Capitalism incapable of solving the national question

Israel Palestine wall, photo Justin McIntosh/CC

Israel Palestine wall, photo Justin McIntosh/CC   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Trump’s declaration of unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as only Israel’s capital, while ignoring the right of the Palestinians for a state with a capital in Jerusalem, has ignited a wave of protest around the world, and has already increased the death toll. The announcement was celebrated by Israel’s right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a time when he faces huge public protests over corruption charges. Shahar Benhorin and Yasha Marmer of Socialist Struggle Movement (sister organisation of the Socialist Party in Israel/Palestine), explain recent developments.

So far, four Palestinians killed, many hundreds wounded, rockets on Israel’s south, bombardments in the Gaza strip: Trump’s arrogant declaration is already stained with blood.

The declaration accepts the demand of the Israeli regime for unilateral recognition of divided and poverty-stricken Jerusalem as Israel’s capital only – and in fact recognition of the status quo of continuing occupation in east Jerusalem, while denying the right of the Palestinians to a state with its capital in Jerusalem.

Trump has torn off the fake mask of ‘honest broker’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the face of US imperialism.

Trump’s decision ignited justified protests around the world and especially among the Palestinians. Tens of thousands protested in Amman (Jordan’s capital), while thousands protested in a whole number of cities in the region and around the globe.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in east Jerusalem in parallel with a declared commercial strike there. Thousands more in Ramallah with protests being organised in several places in the Gaza strip and throughout the West Bank. Within the green line (in Israel), many thousands protested in Umm al-Fahm and further protest marches with hundreds of participants took place in Jaljulia, Kafr Kanna, Qalansuwa, Nazareth and other towns.

The death toll from Trump’s move may rise in the coming days and weeks as a result of military repression of Palestinian protesters, Israeli demonstrative retribution bombardments in the Gaza strip, and indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians.

Socialists condemn Trump and his right-wing Israeli counterparts for fomenting violence and consolidating the repressive occupation of Palestinian territories. We stand four square for the right of Palestinians to their own state.

25 years after the Oslo ‘peace accords’ it’s clear that the capitalist powers internationally have proved incapable of resolving the Palestinian/Israeli national conflict.

Only a socialist movement in both Israel and Palestine can offer the prospect of a just and permanent solution to the national aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis, and an end to the mass poverty and economic misery in the region.

The security of ordinary Palestinians and Israelis is of no concern to the Trump administration and its partners in Netanyahu’s government. The readiness of the Israeli government to defend the continuation of the occupation at all costs can by itself now open another chapter of significant and ongoing escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and aggravate regional tensions.

Israel’s prime minister, president and the leaders of establishment “opposition” parties, Avi Gabbay and Yair Lapid, praised Trump’s demagogy.

The representatives of the settlers-leaning right wing interpret it as a green light for the continued expansion of the settlements and “judaisation” of the Palestinian neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem; for systematic house demolitions, for oppression and expropriation of Palestinians.

Steps that aim to prevent any possibility of establishing a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem have long had silent backing from US administrations, accompanied by only lip-service condemnations.

Trump has turned the silent backup to being vocal and provocative. When he says that his administration will support a ‘two-states solution’ if agreed by both sides, he makes clear that he is ready to support the idea of the establishment of a Palestinian state only if agreed by Israel’s government.

Allegedly, Trump is not taking a position on the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.But in fact he gives clear support for the continuation of the violent and unilateral takeover of the east side of the city by the Israeli regime in collaboration with the settlers’ organisations.


Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defence Mattis and CIA director Pompeo were among those who opposed Trump’s declaration. They are afraid the interests of US imperialism will be damaged as a result of a resurgence of rage against the US on an international scale, damage to relations with regimes in the region, a further deterioration of regional stability, and weakened US influence on the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Trump plans to reveal in the coming months a new road map plan which he claims will solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he is using his recent move to step up the pressure on the PA to accept all his diktats.

However, applying pressure on the PA in such an open and blunt manner undermines even further any basis for advancement of his “deal of the century”. Until the recent declaration, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas vigorously ingratiated himself with Trump and even stated in September: “We are on the verge of real peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

The PA’s elite is in a dead end in terms of strategy. It fears the development of mass popular protest and there’s no other world imperialist power that would be accepted by the Israeli regime to ‘sponsor’ negotiations.

As for the leaders of Hamas, they hoped, as was explained at the time by Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, that Trump’s administration would provide the Palestinians with a “special opportunity”, as it has “greater threshold for boldness” than those before it.

They put their hope in the ‘reconciliation process’ with Fatah (Abbas’s party) sponsored by Sisi’s regime in Egypt, but that process has not taken off so far. The PA refuses to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Gaza, and Hamas refuses to disarm.

Without presenting any solution for Gaza, Hamas calls for a new intifada (uprising) in the West Bank territories and Jerusalem, aiming to cover up for its lack of a credible strategy to take the Palestinian struggle forward.


The idea of a significant uprising against the occupation regime has had widespread support for some time already among the Palestinians in the 1967 territories (lands seized by Israel in the 1967 war). But at the same time, there’s heavy pessimism regarding the potential achievements in the struggle.

In July, an uprising of thousands of protesters in east Jerusalem managed to defeat an arrogant provocation by Netanyahu’s government – an attack on the freedom of worship and movement in the ancient city, dubbed by the Israeli press the ‘metal detectors crisis’.

It’s not clear at this stage if these Palestinian ‘rage’ protests will develop into a wider and prolonged uprising. But wide protest, on a mass scale, that will defy the dictatorship of the occupation and the settlements, is definitely necessary.

Trump and Netanyahu are ready to embroil the region in another bloody turmoil. The appropriate answer is to struggle against them and their reactionary agenda.

Significant protests in the Palestinian territories and throughout the region, and big demonstrations within the green line including joint demonstrations of Jews and Arabs against the occupation and for peace, are essential to block the warmongers and to wreck the efforts to perpetuate the occupation.

The struggle for peace demands a wide struggle against the occupation, and for political programmes in the interests of ordinary people on both sides of the national divide.

Netanyahu tries to seize on Trump’s declaration to divert attention, not only from the just arguments of those who oppose the occupation but also from the big anti-corruption protest movement that has recently emerged against his rule, and from a range of social miseries.

But with the background of the international protests and the military repression against the Palestinian protesters, there’s a need to mobilise solidarity and widen the protests, including from within the movement against corruption in Israel and the Israeli workers’ and student organisations.

As part of the struggle against the occupation and for peace, Socialist Struggle Movement calls for the establishment of two national capitals in Jerusalem, while ensuring a life of wellbeing, equal rights, freedom of movement, freedom of worship and freedom from religious coercion.

In the context of two socialist, democratic and equal states, it will be possible to create a reality that will enable the city to really flourish as a pluralist city without poverty-stricken ghettos, without discrimination and without concrete walls.

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