Op-eds

Dershowitz lends weight to deal of the century

  • Geoff
When noted American civil libertarian, Harvard law professor, and political commentator Alan Dershowitz gave his nod to United States President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict, he underlined what numerous players felt about the interminable diplomatic puzzle – an immense tiredness.
by GEOFF SIFRIN | Feb 06, 2020

He says he was told by a Jordanian friend that Arab leaders are “a little bit sick and tired of Palestinians whining”. They’ve always said no to opportunities for a state to exist – in 1948, 1967, 1991, 2000, 2001, and 2008.

Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel who served as former US President Barack Obama’s special envoy on the Middle East, told Al Jazeera in 2016 that Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered 95% to 97% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, and they didn’t take it.

The deal calls for a disconnected Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Jerusalem, including its Old City, will be the undivided capital of Israel. Israel will annex all settlements, including the Jordan Valley including its eastern border with Jordan, creating a Palestinian archipelago state surrounded by a sea of Israeli territory. America will recognise Israeli sovereignty over all the territory the plan assigns to Israel.

Dershowitz’s views accord with the growing sentiments of commentators who say Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice: compromise is portrayed as betrayal. He worked on Trump’s plan in the White House, and considers it a “very good plan … a win-win for both sides”. That enraged traditional leftists who have fought for decades for two states for two peoples based on the 1967 borders. Dershowitz also advised Israelis, “You have to say yes [to Trump’s plan], leave it to the Palestinians to say no.”

His attitude overlaps with Middle East trends. For decades, the Palestinian cause united all Arabs, but leaders increasingly focus on domestic problems. Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates view Iran as the greatest threat, and Israel as a potential ally. In much of the Arab world, Trump’s proposal was received with weary resignation. Several Arab countries said it was a basis for negotiation.

Does Dershowitz believe Trump’s plan will solve the conflict? Through his support for the deal, he becomes associated with the Israeli right, which celebrated it as the definitive end of the independent Palestinian-state ideal. The Israeli left, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and other supporters of a two-state solution will see him as an adversary. They called the deal the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

Dershowitz has been asked about what he calls the “extreme left” within the American Democratic Party, the segment that vigorously supports Palestinian demands. He says he is concerned by some of what he sees, such as Senator Bernie Sanders showing an anti-Semitic attitude by campaigning with United Kingdom Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But he also says he won’t abandon the party. He would lose all influence if he did so. Also, he can’t vote Republican as it would mean voting against a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, reasonable gun control, and in favour of restrictive immigration policies. Between growing disillusionment with the political left and disagreements with the political right, Dershowitz quips that the title of his next book might be, “Why I left the left, but can’t join the right.”

Will Dershowitz go down in history as an enemy of peace, oblivious to the human rights of the Palestinians? It’s hard to predict anything in the Middle East. He is in the company of heavyweight diplomatic players, and will probably win.

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