US President Donald Trump passionately calls for the renewal of peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority. In that context, President Trump is preparing to release his “deal of the century” after the Israeli elections on April 7th.
Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has already labeled Trump’s plan as the “slap of the century” and rejected its details before the deal has even been showcased.
Veteran observers of Middle East politics ask: what is there to negotiate about?
Let us begin with basics. The Palestinian Liberation Organization has yet to ratify the US –sponsored Oslo Accords that PLO leaders signed on the White House lawn with the leaders of Israel more than 25 years ago.
The agreement, hammered out in Oslo, stipulated mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO.
It required the PLO would cease and desist from terrorism, and that the PA would cancel the PLO covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction.
A week later, the Israeli Knesset ratified the accord by a vote of 61 to 50, with 9 abstentions.
However, on October 6, 1993, the PLO executive convened and would not ratify the Oslo accord, for lack of a quorum.
Why is this important?
Since the PLO did not ratify the Oslo Accords and renounce terrorism, the PLO is still defined in Israeli and American law as a terror entity. That means that according to both Israeli and American law, and the PLO was not stricken from either the Israeli and American law books as “a terrorist entity.”
Meanwhile, the other concrete commitment made by the PLO on the White House lawn, to cancel the PLO Covenant, which calls for Israel’s destruction, remains undone.
On two occasions, the Palestinian National Council convened to discuss the PLO Covenant – on April 24, 1996 and on December 14, 1998, with no results.
What, then can we expect from the Trump “Deal of the Century?” No one knows the precise details of the Middle East peace proposal that President Trump has in mind to reveal after the Israeli elections on April 7th.
What we do know from sources in the US, the PLO, and Israel is that the Palestinian Authority, run by the Palestine Liberation Organization, will not be replaced and will continue to function.
PLO policies will persist
What we know is that the Trump plan does not provide for a change in the status of 5,000,000 descendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 war who live in 59 “temporary” UNRWA refugee camps where they have been living for the past 70 years under the illusion of the “right of return” to villages lost in 1948 even if they no longer exist.
What we know is that the Trump plan does not introduce a peace education program to replace the new PA war curriculum in all PA schools which espouse a “right of return by force of arms” program in all PA and UNRWA schools.
On February 25, 2019, The Times of Israel reported that US President Donald Trump’s senior Middle East adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, revealed that the Trump plan will address all final status issues, call for a united Palestinian leadership and have ‘broad economic impact’ for the region.
The time has come for the movers and shakers of US Middle East policy to realize that the mistake that was made in the 25-year-long Middle East peace process since Oslo was that too little attention was paid to the necessary legislation and education for peace.
Without peace education, you cannot have a peace process.