Deal of the century? Trump unveils Middle East peace plan; Palestinians swiftly reject it
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mocked what Trump has called the "deal of the century," describing it as the "slap of the century".
US President Donald Trump has unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan that he claims is a “realistic two-state solution”, but it is apparently one-sided and caters to nearly every major Israeli demand. It was immediately rejected by Palestinians.
What is the peace plan?
The proposal lays the groundwork for Israel to immediately begin annexing all of its settlements in the West Bank with US support.
It also foresees the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty after a transition period. Palestinian negotiators have not had direct contact with the Trump administration in more than two years.
Under the proposal, Trump said Jerusalem "will remain Israel's undivided capital," but that a future Palestinian state would also have a "capital in eastern Jerusalem".
Trump did not address the question of Palestinian refugees and whether they will have a right of return to their former homes. And he said neither Palestinians nor Israelis would be uprooted from their homes under the plan.
The plan envisions a Palestinian capital in the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem on the eastern side of the separation barrier, physically separated from the rest of the city. Those neighborhoods include Kafr Aqab, Abu Dis and Shuafat.
The plan allows for the Palestinians to call their capital "al-Quds," using the Arabic term for Jerusalem, but includes no significant part of East Jerusalem and is well short of what the Palestinians would ever accept as their portion of the holy city.
Trump announced his plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace at a White House event with embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing at his side. It includes what Trump called a four-year freeze by Israel on new settlement activity.
Although Trump's stated aim was to end decades of conflict, the plan he advanced favoured Israel, underscored by the absence of Palestinians from Trump's announcement. It seemed unlikely to immediately advance Israeli-Palestinian talks that broke down in 2014.
Palestine condemned Trump for agreeing to let Israel maintain control of long-contested West Bank settlements. The country's President Mahmoud Abbas mocked what Trump has called the "deal of the century," describing it as the "slap of the century".
Palestinians have refused to deal with the Trump administration in protest at pro-Israel policies such as moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the eastern part of which is sought by the Palestinians.
Trump set in motion a four-year timeline for Palestinians to agree to a security arrangement with Israel, halt attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas and set up governing institutions in order to establish a Palestinian state with its capital in Abu Dis, a part of east Jerusalem.
That too poses a potential problem for Palestinians.
Abu Dis is a West Bank village just east of the Israeli municipal boundaries for Jerusalem. Palestinians living in Abu Dis are cut off by a high concrete Israeli security wall and checkpoints.
Palestinians reject any proposal that does not envision a Palestinian capital in all of East Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City.
“Jerusalem is not for sale”
Abbas, speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said: "Jerusalem is not for sale, our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain and your deal, the conspiracy will not pass.”
Critics say both Trump and Netanyahu have been intent on diverting attention away from domestic troubles. Trump is going through an impeachment trial, while Netanyahu was formally indicted in court on corruption charges on Tuesday.
Netanyahu said the Trump plan offered Palestinians a pathway to a future state but that it may take them "a very long time to get to the beginning of that path."
How the world leaders reacted?
Iranian officials dismissed the so-called "peace proposal" as "a plan of imposition and sanctions".
Hesameddin Ashena, an adviser to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, said on Twitter: "This is a deal between the Zionist regime (Israel) and America. Interaction with Palestinians is not on its agenda. This is not a peace plan but a plan of imposition and sanctions."
Jordan warned against "annexation of Palestinian lands" with the kingdom's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warning against the "dangerous consequences ".
Egypt urged Israelis and Palestinians to "carefully study" the proposal.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman reassured the Kingdom's commitment to the Palestinian issue and Palestinian rights, in a phone call with the Palestinian President, the Saudi state news agency reported on Wednesday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesperson said the plan could be a positive step.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres according to his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the UN supports two states living in peace and security within recognised borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.