Trump’s Peace Plan; Palestinian Reaction; and Israel’s Response

In a surprise move, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed his long-awaited Middle East peace plan. The plan establishes Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, with the possibility of a Palestinian capital east or north of the city. The plan also recognizes most Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In exchange, the Palestinians will receive territory near Gaza. They would also receive several border towns where Palestinians currently hold Israeli citizenship, raising the possibility those Palestinians would lose that citizenship. Although the plan offers the Palestinians a path towards statehood, it gives sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, intended to be the heart of a Palestinian state, to Israel, leaving the Palestinians with a series of linked districts. The plan also denies the Palestinians a standing army, while Israel retains security control over the region. The plan also sets conditions on the Palestinians, including the “complete dismantling of Hamas.” Finally, the plan refuses a “right of return” to homes Palestinians lost during prior conflicts. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Further reported by The Guardian. Read more…

More Reported by The Wall Street Journal. Read more…

As Reported by the BBC. Read more…

Read the plan here.

Trump also said that his plan was “overly good” to the Palestinians. Nonetheless, as Trump walked dignitaries and press through the details of the plan, it was the Israelis who were delighted, rising to provide a standing ovation to Trump. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Trump also confirmed that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided capital. The plan also more than doubles the Palestinians territory. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Prior to his reveal, Trump invited Israeli leaders to Washington, D.C. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Before leaving for the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet he hoped to “make history” when he visited the White House. Netanyahu told them that his close ties with Trump presented Israel with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Israel should “not miss.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Trump met with Israeli leaders ahead of the unveiling of the plan. Even before its unveiling, the plan and timing drew criticism. Jordan’s Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, described the plan to the Jordanian cabinet as “a plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect Netanyahu from prison.” He concluded that “It is not a Middle East peace plan.” Both Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz had private meetings with Trump. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Trump announced the plan would be revealed at noon Washington time on Monday, January 27, 2020. Trump described the plan as “a very big plan.” Early leaks indicated the plan would favor Israel, but that the Palestinians could obtain statehood. David Elhayani, a prominent settler figurehead who accompanied Israeli leaders on their visit, disapproved of any kind of statehood for the Palestinians, saying that Netanyahu “tried to sell us on the idea that it wouldn’t really be a Palestinian state.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

Analysts believe Trump’s plan could make the creation of a Palestinian state more difficult. Response to the plan was mixed to critical. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres stated that he had seen the announcement, but that “the position of the United Nations on the two-state solution has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant security council and general assembly resolutions by which the secretariat is bound.” One EU diplomat expressed concern that the plan green lighted Israel’s annexation of settlements. France said it would “carefully study” the U.S. proposals, while the U.K.’s prime minster, Boris Johnson, stated, “What the PM has said, and the foreign secretary as well, is that they are serious proposals for peace and that they therefore deserve a fair hearing.” Hugh Lovatt, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, blasted the plan, saying “Despite its appropriation of the two-state label, the United States is not offering Israelis and Palestinians a viable and peaceful future in their own states. Instead, its proposal would cement a one-state reality of open-ended occupation and unequal rights for Palestinians.” Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group, said, “Strip away the domestic and Israeli political considerations that determined the timing of the plan’s release and the message to the Palestinians, boiled down to its essence, is: ’you’ve lost, get over it.’” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

The Palestinians reacted with anger and frustration to the plan. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said “After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no’s to the Deal of The Century.” Abbas also said that “We will not kneel and we will not surrender” and that Palestinians would resist through “peaceful, popular means.” Terror group Hamas rejected the plan, calling it a conspiracy, and said “all options are open.” Reported by AP. Read more…

