It’s rare that UMNO and DAP can ever agree on anything, so you can imagine our surprise when both parties came together over a recent international issue:
Yes, both of them put aside their differences to speak out against US President Donald Trump and his Middle East peace plan, called ‘Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People’. Trump, being Trump, touted his peace plan as the ‘The Deal of the Century’ and aims to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Sounds idealistic, especially when you consider that no previous US President has been able to do it thus far.
So before we go on to DAP and UMNO’s surprise friendship, here’s what Trump’s plan is in the first place…
Trump calls his plan a ‘win-win opportunity’ for both Israel and Palestine
We won’t go too much into the conflict itself as it’s been explained to Jerusalem and back already (click here to read about it), plus given the countless protests and boycotts that happen here, it’s probably safe to assume that the general Malaysian public are at least somewhat aware of it on the surface level already.
But to kick things off, as always, a little bit of context first: this 181-page plan U-turns away from the decades-long American foreign policy in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which was mostly hands-off, leaving final-status issues to negotiations between the two.
Interestingly, it wasn’t President Trump himself who wrote the plan, but rather his Presidential advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner (Ivanka’s husband). Here’s what he said about it:
“Through this plan, we have established a clear path to a final peace agreement that meets the core requirements of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.” – Jared Kushner
As mentioned, the plan is 181-pages long, so we won’t be going into too much detail about it, but here are some key points:
- Jerusalem (including its Old City) would remain as Israel’s undivided capital, while Palestine’s capital will be in East Jerusalem
- The Palestinian state will be based in the West Bank and Gaza
- The Palestinian state will be fully demilitarised
- Israel to annex all Jewish settlements (including the Jordan Valley)
- The United States will recognise Israeli sovereignty over all the territory the plan assigns to Israel
The Presidents of the US and Israel met in the White House to unveil their plan, and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has already given his endorsement, pledging to annex all the settlements according to the plan as soon as possible.
The plan would look something like this:
Basically, Israel will annex the non-coloured area within the state of Palestine in the right-side image, while giving the Palestinians some land to the south as a trade-off. As stated in the plan itself:
“Land swaps will provide the State of Palestine with land reasonably comparable in size to the territory of pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza,” – as quoted from Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People
(For those of you super interested in world politics, or maybe you’re stuck on the toilet with nothing better to read, you can view the full White House document by clicking here)
Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’s a vital piece missing here from the whole puzzle, and that’s… the Palestinians. Because amazingly…
The plan was written without the participation of the Palestinians
Despite Trump calling this ‘The Deal of the Century’, there was no input whatsoever from the Palestinian side in the formation of this plan. And as a result, understandably, they’ve rejected it. Here’s what they’ve got to say about the whole thing:
“If we had accepted the deal, we could have been good guys… if that is the criteria for who is good and who is bad, we prefer to be very bad in sticking to the aspirations of our people.” – Mohammad Shtayyeh, Prime Minister of Palestine
“We say a thousand times, no, no,no to the deal of the century… We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct.” – Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine
Because let’s get real, no matter which side of the fence you stand on, it’s hard to imagine any agreement with the word ‘annex’ in it that would be 100% good for both sides (if at all).
In fact, Palestine even went so far as to threaten to terminate all agreements between Israel and Palestine if the former annexes any part of the West Bank. And they meant it; they’ve actually cut all relations with both the US and Israel, including security ties following the unveiling of the plan.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly so angered by the plan that he even refused to discuss the plan with Trump over the phone, or to even receive a copy of it to study it!
One of the main issues they have with the plan, besides the use of the word ‘annex’ (duh), is that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital, since Palestine also recognises the holy city as its own capital. As Mahmoud Abbas put it, “Jerusalem is not for sale”, a sentiment echoed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan not long after.
Furthermore, under Trump’s deal, the already-isolated Palestinian territories are being further divided into ghettoes and Bantustans (as can be seen from the map above) threatening the possibility of an independent sovereign Palestinian state.
It doesn’t help that Jared Kushner himself, the architect of the plan, struggled to answer when challenged by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on the unrealistic expectations placed on the Palestinian state by his plan. In fact, Kushner’s qualifications had been questioned from the get go, with former US Vice President Joe Biden saying Kushner has no credentials for the job back in Oct of last year.
Trump’s plan is apparently so one-sided that even UMNO and DAP got in on the act
Yes, we never thought we’d see the day, but there’s finally one thing that the two parties can agree on: Palestine seems to be getting the short end of the stick on this deal.
Teo Nie Ching, Deputy Education Minister and DAP’s international secretary, claimed it would threaten decades-long peace efforts in Palestine, calling the plan ‘an oppression of Palestinian people’ and ‘apartheid-like’:
“DAP urges all to return to the discussion table based on the principles accepted by everyone and to take into account the people of Palestine, whose voice is the most important in this issue.” – Teo Nie Ching
While UMNO… well, they’ve never been one to sugarcoat their opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict:
“(We) will never acknowledge the existence of Israel and will always consider Israel as intruders and terrorists with regards to Palestinian rights, interests and sovereignty.” – UMNO Deputy President Mohamad Hasan
Their stance on the issue is nothing new, but hey, at least UMNO and DAP finally found some common ground, right?
Meanwhile, our Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah was also involved in the issue, as according to news reports he had to urgently fly off to Saudi Arabia for an emergency meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In fact, at time of writing, the meeting just concluded, with the OIC (and Wisma Putra for that matter) pretty much rejecting Trump’s plan outright.
Earlier at the Open-Ended Emergency Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee in Jeddah, FM Dato' @saifuddinabd reiterated Malaysia's position that a two-State solution is the only viable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. pic.twitter.com/P91QUOycNj
— Wisma Putra (@MalaysiaMFA) February 3, 2020
And they’re not alone: besides Turkish President Erdoğan’s thoughts on the issue, which we’ve already mentioned above, an expert from the UN Human Rights Council has called the plan ‘lopsided’, stressing that the ‘annexation of territory is strictly prohibited by international law’, while Britain’s Prince Charles declared his support for the Palestinians during His Royal Highness’ recent visit to Bethlehem. Even Trump’s BFF Vladimir Putin found it hard to go along with the plan, echoing the ‘violation of international law’ argument put forward by the UN expert.
DAP and UMNO uniting aside, it’s unlikely that the Israeli-Palestine conflict will be solved anytime soon
Whether or not the US decides to proceed with the plan, it’s unlikely that Malaysia would actually be able to do anything about it. As it is, our government is already on thin ice with the White House, as Dr. M, a staunch critic of Trump, has refused to meet with President Trump because even he is ‘unsure how to deal with him’. Tun had this to say on the recent impeachment of President Trump:
“I’m quite sure even Republicans feel that he is the wrong leader, that he has breached their rules and laws and also their Constitution.” – Tun Dr. Mahathir
However, Tun did recently meet with the senior leader of Hamas (Palestine’s de facto ruling party), Ismail Haniyeh, who – during a visit to Putrajaya recently – summed up the overall predicament of Palestinians via this statement:
“Israeli aggression is not only against the Muslims but many Christians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Palestinian diaspora are suffering.” – Ismail Haniyeh
The unfolding of the next chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian issue may well be seen if and when Palestine puts forward its resolution to the UN, but as things stand, sadly, the conflict continues with no end in sight.