SHAFAQNA| By Leila Yazdani: Donald Trump unveiled details of his controversial 80-page plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians on Tuesday, though the proposal’s critics warned before its release it has little chance of success because of its pro-Israel slant. He declared that Bayt al-Muqaddas will be “Israel’s undivided capital” and that this was the “last opportunity” for the Palestinians to achieve statehood.
Speaking from the East Room at the White House alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Trump outlined the details of the plan he has touted as the “deal of the century” and which has been more than three years in the making.
Though Trump cast the plan Tuesday as potentially “the last opportunity they will ever have” at achieving Palestinian statehood, it would grant Israel sovereignty over the strategic Jordan Valley and other West Bank settlements.
After his speech, Trump tweeted out a conceptual map that he said illustrated “the territorial compromises [Israel] is willing to make for the cause of peace,” the first time such a step has been taken, politico told.
Trump described his plan as a “historic breakthrough” and said that he had written to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying that territory set aside for the Palestinian state would remain open for a “transition” period of four years.
In the lead up to elections in Israel scheduled for March 2, Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White, to visit the White House Jan. 28 for details and unveiling of the deal, Al-monitor told.
The plan released on Tuesday has repeatedly been delayed because of domestic issues both in the U.S. and Israel. Meanwhile, Trump and Netanyahu, who have long been close, are facing threats to their political careers with an impeachment trial ongoing in the Senate and Netanyahu facing criminal corruption charges at home.
Series of policies that have backed Israeli occupation
The announcement comes after months of waiting – during which the Trump administration implemented a series of policies that have backed Israeli occupation.
Over three years in office, the Trump administration has appointed a hardline pro-settlers lawyer as ambassador to Israel, cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), pulled the US from the UN Human Rights Council and declared that settlements are not necessarily illegal, Middleeasteye mentioned.
It also recognised Bayt al-Muqaddas as the capital of Israel, claiming that the contested holy city is now off the negotiations table.
Moreover, in September 2018, the US administration expelled the Palestinian diplomatic mission from Washington, making it difficult to involve Palestinians in the plan.
In fact, not a single Palestinian was present when Trump released the scheme on Tuesday.
Turn Palestinians’ political issue into an economic issue
Details about the initiative’s economic proposals, including $50 billion in infrastructure spending and investment over 10 years for the Palestinian territories and neighbors Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, have been previously announced. But the plan’s political aspects have been a closely guarded secret, according to Usatoday.
Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and socialist activist, told Middle East Eye that the Trump administration is looking to turn Palestinians’ political demands for rights into an economic issue.
“Trump’s main focus, under Israel’s influence, is to de-politicise the Palestine issue. It is not a matter of rights anymore – right of return or right of self-determination – but an economic and humanitarian issue that can be solved with money, if the exclusive right for self-determination for the Jews would be accepted by the Palestinians for every part of historical Palestine.”
Deal of the century denies Palestinians claims to Bayt al-Muqaddas
The so-called “deal of the century” codifies Washington’s recent pro-Israel policies, including denying Palestinians’ claims to Bayt al-Muqaddas.
The question of Bayt al-Muqaddas’s status has long been a major sticking point in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, with Israel insisting that the undivided city be recognized as its capital.
The U.S. had for years remained neutral on the issue, declining to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Bayt al-Muqaddas, a step past presidents declined to take in order to avoid inflaming tensions amid peace talks. But, Trump announced in late 2017 that his administration would move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Bayt al-Muqaddas.
Palestine’s Hamas decried the terms of the agreement saying: “This deal doesn’t worth the paper it’s written on and Bayt al-Muqaddas will remain for Palestinians”, AA reported.
Deputy chairman of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Tuesday reacted to U.S. President Donald Trump’s statements on Jerusalem as “undivided capital” of Israel.
“No, Trump! Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and the heart of the Islamic world!”
One side isn’t part of the negotiations
The peace plan has been spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, White House adviser Avi Berkowitz, former Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, the United States Ambassador to Israel. All four men have deep religious and educational ties to Israel – factors that have undermined their legitimacy as honest brokers in the eyes of many Palestinians.
The administration’s strategy, aims to solve the intractable problems between Israelis and Palestinians. But it essentially ignores all of the Palestinians’ desires, as the plan was drafted with no input from the Palestinian side, vox mentioned. It’s pretty hard to make a historic deal when one side isn’t part of the negotiations.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject Donald Trump’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, suggesting the proposal will favor Israel, Newsweek reported.
Protests in Gaza
Aljazeera quoted that thousands of Palestinians have rallied in the besieged Gaza Strip to protest against US President Donald Trump’s imminent announcement of a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Raising a banner that read “Palestine is not for sale”, demonstrators on Tuesday burned photos of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Leaders from Hamas, who govern Gaza, were invited to an emergency meeting held by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
“When we are united, neither Netanyahu nor Trump dares to take away our rights,” said senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya.
Detailed reports from a number of different media outlets, shows that Trump ‘deal of the century’ still no deal for Palestinians.