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan also castigated the plan, “Jerusalem is sacred for Muslims. The plan to give Jerusalem to Israel is absolutely unacceptable. This plan ignores Palestinians’ rights and is aimed at legitimizing Israel’s occupation.” He also said that “The plan outlined will not serve peace or bring about a solution.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “To the dismay of US politicians, the satanic, evil US policy about Palestine — the so-called Deal Of The Century— will never bear fruit, by the grace of God.” Khamenei said that the “issue of Palestine will never be forgotten” and that “The Palestinian nation and all Muslim nations will definitely stand up to them and not allow the so-called Deal Of The Century to be realized.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Reaction in the Middle East was muted. Jordan stated that it remained committed to a two-state solution based on Israel’s pre-1967 lines. Jordan also obliquely warned Israel against annexation, saying it rejected any unilateral moves by Israel. Egypt urged the Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan, while Saudi Arabia recommended a return to negotiations. The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador tweeted that his country “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Qatar stated that it “welcomes all efforts aiming towards a longstanding peace in the Palestinian territories, appreciating the endeavors of the current US administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” Qatar added, however, “Qatar reaffirms its commitment for supporting the Palestinian institutions, noting that peace cannot be sustainable if Palestinians rights in their sovereign state… including East Jerusalem, and the right of return are not preserved.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Progressive Democrats blasted the plan. Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called it “shameful and disingenuous,” saying, “They could have guaranteed justice, and brought everyone into this peace deal. Instead, these two embattled heads of state, impeached and indicted, have a ‘just us’ peace deal.” She added, “This is not a peace plan. It is theft. It is erasure.” Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American congresswoman from Michigan said it was fitting that the plan was released “by a forever impeached President on the same day that Netanyahu was indicted for corruption.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Democratic presidential hopefuls also condemned the plan. Former vice-president Joe Biden called the plan unproductive. “A peace plan requires two sides to come together. This is a political stunt that could spark unilateral moves to annex territory and set back peace even more. I’ve spent a lifetime working to advance the security & survival of a Jewish and democratic Israel. This is not the way.” Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Senator from Vermont and one of Biden’s chief rivals said an agreement “must end the Israeli occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent state of their own alongside a secure Israel. Trump’s so-called ‘peace deal’ doesn’t come close, and will only perpetuate the conflict. It is unacceptable.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Even Israelis protested the plan, saying “Annexation is a disaster, no peace, no security.” The protesters gathered in Tel Aviv. The protesters were also against ‘transfer,’ which refers to the possibility of drawing the border of a future Palestinian state to include several Arab-Israeli towns Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

At the same time hundreds of Arab Israelis protested in the northern Israel town of Baqa al-Gharbiya against the plan’s proposal to redraw borders to include minority towns in a future Palestinian state. The protest was attended by members of the Arab Joint List party. Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen said the idea of transferring Arab Israeli towns to Palestinian control was once seen as “marginal and delusional” but was “now being adopted by the mainstream of the Israeli and American right.” Jabareen continued, “Together with the thousands here today, we are protesting against the dangerous initiatives of annexation, apartheid and transfer.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and architect of the plan, was less than pleased with the Palestinian reaction to the plan. In a scathing interview with Al Jazeera, Kushner said, “It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen.” Kushner also blasted Palestinian leadership, “The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,” he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Later in the week, Kushner said that the Palestinian response to the plan shows they are not ready for statehood. Kushner said in a Fox and Friends interview that the ball was now in the Palestinians’ court. He urged critics to give the plan a chance. Of the plan itself, Kushner said, “Trump got them the best offer they ever had.” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, said that he expects Trump’s plan to proceed after Israel’s upcoming elections. It is no secret Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports the plan. Netanyahu’s chief rival, Benny Gantz, was an unknown quantify before the plan’s reveal. However, Gantz met with Trump the day before the announcement, says Pompeo. According to Pompeo, Gantz said that, “he thought it made sense and was something he would be happy to engage in and something he thought would make real sense for Israel in that it continued to provide the security Israel needed.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Meanwhile, Israel is moving to begin the process of annexing West Bank Jewish settlements. Israeli defense minister Naftali Bennett has announced the creation of a special team to lead the effort. He also called for the Interim government to begin annexing settlements immediately, before the March 2 elections. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would bring a vote on annexation before the cabinet on Sunday, February 2, Transport Minister Yariv Levin said the vote would not occur because there remained some preliminary work to be done. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

The Arab League unanimously rejected Trump’s plan less than a week after it was announced. The League called the plan “unfair” to the Palestinians. Formally, the League said that it “rejects the US-Israeli ‘deal of the century’ considering that it does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.” Arab leaders also promised “not to… cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan.” The League also addressed Israeli plans to annex settlements in the West Bank, warning Israel not to act unilaterally. “Israel will be solely responsible for the consequences of such policies,” the League said, promising to call on the international community to thwart such action. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…

The Trump administration quickly responded to the Arab League vote, saying that it would not benefit the Palestinian people. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

During the meeting, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told members he believed U.S. President Donald Trump knows nothing about the plan he revealed. Instead, Abbas, says, it was Jared Kushner, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and special envoy Jason Greenblatt who devised the plan. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The Palestinian Authority cut all ties with Israel and the United States. The cut includes security cooperation. Abbas made the announcement during the Arab League meeting, saying, “We’ve informed the Israeli side … that there will be no relations at all with them and the United States including security ties.” Reported by The Guardian. Read more…