1. Statement
  2. Middle East & Iran

A Leap Backwards in the Middle East

By Diane Randall, January 30, 2020


There was a time when the United States sought to portray itself as an honest broker for peace between Israelis and Palestinians; a seeker of solutions that would be acceptable to all sides. That role has virtually disappeared, as Congress and successive U.S. administrations sided unequivocally with Israel.

The Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century,” released yesterday, abandons any remaining pretense that the U.S. wishes to act as a fair and neutral mediator. The plan’s main effect will be to provide Israel with U.S. blessing to permanently and formally annex parts of the West Bank, in violation of international law.

The plan announced on Jan. 29 by the White House disregards the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people, who have been forced into ever more unlivable conditions and ever fewer legal rights and protections.

Quakers have long worked for Middle East peace between Israel and Palestine, alongside Jewish, Arab and other communities in the Middle East, to de-escalate and resolve longstanding conflicts. Our faith and practice lead us to respect the equality and dignity of all people, reduce human suffering, and remove the threats of violent conflict.

We work for peace. We know that disputes among peoples and governments must be solved through diplomacy, the rule of law, and international cooperation. Accordingly, the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a priority for FCNL and for Quakers around the world.

Yet the plan announced on Jan. 29 by the White House does little to advance peace or justice. It disregards the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Palestinian people, who have been forced into ever more unlivable conditions and ever fewer legal rights and protections.

The plan provides no hope for generations of Palestinians who have known only exclusion and oppression. Rather, it seems designed to legitimize Israel’s long-term subjugation of the Palestinian people and drive a partisan wedge between Israel’s supporters in the United States.

The decision to release the political element of the plan this week can only be interpreted as a diversionary tactic from the impeachment proceedings of President Trump in the U.S. Senate and a distraction from the bribery charges faced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both leaders are facing increasing scrutiny from dissatisfied electorates.

The Trump administration’s proposed deal reflects none of the key components of successful diplomacy:

  • It was not drawn up with the participation and cooperation of both sides, including women, youth, and other affected populations.
  • It does not provide an equitable balance of gains for each side nor require a comparable level of sacrifice.
  • It was not shaped in accordance with international law, and
  • it contains no semblance of impartiality.

While FCNL supports diplomacy as the only path to a peaceful and just solution in the Middle East, we believe that this process, like the outcome, was fatally flawed.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.