World, Americas, Middle East

Experts criticize Trump’s policy on Palestine

Ankara-based think-tank ORSAM hosted a panel themed 'Palestine, Trump and the Middle East'

Experts criticize Trump’s policy on Palestine

By Ali Abo Rezeg


President Donald Trump’s administration is one of the “worst” U.S. governments in terms of handling the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, commentators have agreed.

This came in a Tuesday panel themed “Palestine, Trump and the Middle East”, organized by the Center of Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM) at the Ankara’s Middle East University.

Speakers counted several “negative” moves taken by the Trump administration against the Palestinians, including his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, aid cut to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA and the closure of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

Addressing attendees, Ozlem Tur, Professor of International Relations at Middle East University, said one of Trump’s biggest blunders is his proposal of “economic solution for Palestine”.

“He looks at the Palestinian cause as if it could be solved by money,” Tur said.

This proposal, she said, “neglects the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

Tur said such proposal “ignores the issue of Palestinian refugees, as Trump seeks to take the issue out of any [peace] deal.”

“With the Trump’s administration in power, I feel pessimistic about the future of the Palestinian issue,” she said.

Last year, Trump triggered world outcry when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to the occupied city in May.

And in September, Trump ended funding for UNRWA, which provides critical aid to more than five million refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Biased Trump

Faid Mustafa, Palestinian ambassador to Turkey, said the Trump administration was offering “unlimited” support for the Israeli occupation.

Speaking at the panel, Mustafa said in his first year, Trump “was listening to the arguments of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas”.

“Trump promised that he was going to come up with a solution to the Palestinian cause, before he took his shocking move of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he said.

Trump “is antagonizing moves against the Palestinian cause, forcing us [Palestinian leadership] to cut all contacts with his administration,” he added.

The current U.S. administration, Mustafa said, seems to be “working hand by hand with the Israeli government and the Israeli right-wing.”

Since Trump’s Jerusalem move, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority has rejected any U.S. mediation in peace talks with Israel.

Palestinian rift

Dr. Gohkan Bozbas of ORSAM research center, for his part, called for fresh Palestinian election to end the inter-Palestinian division.

Speaking to attendees, Bozbas said the exit of the internal Palestinian rift could be only achieved by holding “free and fair elections.”

“Divisions between Hamas and Fatah groups should come to an end after 12 years of rift and this could be achieved via free and fair elections,” he said.

The Palestinian rift has begun in 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip after deadly clashes with rival Fatah group.

Last month, delegations from Hamas and Fatah held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on ending the Palestinian division. These talks were one of dozens of rounds -- in Cairo and several Arab capitals -- between Hamas and Fatah since the start of the Palestinian division, but the talks have yet to bear fruit.

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