Palestinian Authority Warns Israel, U.S. Against 'Crossing Red Lines' in Mideast Peace Plan

Palestinian officials say news of Netanyahu and Gantz's upcoming visit to Washington came while PA President Abbas was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bethlehem

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Thursday, Jan 23, 2020.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Thursday, Jan 23, 2020.Credit: Alexander Nemenov,AP
Jack Khoury

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not notified about the expected publication of U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan, Palestinian officials said on Thursday, adding that the news came to them during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Betlehem.

On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, are due to visit Washington next week to discuss "the possibility of peace in the holy land" with Trump.

"If the plan is released on the basis of the details that have come to light so far, which we reject vehemently, the Palestinian leadership will declare a series of steps by which we will preserve the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and Israel will bear responsibility as the occupying entity. We warn Israel and the U.S. administration against crossing red lines," the statement from the Palestinian Authority read.

"We emphasize our firm position calling to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories within the '67 borders, including East Jerusalem," it added.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli officials said that the plan would promise the application of Israeli sovereignty to all existing Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in addition to annexing the Jordan Valley, which would become Israel's eastern border.

The officials added that areas that are currently under Palestinian control are expected to remain as such, and will be defined as a demilitarized state, "However, an immediate refusal by the Palestinians [to accept the plan] would legitimize unilateral annexation steps

According to Channel 12 News' political correspondent and analyst Amit Segal, the White House will present Netanyahu and Gantz a plan that includes applying Israeli sovereignty to all West Bank Israeli settlements save 15, while creating a territorial continuity.

In addition, the plan will once again recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and will allow Israel to immediately annex West Bank communities, with Jerusalem agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state at a later time.

Segal added that the conditions to be presented to the Palestinians will include the demilitarization of Gaza, the disarmament of Hamas, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and Israel as a Jewish state.

According to Palestinian sources, President Abbas and his team learned about the developments on the peace plan during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Betlehem.

Officials, moreover, said they only heard of Netanyau and Gantz's slated visit to Washington through the media, while not receiving any communication or update from the Americans. "Such a dramatic event, which Palestnians are supposed to be directly affected by, and no one bothered to inform the Palestinian leadership," a Palestinian official told Haaretz, adding that the move denotes the American administration's blatant disregard for the Palestinian Authority.

Some officials said there were rumors over the last few days that the plan "would only serve the interests of Netanyahu and Trump, but nothing official. 

The PA has yet to make arrangements on how to react to the upcoming peace plan, and say their best bet could be waiting for elections in the United States and Israel to shake the political landscape. One senior member of the Palestinian leadership said: "We pray and trust God, but the problem is also Trump and Netanyahu pray the same good, and have far more tools and power." 

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