PALESTINIANS BRACE FOR TRUMP’S VISIT

Washington � Palestinian activists are calling on President Trump to abandon his strongly pro-Israel position and assume a more neutral stance if he has any hope of reviving the stalled peace process between Palestinians and Israelis.

“As President Trump heads to Israel and Palestine, one hopes the key promises and goals he laid out in front of the Arab and Islamic states at the summit in Saudi Arabia will be pressed upon the Israeli leadership,” said Zaha Hassan, Human rights attorney and Middle East Fellow at the New America think tank in Washington.

“First, Trump promised not to impose the will of the US on others. Likewise, he should discourage US’s closest ally, Israel, from imposing its will bolstered by more than $3 billion per year of US taxpayer money on Palestinians,” Hassan said.

“If President Trump is truly committed to stamping out extremism and to providing a better future for the region’s youth representing more than 65% of the population, then the US must wield its considerable influence to end the Israeli military occupation of Arab land that began in 1967,” Hassan said.

Trump arrived in Jerusalem on Monday afternoon after having been greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben-Gurion airport. “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace,” Trump said in brief remarks at the airport. “But we can only get there working together. There is no other way.” Noura Erakat, a professor at George Mason University near Washington, said Trump will not be able to kickstart the peace process if he follows through on a pledge to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“There are only two possible outcomes from this visit: either Trump declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel in contravention of 70 years of international and US policy, thereby ending the fiction of Israel’s temporary occupation, or he announces the resumption of the ‘peace’ process which is incrementally facilitating Israel’s conquest under the veneer of diplomacy,” Erakat said.

“Both outcomes are devastating to Palestinians as they fail to deliver freedom,” she said.

She warned that Trump would be walking into a situation in which the call for a two-state solution had cloaked the actual conditions of the Palestinians.

“Israel’s right wing wants to annex the West Bank and declare formal apartheid. Its political center wants to offer Palestinians the equivalent of ‘black homelands’ rejected by Black South Africans enduring apartheid in lieu of a state,” Erakat said. “Palestinians demand freedom, not self-governance.” Pessimism pervaded the Palestinian perspective.

“President Trump is arriving in Israel as the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation looms, on the unprecedented 36th day of a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners for their most fundamental rights–an indication of just how entrenched Israeli policies repressing Palestinian rights have become,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, a San Francisco-based, pro-Palestinian Jewish organization.

“There should be no expectation of anything positive coming out of this visit,” she said. “Both the Israeli and U.S. governments represent their own extreme right-wings, and have shown a dedication to xenophobia and Islamophobia that precludes a just and fair approach to bringing freedom and equality for all people in the region.”

Source: Qatar News Agency

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