Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-03-29
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

This year AIPAC's celebrations seemed very different from previous years, not only in terms of the enormous crowd (18,000 participants), but also in the nature of discourse that dominated the speeches delivered by figures euphoric at Trump's decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

The least that can be said about this discourse is that it undermines all of U.S. foreign policy's stable and accumulated checks and balances. The least that can be said about this discourse as well is that it lays the foundations for a new phase in Israel's policies and views of the Palestinian problem and the Arab/Israeli conflict.

This discourse may be best described as 'Trumpism'. And this phase of U.S. foreign policy may be best described as 'Trump's moment'; one that may last for two terms for a president who has just escaped the clutches of Special Counsel Mueller, and whose prospects of returning to the White House have been enhanced, and with whom we may have to live till 2024.

What is certain is that he prefers to spend this phase in the company of Binyamin Netanyahu at the head of the Israeli government. This is why he has granted him all the 'ammunition' he needs for managing his election campaign. We may thus also have to live with Netanyahu and his right and extreme right-wing government till 2023.

This would certainly be sufficient time to test the new rules that will determine both U.S. and Israeli policies. And it seems that his ambassador in Jerusalem is rushing to exploit 'Trump's moment' till the very last drop. For, from David Friedman's point of view, there is no guarantee that future U.S. administrations would emulate Trump by granting Israel everything it wishes and would avoid punishing it even if it were to violate or totally disregard the rules that govern Washington's Middle East policy.

In his speech to AIPAC, Freidman addressed the concept of 'peace that comes through strength, and not just through words on paper'. This is the principle on which U.S. policy towards the Arabs and the Israelis is based. Having previously convinced the administration to stop describing the West Bank and the Golan Heights as Israeli-controlled lands rather than 'occupied territories', and later as lands under Israeli sovereignty, Freidman not only fails to mention a Palestinian state and the Palestinians' right to self-determination, he goes further and tends to use the 'biblical term' for the West Bank: Judea and Samaria.

This is Washington's ambassador to Israel whose loyalty to Israel Trump knows is deeper than his loyalty to the U.S. This became clear when Trump joked with him during the Golan Heights signing ceremony: 'You love Israel a lot, don't you?' This is Washington's ambassador, who devotes most of his time to attacking liberal Jews who speak of a two-state solution, describing them as 'traitors' and sometimes as 'kapos' – Jews who cooperated with Nazism in sending their brothers to incinerators and gas chambers. This is the American/Zionist/settler, the official sponsor of 'Judea and Samaria's' settlements.

For his part, and at the height of his ecstasy at the second occupation of the Golan Heights – which he believes will be 'permanent' this time around – Netanyahu went some distance in 'elaborating' on Friedman's statements. He believes that 'one of the principles of international relations is that, when you start a war of aggression and lose land, you no longer can or have the right to demand that land back again… the land is ours.' But it is certain that he not only has the Golan Heights in mind here. His statements may have been on the occasion of Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights; but his eye is focused on the West Bank – or, rather, Judea and Samaria.

The conclusion Netanyahu has revealed is implicit in his statements: Everyone says it is impossible to keep an occupied territory; but look, this is possible. The land ended up with us in a defensive war. And here, Netanyahu is certainly does not talking about the Golan Heights; he has already ensured that they will be in his pocket and has kept the pen that Trump used to sign the decision. He means the West Bank, most of it, and most probably all of it.

Force in place of justice as the basic foundation for peace and the permissibility of holding onto others' lands that were occupied by force: These are the two foundational constituents of the 'Trump Doctrine' in foreign policy.

That is a message to those who continue to bury their heads in the sand.