White House to release Middle East 'peace plan' on Tuesday: Trump

Palestinians have rejected the long-delayed plan, saying it is a bid to 'finish off' the Palestinian cause.

    US President Donald Trump greets Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
    US President Donald Trump greets Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    US President Donald Trump said on Monday that the White House would release his long-delayed Middle East "peace" plan at noon (17:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

    Trump made the remark to reporters as he greeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

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    Palestinians have rejected the forthcoming plan, dubbed the "deal of the century" by Trump, saying it was a bid "to finish off" the Palestinian cause.  

    They fear it will dash their hopes for an independent state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 

    On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry called for a "clear international declaration rejecting 'the deal of the century'", saying it would endanger regional stability. 

    Distraction for domestic woes?

    Trump will meet separately with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist opposition leader Benny Gantz in Washington, DC, over his proposals, which have been kept secret. Palestinian leaders say they were not invited to Washington, DC, and that no plan can work without them.

    The plan's release comes as both Trump and Netanyahu face troubles at home. 

    Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives last month and is on trial in the Senate on abuse of power charges. Netanyahu faces corruption charges and an national election on March 2, his third in less than a year. Both men deny wrongdoing.

    "This plan is to protect Trump against being impeached and to protect Netanyahu from going to jail, and it is not a peace plan," Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday at a cabinet meeting in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    "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," he added. "It is nothing but a plan to finish off the Palestinian cause."

    Trump on Monday said his administration is going to release the plan and see "whether or not it catches hold". 

    "If it does that would be great, and if it doesn't we can live with that, too," Trump told reporters. 

    Trump said Israel has a "very strange system" noting that he has been waiting for their third election in a year to conclude.

    Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Netanyahu said he looks "forward to making history".

    Honest broker?

    Trump's initiative, whose principal author is his son-in-law Jared Kushner, follows a long line of efforts to resolve one of the world's most intractable issues. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

    Palestinians have refused to engage the Trump administration and denounced its first stage - a $50bn economic revival plan announced last June.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said Washington can no longer be regarded as an honest mediator, accusing it of pro-Israel bias. 

    Since coming to office, the Trump administration has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

    The Trump administration in November reversed decades of US policy when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer regarded Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank land as inconsistent with international law.

    Palestinian and Arab sources who were briefed on the draft of Trump's plan fear it seeks to bribe Palestinians into accepting Israeli occupation, in what could be a prelude to Israel annexing about half of the West Bank including most of the Jordan Valley, the strategic and fertile easternmost strip of the territory, Reuters News Agency reported. 

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies