Trump Unveils Mideast Plan, Gratifying Netanyahu and Angering Palestinians

Netanyahu: We will apply Israeli law to areas recognized by U.S. ■ Abbas: 'Your conspiracy deal will not pass' ■ Plan calls for two states, four-year settlement freeze

Noa Landau
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Donald Trump and  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk in the midst of a joint news conference on a new in Washington, January 28, 2020.
Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk in the midst of a joint news conference on a new in Washington, January 28, 2020. Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Noa Landau

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled his “deal of the century,” a proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement that he called his “vision” for a two-state solution. According to Trump, the framework is a “win-win” for both Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said after the release of the plan: “Trump, Jerusalem is not for sale. Our rights are not for sale. Your conspiracy deal will not pass.” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters, “Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger.”

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 58Credit: Haaretz

In a rare display of unity, members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad attended Abbas’ speech in Ramallah rejecting Trump’s proposal, as hundreds of Palestinians rallied in the city, chanting slogans against Trump and Netanyahu. In Gaza City, Palestinians burned tires and chanted: “Trump is a fool.” Elsewhere in the West Bank, protests took place in Nablus, Yatta, Beit Ummar, Hebron, Qalqilyah and Bet El, where the Israeli army fired tear gas and rubber bullets, wounding several protesters. 

Palestinians burn tires during a demonstration against Donald Trump's expected peace plan proposal on January 28, 2020, at the entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Palestinians burn tires during a demonstration against Donald Trump's expected peace plan proposal on January 28, 2020, at the entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah.Credit: Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP

Following Trump’s presentation, Netanyahu said Israel had won American recognition for applying Israeli sovereignty to West Bank settlements, including in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area.

“The law of Itamar is the law of Tel Aviv,” Netanyahu told reporters in Washington, referring to the West Bank settlement.

>> Read more: What Israel and Palestine will look like according to Trump's plan ■ Trump's Mideast plan is a recipe for war, not peace | Opinion ■ Trump’s peace plan will fail – but its vision could still endure | Analysis 

Kahol Lavan, the party led by Benny Gantz that is challenging Netanyahu’s Likud for national leadership in the March 2 election, said in a tweet that Trump’s “important and historic speech” given by a “true friend to Israel and the Jewish people” conforms to Kahol Lavan’s policy and security values.

Key points of the plan:

  • A Palestinian state will be established while safeguarding Israel’s security.
  • A committee will draw up a detailed map which will serve as the basis for negotiations.
  • A four-year freeze on Israeli settlement construction.
  • Jerusalem will be Israel’s capital.
  • Palestinian capital will be in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the security barrier.

The plan was presented by Trump at a joint press conference at the White House alongside Netanyahu, who said Israel is willing to use it as the basis for immediate negotiations with the Palestinians.

The prime minister declared that Israel will apply Israeli law in West Bank settlements in territories recognized as Israeli by the U.S.

Palestinians watch the televised press conference by Trump and Netanyahu on January 28, 2020 in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians watch the televised press conference by Trump and Netanyahu on January 28, 2020 in the Gaza Strip.Credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP)

In his speech, Netanyahu said Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, and that Israel will maintain military control in the entire Jordan Valley, giving Israel a permanent eastern border with which to protect itself.

He also said Trump’s plan “makes clear that the Palestinian refugee problem must be solved outside the state of Israel.” It ensures, he continued, “that religious sites remain accessible to all faiths and maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount.”

Israel’s right wing expressed opposition to the plan’s call for a Palestinian state, even though it insists the state be demilitarized.

Defense Minister and Hayamin Hehadash leader Naftali Bennett said, “We will not allow for Israel, under any circumstances, to recognize a Palestinian state.” He added that in the coming days Israel must apply Israeli law to all settlement territories. This must not be postponed until after the election, and Israel must not be satisfied with partial sovereignty, Bennett said, adding, “Everything should be taken, and now.”

After meeting with senior U.S. officials on Tuesday, the head of the Yesha Council of settlements, David Elhayani, said: “We cannot agree to a plan that will include the formation of a Palestinian state which will pose a threat to the State of Israel and a great danger in the future.”

Two prominent rabbis, Haim Druckman and Dov Lior, also issued a statement calling for the rejection of any provisions for a Palestinian state.

According to Trump’s plan, a committee will be formed and be tasked with drawing up a detailed map to serve as a basis for an agreement. The president added that Jerusalem will not be divided and will serve as Israel’s capital. The Palestinian capital will be established in East Jerusalem neighborhoods that lie beyond the separation barrier, and will include an American embassy. According to Trump, the map would double the Palestinian territories of today, and “no Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.”

Trump said Israel has agreed to a four-year freeze on settlement construction, which he said is meant to allow the Palestinians to meet the challenges of forging a state, as well as to allow negotiations. According to Trump, his plan includes a mutual recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and of Palestine as the state of the Palestinian people. Israel would retain security control over the West Bank. According to Trump, the Palestinians could receive more control of security down the line.

At one point in the speech, Trump addressed his remarks to Abbas, urging him to take “the path of peace” and praising Israel for taking a “great step for peace.”

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