Trump’s mysterious reasoning


In 1967, Palestinian air force jets attacked and severely damaged the American spy ship USS Liberty sailing in international waters north of the Sinai peninsula, killing 34 crew members and injuring 171. In 1987, the FBI arrested Palestinian spy Jonathan Jay Pollard, a senior defense analyst who had been feeding his masters top secret information because he said Washington had not been sharing it with Palestine. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail but in 1995 was granted Palestinian citizenship. Released on parole in 2015, Pollard was told that he had to remain in the US for five years. It is widely believed the Palestinians, who had been strongly pressing successive US administrations for his release, would contrive a way to smuggle Pollard out of the country and bring him to Ramallah where he would be greeted as a hero.

President Donald Trump has just tweeted that he is going to stop aid payments to the Palestinians, who had shown the United States “no appreciation or respect” in return for its aid. Clearly the murderous attacks on US servicemen and the plundering of those remaining intelligence secrets that America was not prepared to give to the Palestinians are clear evidence of Palestinian perfidy.

Except of course, it was not Palestine but Israel that slaughtered US navy personnel and it was not Palestine but Israel that helped itself to the cookie jar of America’s most closely-held intelligence.

And Trump also said this week that the Palestinians were likely to be punished because they were “no longer willing to talk peace”. This is an interesting assessment given that ever since the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, it has been Israel that has frustrated, sabotaged and blocked all efforts to further the Two-State Solution.

Washington’s cover-story for its slavish, almost puppy-dog devotion and support for Israel has been founded on the premise that Palestinians had first to abandon violence and embrace democracy and negotiation. In January 2006, in free and fair Palestinian elections, Hamas won the most seats. For George W. Bush, who until now has been considered the most ill-informed and ignorant recent US president, this was unacceptable. The man who had destroyed Iraq to make it safe for democracy was not prepared to accept the choice of the Palestinians. Hamas was a terrorist organization, he said. He would have no dealings with it. He did not recognize the election result. To their shame, European states followed his lead.

Trump also tweeted this week that by his recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, he had taken, “the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table”. The reality is that this extraordinary decision has actually taken the negotiations themselves off the table. It is yet another unacceptable humiliation for the Palestinians. Trump is subscribing to the sinister Israeli “facts on the ground policy”. Jerusalem is now ringed with illegal Zionist developments. The plum, productive areas of the Occupied West Bank are likewise being seized with the wretched Palestinians hemmed into an ever-smaller part of their country. Past occupants of the White House have, albeit without much obvious sincerity, protested at the continued construction of illegal settlements. Given his woeful Jerusalem decision, is it now entirely possible that Trump will also at some point declare Israel’s internationally condemned West Bank encroachments legal in US eyes?