Report: Trump Peace Plan Will Not Include Settlement Evacuation

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference after their meeting in Israel on October 29, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference after their meeting in Israel on October 29, 2017.Credit: Mark Israel

The Donald Trump administration's plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace will be based on an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, not necessarily according to 1967 lines, Israel Television News (formerly Channel 2 News) reported on Saturday. The White House denied the report.

Based on Israeli sources, the report said that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to propose the Palestinians declare independence, after which the United States will recognize the Palestinian state. The Palestinians will also receive hundreds of millions of dollars from Sunni Arab countries as aid.

In addition, the United States is expected to adopt the principle of land swaps, but not necessarily according to the 1967 lines, said the report. The proposal will also meet most of Israel’s security demands. At this stage, no Jews or Arabs will be evacuated from their homes, and the issue of Jerusalem is not yet on the agenda. The question of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem will also be postponed.

"There is constant speculation and guessing about what we are working on and this report is more of the same," the White House said in a statement. "It is not an accurate representation, rather it is a mix of possibilities and ideas that have existed for decades."

“What we can say is we are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties and are taking a different approach than the past to create an enduring peace deal," responded the White House. "We are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything and we have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them."

An administration official, not referring directly to the report, added that such stories are "like a Minestrone soup of different ideas" and don't actually represent what the administration is preparing.

Earlier on Saturday, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, criticized the American threat to shut down the Palestinian mission in Washington, D.C. unless it enters serious peace negotiations with Israel as a "dangerous step." He said the warning shows the United States is losing its status as a fair mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

The threat, which was relayed to the Palestinians by the U.S. State Department, "is a puzzling position of the administration," Nabil Abu Rudeineh said. "The Palestinian side has not received any document or idea from the United States for many months, despite the fact that many meetings have taken place with the administration."

The move is "a dangerous threat," Abu Rudeineh said "that leads [to the conclusion that] the United States is losing its position as a negotiator" and that it was "withdrawing from its role as a sponsor of the diplomatic process for peace as promised by President Trump."

Abu Rudeineh said that warning issued by the U.S. administration was "unprecedented in the relationship between Washington and the Arab world," and that "it deals a blow to efforts to promote peace and a prize for Israel, which is trying to thwart American efforts by continuing to build in the settlements and opposing the two-state solution."

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