Palestinians curbed by Trump threats against UN critics

Riyad al-Malki claims US bullying countries not recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Arab League secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit  and Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki: eight Palestinians have been killed and nearly 500 arrested by Israel since Donald Trump declared his shift of policy on Jerusalem. Photograph: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty

Arab League secretary general Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki: eight Palestinians have been killed and nearly 500 arrested by Israel since Donald Trump declared his shift of policy on Jerusalem. Photograph: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty

 

Donald Trump’s threats against UN members who vote in favour of the resolution calling for him to rescind his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital suggests the US will use its muscle to prevent the Palestinians from taking action to strengthen their status on the international scene.

Trump’s stance has drawn an angry reaction from Palestinian leaders, including foreign minister Riyad al-Malki, who accused the US of bullying UN members. Malki charged the Trump administration with trying to impose “a new political reality that many countries will reject”.

Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi charged Trump with blackmail and ignoring “issues of principle, legality and morality”. She warned: “Extortion is the most effective way for the US to isolate itself . . . and to weaken its influence and standing globally.”

A UN Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was backed by every council member except the US, which used its veto.

Israeli occupation

The collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the failure of the US and the international community to halt Israeli settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank has trapped the Palestinians. They no longer have a political horizon and can expect only continuation of the repressive Israeli occupation.

Palestinians feel they are fighting for their existence. On the politico-diplomatic front, the UN and international agencies have become the only means for the Palestinian Authority to secure recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination in a Gaza-West Bank state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

If this route is blocked by the Trump administration and inaction by the international community, the authority will be regarded by Palestinians as useless and may prompt many to return to stones, guns and bombs to retaliate.

However, mounting a centrally organised uprising, or intifada, like those of 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, will be difficult as the Israelis have largely sealed off East Jerusalem from the West Bank (61 per cent controlled by Israel), cut off the West Bank from Israel “proper” with the wall and fence complex, and isolated West Bank urban centres from each other, thereby preventing an organised resistance campaign.

Killings and arrests

Israel has surrounded Gaza and retaliates for every protest with shootings, and each violent act by bombing sites in the narrow coastal strip.

Nevertheless, eight Palestinians have been killed and nearly 500 have been arrested by Israel since Trump declared his shift of policy on Jerusalem and there is no sign the protests will stop. Indeed, to maintain its credibility, the Palestinian Authority has been compelled to call for demonstrations.

As an organised intifada is nearly impossible, since October 2015, individual Palestinians have mounted “lone wolf” stabbings, shooting, and car-ramming attacks on Israeli troops and civilians. According to the Israeli foreign ministry, 60 Israelis have been killed and 866 persons have been wounded, including uninvolved Palestinians.

More than 325 Palestinians have been killed by security forces in incidents which are impossible to predict.

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