Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Stirs Further Tensions

Instead of being seen as an opportunity for peace, US President Donald Trump’s one-sided “Deal Of The Century” hit Palestine like an earthquake. Supposedly aimed at furthering peace efforts in the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the deal was instead seen by Palestinians as the “slap of the century.”

More About The Deal

The deal—which gives Israel the possibility of formal annexation of occupied territories—was announced on Tuesday, January 28 by Trump in a White House gathering where Israel’s indicted President Benjamin Netanyahu was also present.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan soon after its announcement, deeming it unjust toward the Palestinian people. “Jerusalem is not for sale, our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain,” he said. “And your deal—the conspiracy—will not pass.”

Deal Falls Short Of Giving ‘Minimum Rights’ To Palestinians: Arab League

The following Saturday, the Arab League held an emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss Trump’s latest Middle East plan, which did not even meet “the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”

The Arab League also said that it would not cooperate with the United States to execute the plan, adding that Israel should not implement it by force.

In the meeting, Abbas also announced that the Palestinian Authority was cutting all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security cooperation. Palestinian Authority security forces have long cooperated with Israel in policing some areas such as in the occupied West Bank, and have also worked with other agencies such as the C.I.A. in intelligence sharing.

‘My Vision Presents A Win-Win Opportunity’: Trump

Trump and other U.S. officials said they expected Palestinians to object to the deal, but had nonetheless hoped they would find a compromise further down the line. The 181-page-long plan is said to be the product of a three-year effort by Trump’s advisers Avi Berkowitz, Jason Greenblatt and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“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,” Trump said.

Unrest In Palestine After Plan’s Unveiling

Palestinian officials denounced the plan even more as they have not had any input into it. Trump also disregarded inviting Palestinian representatives to the White House gathering on Tuesday where the plan was unveiled. Following the announcement of the plan, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Although the plan includes what Trump called a four-year freeze on new Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian soil, the plan proposes, inter alia, a U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank and of Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel, providing Israel with formal control over territories that were seized during the war or belong to the Palestinian Authority.

What Palestine Wants

Palestinians demand to have the right to build a Palestinian state —with Jerusalem as its capital— based on pre-1967 maps. According to these borders, great swathes of the land still belonged to Palestine before Israel seized them in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War.

“I will not have it in my history that I sold Jerusalem,” Abbas said.

The United States had already declared in November 2019 that it no longer regarded Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank as inconsistent with international law, whereas the vast majority of countries say they are.

Palestinian Capital To Be At Abu Dis

The plan envisions the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state that excludes occupied territories and settlements, which it would concede to Israeli control, and have its capital in Abu Dis, an impoverished village just outside Jerusalem. Abu Dis stands at the demarcation of territories by the high wall that Israel has built all through East Jerusalem.

“The physical barrier should remain in place and should serve as a border between the capitals of the two parties,” the plan stated.

The plan also required that Palestinians must agree to a security arrangement with Israel and halt attacks by the Iran-backed Hamas. Earlier this month, tensions between Iran and the United States were particularly on the rise after a drone attack that killed Iran’s second-most-powerful man Qasem Soleimani.

Those tensions also bore upon regional U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—who previously encouraged Trump’s new plan—along with Egypt, where the Arab League meeting was held. In fact, representatives from Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates took part in the White House gathering when the plan was announced.

Will The US Stick With This Peace Deal?

Critics say the United States may ultimately strike the deal as Iran’s threat looms in the region and dominates their attention, but the plan is particularly politically favorable to Trump and Netanyahu, as one goes through an impeachment trial and the second faces indictment on corruption charges.

That same Tuesday on which Trump announced the plan, Netanyahu was formally indicted in court on charges of corruption on three different cases. But Netanyahu still strives for political survival as he looks ahead to the upcoming elections—his third in less than a year—next month.

Abbas To Speak To UN Next Week

Palestine’s U.N. mission said Abbas will speak in the U.N. Security Council next week, seeking for a vote on a draft resolution on the issue within the 15-member council. But the United States is expected to veto such resolutions, which will then allow the Palestinian Authority to take the text  to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, where a vote should demonstrate the international community’s position on Trump’s deal.

Earlier, on Friday, February 31, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft warned Palestinians that objecting to the deal will only “repeat the failed pattern of the last seven decades.”

In a statement, Israel’s U.N. mission also said that it was preparing for Palestinian U.N. action and that it was “working to thwart these efforts and will lead a concerted diplomatic campaign with the United States.”