(15 May 2020) BADIL Position Paper: Trump’s Vision/Deal of the Century: A Move to End the Palestinian Refugee Issue through Serious Breaches of International Law

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Bethlehem, Palestine, 15 May 2020. BADIL releases its latest position paper, Trump’s Vision/Deal of the Century: A Move to End the Palestinian Refugee Issue through Serious Breaches of International Law. This paper provides an analysis of the proposal provided for the Palestinian refugee issue in US President Trump’s plan, officially titled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”, or more commonly known as the “Deal of the Century”.  Throughout this analysis, it is demonstrated how the Vision sets out to deny Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) their right of return, property restitution, and compensation — all of which constitute serious breaches of international law. Instead of aligning with the durable and just solutions entitled to Palestinian refugees, the Vision completely neglects the rights of IDPs, reduces the number of eligible refugees, and presents options that have vague, ambiguous, and arbitrary – not to mention illegal - foundations. With this type of formulation, it becomes clear that the Vision is more concerned with catering to Israel’s strategy than either holding Israel accountable for its perpetuation of the Palestinian refugees’ ongoing plight or providing justice to displaced Palestinians.

Of particular interest is the Vision’s proclaimed “pragmatic” approach which assumes supremacy over international standards, laws, and United Nations (UN) resolutions. This approach does not only threaten the international legal system and construct it as a framework detached from reality, but it also denies the Palestinian people their inalienable rights. In fact, the Vision constitutes the US administration’s most recent attempt to legitimize Israel’s systematic policies of annexation, colonization, forcible transfer, and apartheid. More so, this Trumpian proposition embodies the newest political addition to previous American efforts to erode the rights of displaced Palestinians and to exempt both Israel and the international community from bearing responsibility towards Palestinian refugees and IDPs.

In light of this, it is critical for the international community to refrain from treating a unilateral American proposal that packages pragmatism and political realism as a win-win situation. Importantly, the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination is not exceptional and should not be constructed as unrealistic, impractical, and unachievable by biased third-party state actors. As such, the international community must adopt a rights-based approach and solution for the Palestinian refugee issue specifically and Palestinian self-determination collectively. Additionally, it is essential to reaffirm that the right of return is the most practical solution for Palestinian refugees and IDPs as it constitutes the only durable solution that is a right and a foundation of real and just peace. Conclusively, the Palestinian refugee plight to return is neither exceptional nor impractical as other refugee flows have desired to return to their homes and have had the opportunity to do so with the aid of the international community. For Palestinian refugees to exercise the same opportunity to access their rights constitutes not only a practical and viable solution, but a just solution as enshrined in international law.