As an organization dedicated to working for true justice and peace for Palestinians and Israelis, emphasizing political and human rights for Palestinians, the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF/PIN) condemns the plan for resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict issued by President Trump on January 28, 2020.
This plan is of paramount interest to The Episcopal Church, for the Church has lent ardent support to the parish, educational, healthcare, and hospitality ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem for a great many years. The many Palestinian Christians who are served by these ministries will be severely and adversely affected by this plan. Our baptismal covenant to seek justice for all peoples compels us to speak out on what is at stake.
Although the plan is intended as a blueprint for peace, Palestinians were given no say in its design, and it would deny them peace, freedom, and especially any kind of justice. The plan is rather a diktat imposed unilaterally on behalf of Israel to facilitate its illegal consolidation of control over all the territory of Palestine-Israel, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. It violates international law, violates Palestinian political and human rights, and in the long term, we believe, will not bring peace to Israelis.
The plan essentially puts an official US seal of endorsement on the status quo that has existed since Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967. The borders and restrictions imposed are not new, only being drawn with bolder lines on maps.
We believe, and many knowledgeable observers have noted, that this is a de jure apartheid plan. It officially separates the intertwined Jewish and Palestinian populations—each numbering seven million—along ethnic/religious lines. Far from connecting geographic areas and populations, the plan’s envisioned connecting roads, tunnels, and bridges deliberately separate rather than unite. Significantly, the plan puts a physical seal on Israel’s mid-2018 “nation state” law formally rendering it a Jewish state: the law declares Israel to be “the national home of the Jewish people” and defines the right to self-determination as “unique to the Jewish people.”
This plan is a classic example of colonialist domination, designed with the participation only of parties that have the power and the desire to implement it. Israel now has free rein to annex and continue building unopposed. Neither Palestinians nor anyone else has the power to stop any of this. Although the plan is being broadly condemned, not least by the Palestinian leadership that was excluded from its conception, only those with no power to undo it are objecting.
Major Provisions of the Plan
The plan calls for establishment of a Palestinian state, but this would not be a viable state. Limited to an archipelago of small, disconnected land segments, each surrounded by Israeli-controlled territory, the so-called state would constitute no more than 15 percent of the territory of Palestine-Israel. It would be demilitarized, with no means of self-defense and no true sovereignty over its own affairs. Existing Israeli settlements in the Palestinian areas would remain, forming separate “enclaves,” and criss-crossing Israeli-controlled roads would link the enclaves, all taking additional territory from Palestinian control.
Palestinian Israelis living in the “Triangle” area of east-central Israel would lose their Israeli citizenship, becoming disconnected citizens of the Palestinian state.
Israel would maintain sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, allowing the Palestinian “state” to establish a capital on the periphery of the city, east of the Separation Wall. Genuine Palestinian sovereignty over this so-called capital would be non-existent. Most Jerusalem Palestinians, living west of the Wall, would be given the choice of becoming citizens of either Israel or the Palestinian state, or maintaining their present status as “residents” but not citizens of Israel.
The plan has little meaningful provision for Gaza, laying responsibility for its dire humanitarian situation entirely at the feet of the Palestinians and particularly Hamas. There is no recognition of Israel’s 13-year blockade of Gaza and no mention of Israel’s three military assaults on the territory between 2008 and 2014, which killed thousands and inflicted massive destruction on residential and commercial properties. A tunnel would connect Gaza to the West Bank; there is no provision for normal entry to and exit from Gaza by land, except via this tunnel.
Palestinian refugees are treated in the plan not as a population deserving any rights or any recompense, but as a security problem for Israel: no refugees will be allowed to return to Israeli territory, and those wishing to move to Palestinian territory would be vetted as possible security risks.