Arabs and Israelis participate in a demonstration on 4 February 2017 against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and against the home demolition policy in Tel Aviv
Past masters at keeping the Palestinians in check: Israel approves less than two percent of all requests for building permits submitted by Palestinians. Any homes and shops that lack one are simply razed to the ground. Lately, despite the practice being labelled a war crime, the number of punitive demolitions – destroying the family homes of suspected Palestinian attackers – has also increased

Peace can't be bought

Like most previous US administrations, Trump understands the ″big ultimate deal″ mainly through security and economic lenses. Accordingly, he is reinforcing a well-trodden path and failed paradigm of securitised peace and an economic peace approach.

Trump refuses to recognise that economic aid cannot buy political peace. The current administration needs only to look at the Obama administration′s failed economic peace approach to draw obvious conclusions.

Even a brief examination of the former US secretary of state John Kerry′s Palestine Economic Initiative (PEI) provides plenty of examples and lessons on why ″new economic opportunities″, as dictated by the US and within its framework and understanding of peace and ″big deal″ approach, will not lead to peace. In fact, the exact opposite is true: it sustains and entrenches a status quo that denies basic human rights, equality and freedom.

Trump concluded the meeting by stating, ″We′ll start a process which hopefully will lead to peace.″ He neither defined the process or its parameters, nor did he mention the Palestinian state or the two-state solution that Abbas has pursued throughout his political career. Abbas simply said ″Okay.″ He approved ″starting a process″ and he accepted starting a journey towards peace under Trump′s leadership.

For Trump, as well as most previous US administrations, peace means security for Israel and political stability. For the Israeli political leadership, as evidenced by their facts on the ground, peace means annexation, colonisation and apartheid. For the unelected and unrepresentative PA leadership, peace means entrenching their economic privileges and perceived (real or imagined) power and authority.

Abbas, his advisors and the Palestinian political leadership are unable to learn the decade-long simple lesson that is supported by ample evidence: the US is a dishonest broker for peace.

To really bring about peace would involve de-colonising and dismantling the Israeli apartheid regime and ending the illegal Israeli military occupation: that is the first step.

But neither the US administration, nor Abbas or Netanyahu are willing to travel this road. They might engage in a process that will satisfy their egos and ideological fantasies, but will certainly not secure a just and lasting peace. This will be a job for the next generation of leaders.

Alaa Tartir

© Middle East Eye 2017

Alaa Tartir is the programme director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, a post-doctoral fellow at The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and a visiting research fellow at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva, Switzerland.

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