Trump Middle East plan: Palestinians reject ‘conspiracy’

With Secret Ink - London

Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Trump said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians. The plan envisages a Palestinian state and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over occupied West Bank settlements , including Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley.

Trump said Jerusalem would remain Israel’s “undivided” capital, but the Palestinian capital would “include areas of East Jerusalem”. The plan envisions the capital of a Palestinian state in portions of East Jerusalem located beyond existing walls, which Israel says it needs for security, that cut it off from the heart of the city. The plan suggests naming it Al Quds, the Arabic word for Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is home to major holy sites for Muslims, Jews and Christians. The status quo for these sites would be preserved, including Jordan’s role as custodian of the Muslim sites.

The map of Jerusalem before December 6, 2017, the day Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as a capital of Israel.

The plan limits the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state. Israel would be in charge of maintaining security over the state of Palestine, which would be “fully demilitarized.” of the West Bank. ”

Both sides have fundamentally different ideas as to where the boundaries of a potential Palestinian state should be. The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967. Israel says those lines are militarily indefensible and were never intended to be permanent. It has not said where borders should be, other than making clear its own eastern border should be along the Jordan River.

”Israel will have the overriding security responsibility and control over the entire territory, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” Trump’s lawyer David Friedman told reporters.

Israel has settled about 400,000 Jews in West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 living in East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not consistent with international law and has long been a major source of dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump heralded the plan as a “historic breakthrough,” even though the Palestinian leadership, which severed relations with the U.S. administration as it took a series of pro-Israel moves, rejected it before the proposal was formally released.

“After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they ever have,” Trump said at a joint briefing at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides — a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security.”

In June, the White House released the first half of its peace proposal: a $50 billion investment plan billed as a “new vision” for the Palestinian territories. The U.S. made the creation of the investment fund contingent upon Palestinian acceptance of the second, political part of the peace plan, released Tuesday.

Reacting to Tuesday’s announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Jerusalem was “not for sale”.”All our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain,” he added.”

”This conspiracy deal will not pass. Our people will take it to the dustbin of history,” Abbas said after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah of various Palestinian factions including Islamist group Hamas. The militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, also rejected the deal which it said aimed “to liquidate the Palestinian national project”.

Some analysts questioned the merits of the plan. “While Trump claims a revolutionary approach to the peace process, this plan actually recycles past failed efforts: it places Palestinians on probation while they prove their worthiness of statehood, using conditions that are malleable and ill-defined; it seeks to induce Palestinian capitulation through economic largesse; and it removes the onus on Israel to make any concessions until Palestinians declare their full surrender,” Tareq Baconi, Israel/Palestine analyst for International Crisis Group, said in a statement.

The UN says its agencies support about 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (the Palestinian Authority says there are up to 6 million), including the descendants of people who fled or were expelled by Jewish forces from what became Israel in the 1948-49 war. Palestinians insist on their right to return to their former homes, but Israel says they are not entitled to, noting that such a move would overwhelm it demographically and lead to its end as a Jewish state.

Under the plan, “there shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel.” Rather, the refugees would be absorbed into a Palestinian state or integrated into their current host countries. Additionally, up to 50,000 Palestinians may be accepted by Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries.

The proposal will “endeavor to raise a fund to provide some compensation to Palestinian refugees,” without specifying where the money might come from.

Trump said that no Israelis or Palestinians would be uprooted from their homes. According to the plan, Israeli “enclaves,” or settlements, “located inside contiguous Palestinian territory will become part of the State of Israel and be connected through an effective transportation system.” A map included in the plan shows 15 such enclaves.

Palestinian protesters carried pictures of Mahmoud Abbas through the streets of Ramallah on Tuesday

Trump’s proposal included a long list of measures directly in line with Israeli interests, which triggered immediate condemnation on the streets of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with demonstrations expected to continue through the week.

An AFP reporter said around 200 Palestinians confronted Israeli forces near Ramallah, burning photos of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Thirteen people were wounded in the West Bank in clashes with the Israeli army on Tuesday, the Red Crescent said.

One person was taken to hospital after being hit with a rubber bullet, while 12 others were suffering from exposure to tear gas, a spokeswoman said.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged the Palestinians to give the plans “genuine and fair consideration and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations”. A spokesman for UN Secretary General António Guterres called for a peace deal on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.

The Arab League said it would hold an urgent meeting on Saturday.

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