Trump plan draws praise from Israel, criticism from Palestinians for Middle East plan
Washington (dpa) – US President Donald Trump unveiled his much-anticipated plan for the Middle East on Tuesday, drawing approval from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but opposition from the Palestinians.
While Trump did call for the creation of a Palestinian state, it would have limited territory, authority and sovereignty, and the timeline for its birth was drawn out over years. Moreover, the conditions attached raised doubts about the White House calling it a realistic plan.
The 180-page plan was unveiled as Trump faces an impeachment trial and Netanyahu has been indicted on corruption charges. The Israeli prime minister is also coming up to his third election in a year in March, adding political overtones to the White House event.
The map released by the White House shows Palestinian control over some areas of the West Bank, but it would be entirely surrounded by Israel on all sides, with access routes to Jordan.
Jewish settlements on the West Bank would fall under Israeli control, as would the entire Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu, speaking after Trump at the presentation, said Israel will “apply its laws to the Jordan Valley” and to all other Jewish settlements in the West Bank that the US has agreed to recognize as part of Israel, indicating he plans an annexation.
“These areas will now be recognized by the United States as a permanent part of the Jewish State,” he said.
Netanyahu did agree to a four-year freeze on creating new settlements in areas that the plan foresees as potentially being part of a Palestinian state.
With regards to the thorny issue of Jerusalem, Trump said the proposal would ensure the city will “stay united” under Israeli control, but that sections will be carved out for a Palestinian capital. The US will eventually open an embassy in East Jerusalem, he said.
Trump said the US would invest in the Palestinian territory, seeking to double growth and cut unemployment by half. He pledged to stream 50 billion dollars in international financing to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu called Trump the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the White House. “It’s not even close,” he said.
The Palestinians would have to agree to demilitarization and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, a sensitive subject, in part due to the large Arab minority inside Israel.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, a top Democrat, slammed the Republican president’s proposal, dubbing it an “anti-peace plan” that has excluded the Palestinians.
“Claiming to advance peace without the involvement of one party to the conflict is a diplomatic hoax that undermines the chance of a genuine two-state solution,” he said.
The plan could potentially further erode historic bipartisan support for Israel, with Democrats increasingly upset with Netanyahu over his hardline approach and proximity to the Republican Party in recent years.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiating unit declared that Washington’s “plan recognizes Israel’s illegal colonization and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine.”
The Palestinians are in a bind, facing the prospect that an outright rejection could accelerate Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements, according to the Washington Institute, a think tank that generally leans towards Israeli views but has been sceptical of the Trump proposal.
Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official who works at the CNAS think-tank, referred to core aspects of the plan as “absolute non-starters.”
The Arab American Institute called the plan a “shame” and a “disgrace.” Yousef Munayyer, from the US-based Palestinian Campaign for Human Rights, warned the deal would lead to “apartheid.”
The Middle East Institute, a Washington think-tank, warned that the plan would kill the two-state solution.
Arab League foreign ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on Saturday to discuss the plan.
Hundreds of Palestinians protested in the Gaza Strip ahead of the unveiling of the plan. Hamas, the militant Islamist group which controls the coastal enclave, slammed the Trump proposal as a “hostile deal.”
©2020 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)
Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.