On August 24, the United States revealed a plan to cut more than $200 million in funds initially allocated to Gaza and the West Bank, diverting them to other policy priorities. On August 31, the United States stopped sending aid money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees. On Monday, September 10, the Trump Administration announced that, since the Palestinian Liberation Organization “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” its Washington DC office would be closed.
Over the past year, a steady slew of policy changes such as sanctions, embassy relocations and the diversion of funds has had many pro-Israel advocates cheering for what they believe to be long overdue recognition and support of Israel’s right to exist. However, many other Americans are angered by what they see as human rights violations. Palestinians claim that the United States’ new policies demonstrate that, should the United States suggest a new Israel-Palestinian peace plan, it would be unfairly biased towards Israel.
Instead, the question should be: if, in the future, we would like to see some sort of peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, what can we do in the present to keep that option open?
In this instance, however, both sides are wrong. The question is not which side is right: the debate is far too complex to merit a black and white answer. Instead, the question should be: if, in the future, we would like to see some sort of peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, what can we do in the present to keep that option open? With that question in mind, I believe the Trump Administration’s recent actions against the Palestinians can only be detrimental towards the prospect of peace due to their unilateral nature and disregard for the nationalist sentiments that will inevitably arise.
The Trump Administration fails to understand the long-term implications of draining the Palestinians’ resources in order to force them into a peace treaty they are not interested in joining. While the United States may be able to use brute force to bring the Palestinians to the table, brute force won’t induce the Palestinians to coexist peacefully with their neighbors. Instead, it will only spur resentment at the perceived unfairness, which, as history tells us, will only lead to more violence, nationalist sentiments, and terrorism. It is in both the Palestinians’ and Israel’s interest for any peace agreement to be palatable to both parties, something that seems impossible. It may be that we do not see a peace agreement for ten or twenty years. However, that is better than the alternative.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy solution. If there was, then we would not be at this point. I think there are, however, better solutions than the stance that America is currently taking. For one, historical precedent is everything. History repeats itself, and this is not the first time that a peace negotiation has been forced (South Sudan, China, North Korea, etc). Also, compromise is key to stability. A unilateral agreement might benefit Israel in the short term, but if Israel is to last longer than the next ten years, it needs to think bigger. The United States has the opportunity to create what has not yet been accomplished: a sustainable, stable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The agreement they are working on right now is not that. However, there is still time to reverse course—to listen to the Palestinians, as well as Israel. To offer something that will allow the Palestinians and Israel to coexist. Let us hope that they do so before it is too late, for everyone’s sake.
Madison Hahamy is a senior at Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, Ill. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.