “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish People,” the law defines the country’s symbols, legitimacy, language, laws, and religious customs. While not referencing the Bible outright, it is the clear fulcrum of the law’s moral justifications.
It further asserts “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and strengthening.” Indeed, this could be interpreted to include the oPt. Therefore, the law severs any links between Palestinians and their land. Trump’s plan adopts almost literally these stipulations. For the Palestinians, and rightly so, it is a new version of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that was based on Zionist claims to the land of Palestine. In this President Trump follows in the footsteps of President Woodrow Wilson who endorsed the Declaration at the time.