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Not For Sale
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
February 17, 2018

The Trump administration has escalated its aggression against the Palestinian people and its national rights, and adopted a sequential policy that has begun with official positions in which these rights have been written off and now they have reached the point of trying to impose them and turn them into facts on the ground.

In this context, the US administration is exerting its utmost pressure on the Arab countries, especially, the concerned with the settlement according to the "Deal of the Century" to be active in "persuading" the Palestinian side to accept the American plan that fully reflects the Israeli vision.

In this context also, the visit of Mike Pence, US vice president, to the region, who has reaffirmed from the Knesset platform, the partnership between Washington and Tel Aviv in politics and goals, to the extent that Israeli Minister Ofir Akunis concluded that Israel has not seen, a Zionist speech, in its history by an official that visited it as what was stated in Pence's speech.

The US administration has not paid much attention to the consensus of its opponents and allies in the Security Council on rejecting the Trump Declaration regarding the City of Jerusalem, nor to the vote of 128 countries that have taken the same position in the UN General Assembly.

So, instead of reconsidering its accounts, it has escalated its language of threat and vowed to apply financial and economic sanctions against those who opposed its policies, depending on its economic power and strong influence in deciding the policies of the IMF and the World Bank. Paradoxically, most of the poor countries, threatened by Washington, are victims of the policies of these two institutions, through the unfair conditions they impose when accepting their requests for loans. One of these conditions, is the imposition of the adjustment and structuring for their economies and directing their spending, out of the path of development process, to meet an essential function of ensuring their abilities to repay loans, and thus, the economy revolves in these countries, to meet this function, away from the achievement of an economic and human development, providing food security for their communities and the establishment of a sustainable development.

These countries are thus in double deficit: the inability to repay loans due to high-rate interests and the catastrophic consequences of the solutions of these two institutions, and the inability to meet the needs of their communities ,and thus become hostage to the American "aids". Then, they lose their sovereignty on their political decision and Washington finds its way to control the decision of these countries and their wills.

Within the determinants of this equation, the United States has dealt with the United Nations organizations, at the forefront "UNRWA". And it was keen to be the largest contributors in funding it, and tried in the decades following the start of the Agency's work, to direct the course of services provided for Palestinian refugees, to resettle them in their places, and these attempts were accompanied by continuous operations of resettlement projects. Although it was the largest contributor, to meet the Agency's financial needs, the United States was not eager to cover UNRWA's expenses, related to refugee relief or to restore some of their rights to the education and health care of their children, or to alleviate the impact of the Nakba and its repercussions.

Since the signing of Oslo Accords, Washington has been pressuring for the restructuring of the Agency's functions and programs, which leads to its disengagement from UN Resolution 194, which was confirmed by its establishment resolution and guaranteed the continuation of providing its services to refugees, till their return.

From this perspective, the Trump administration's policy comply with the policies of the administrations that preceded it, but the qualitative shift that this administration has made, is that it has put all the Palestinian and international institutions, related to the Palestinian issue, in the range of its pressure, in order to subject the Palestinian political and popular situation to the entitlements of the "Deal of the Century".

It has begun this through Greenblatt's nine conditions, which were conveyed to the Palestinian Authority, starting with the demand to cut the allocations of the families of the martyrs and prisoners, directing the security services to confront the popular resistance, to the financial restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

With regard to the international institutions, Washington announced its withdrawal from UNESCO, because of its adoption of resolutions in favor of the Palestinian people. This withdrawal means, in addition to its political dimension; that this institution is missing the large US financial contribution in its budget, accompanied by the reduction of US contribution to the budget of the United Nations, after the members of the Security Council voted against the decision of Trump on Jerusalem, and the vote of the General Assembly of the United Nations in the same direction.

But the most influential step on the Palestinians was the recent US decision to freeze $100 million from UNRWA's budget, which means serious repercussions on the level of services provided by the Agency for Palestinian refugees, as it is already suffering from a periodic deficit in its budgets.

The American position considers the contribution in funding the United Nations and its institutions as a "sovereign right", and not a commitment before the international community and a presumed partnership in resolving or decreasing the consequences of many humanitarian and social crises elsewhere in the world.

But as for the contribution in funding UNRWA, it is more than that, as the international community and the United States are responsible for the continuation of the consequences of the Palestinian Nakba, the inability of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, and keeping Israel out of legal and political responsibility for not implementing its commitment to the "Lausanne Protocol" to apply resolution 194, which was one of the most important conditions set by the international community to accept the occupation state as a member in the United Nations.

So, as much as the European colonial states, at the forefront Britain, were a decisive factor in supporting the Zionist project and the establishment of the occupation state in Palestine, as much as Washington bears responsibility through its support for the Balfour Declaration, and then pressuring for the recognition of Israel in the United Nations and then protecting it, until the issue with the Trump administration has reached to a partnership with it in an attempt to impose the elimination of the Palestinian issue and subjecting the Palestinian people to Israeli expansionist and security policy.

On the other hand, the expansion of international objections to the policies of the Trump administration on the Palestinian issue, is seen from the perspective of the international community realization that these policies will increase the situation of Palestinian anger inside and outside the occupied territories, and that the continuation of these policies and pressure for their implementation will necessarily lead to the explosion of the situation in incalculable directions, and this is what worries many influential countries in Europe and elsewhere.

Among the Strong reactions to Trump's administration decisions towards UNRWA, was by a clear statement by its Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, who clearly stated on behalf of this international organization that the agency's mandate is not for sale or discussion.

In such international political atmosphere, the Palestinian official leadership supposes to commit to the National Consensus in the Central Council in 2015 and the positive decisions adopted at its last session through aborting the policies that led to the Oslo Accords, and responding to the need of elaborating a new unified Palestinian strategy, linked with the titles of the national liberation program.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is an Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by Rawda Abo Zarqa
Revised by Ibrahim Motlaq

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