Analysts say announcement of US plan for the Middle East could shift focus of Israel’s election campaign.
After more than two years of discussions and various delays, US President Donald Trump has unveiled his long-awaited Middle East plan, which he has also referred to as the “deal of the century”.
Trump’s plan, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians, aims to revive the long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Palestinian leadership rejected the proposal even before its release as the plan is expected to be favourable to Israel, and Netanyahu has hailed it as a chance to “make history” and define Israel’s final borders.
Here are the latest updates:
Palestinian politicians and activists slammed the proposal, with many vying to “fight against the plan”.
Fakhry Abu Diab, a Palestinian activist in Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera: “It is obvious that Trump is trying to repeat history by a establishing new Balfour Declaration.
“[Trump] is giving away what he does not own, to people who have no right to it,” said Abu Diab.
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promised Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in phone call on Tuesday that he will visit the Gaza Strip and meet him.
“This deal is the final phase of the Balfour Declaration,” he said referring to the Balfour declaration, a statement issued by the British government supporting the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
“My vision presents a win-win solution for both sides,” Trump said, adding that Israeli leaders have said they will endorse the proposal.
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Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the proposal put forward by Trump, saying it will “not pass”.
“After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand nos to the Deal of The Century,” he said.
“We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means”.
Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser and craftsman of Trump’s Middle East plan, said the US president termed the proposal a “last chance” for Palestinians to have a state and to find peace and prosperity.
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, said convincing Israel to agree to a Palestinian state and to put a four-year freeze on the growth of Israeli settlements were Trump’s biggest achievements.
A cap on Israeli settlements provides the most realistic opportunity for the creation of a Palestinian state, the best chance “that they have ever had and may ever have”.
This is what a future State of Palestine can look like, with a capital in parts of East Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/39vw3pPrAL
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2020
“Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger,” Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesperson for the Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip.
“Trump’s statement about Jerusalem is nonsense and Jerusalem will always be a land for the Palestinians … The Palestinians will confront this deal and Jerusalem will remain a Palestinian land,” he added.
“This is a deal between the Zionist regime and America,” tweeted Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. “Interaction with Palestinians is not on its agenda. This is not a peace plan but a plan of imposition and sanctions.”
این معامله میان رژیم صهیونیستی و آمریکا است.
هیچ تعاملی با فلسطینیها در دستور کار نیست.
این طرح صلح و شکوفایی نیست بلکه طرح تحمیل و تحریم است.
آمریکا به صورت یکجانبه، بسیاری از مصوبات شورای امنیت سازمان ملل را نادیده میگیرد.
در انتظار انتفاضهای دیگر
— Hesameddin Ashena (@hesamodin1) January 28, 2020
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the plan could be a positive step after a phone call on Tuesday between Johnson and President Trump.
“The leaders discussed the United States’ proposal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which could prove a positive step forwards.”
The US president, speaking at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, unveiled his US-Israeli plan for the Middle East, saying it was a “win-win opportunity for both sides”.
“The peace plan for Israel and Palestine is a powerful path forward,” Trump said.
President Trump’s Middle East plan foresees East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital and that the US would eventually open an embassy there.
Jerusalem will be Israel’s undivided capital under the plan, Trump added.
Trump says US vision will end the cycle of Palestinian dependency on charity and foreign aid, urges peaceful coexistence without mentioning Israeli occupation and the decades-long blockade.
Israeli PM Netanyahu said he hoped Palestinian and other Arab neighbours would embrace Trump’s plan.
He added that Palestinians need to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
Netanyahu’s comments came on the same day as he was formally indicted in an Israeli court on corruption charges.
Netanyahu called the announcement a “historic day”, comparing it to May 14, 1948 when then-US President Harry Truman recognised the state of Israel.
Netanyahu thanked Trump for being the first president to “recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Judea Samaria, Jordan Valley and other strategic areas” and to recognise settlements as part of Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians took the path towards recognising Israel as a Jewish state, Israel was willing to negotiate “right away because the proposal is balanced”.
Trump’s plan has not been welcomed in the Gaza Strip where thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Tuesday, burning photos of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and raised banners reading “Palestine is not for sale”.
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The 12-page document will be rolled out at a sensitive time for both Israel and the US.
Netanyahu was in Washington for meetings with US President Donald Trump in advance of the release of the proposal when Israel’s attorney general filed the charges in a Jerusalem court on Tuesday.
Both leaders are also facing re-election. Israelis are due back in the polls on March 2 and Trump is gearing up for US presidential elections on November 3.
“We reject it and we demand the international community not be a partner to it because it contradicts the basics of international law and inalienable Palestinian rights,” Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh said.
Palestinians fear the plan will dash their hopes for an independent state in the occupied West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem, and the besieged Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders say they were not invited to Washington, DC, and no plan can work without them.
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The Arab League said it will convene a meeting on Saturday in response to Trump’s US-Israeli plan.
Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary, told reporters on Tuesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would attend to discuss the so-called “Deal of the Century”.
The meeting comes on the back of a Palestinian request to hold the meeting.