President Trump on Tuesday unveiled a Mideast peace plan that offers Palestinians the nationhood they have long sought if they agree to a number of bruising concessions, including full demilitarization.
“We say a thousands times, no, no, no to the deal of the century,” said Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. “We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct.”
The long-delayed peace deal sets in motion a four-year plan for a Palestinian state that offers to double its territorial footprint while improving unemployment, GDP, and poverty rates. If Palestinians accept the plan, they will receive $50 billion in infrastructure and investment over the next decade.
The plan hints at monetary compensation for Palestinian refugees who left their homes after Israel’s creation in 1948, but refuses their claims to land. The plan blocks any action against Israel in the International Criminal Court for the next four years and requires Palestinians to stop giving money to family members of individuals who were killed or jailed for acts against Israel.
The deal forbids incitement to terrorism, demands the disarmament of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and requires Hamas to yield control of Gaza, which will be demilitarized.
To achieve limited sovereignty, Palestinians will need to implement certain political reforms (including steps towards free speech), establish “transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions,” end all programs that “promote hate,” and achieve “civilian and law enforcement control over all of its territory.”
The plan recognizes Israeli control over major settlement blocs in the West Bank and allows Israel to immediately begin annexing existing settlements even if the deal is not approved by the PA or the UN.
“For years, the international community said that if Israel annexes any land in Judea or Samaria, there will be sanctions against us in the UN Security Council,” said Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu. “Now, America will prevent those sanctions.”
The plan grants Israel control of all security arrangements from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, including the permanent settlement of its eastern border, in exchange for a four-year freeze on expanding settlements in areas that will eventually be part of the Palestinian state.
The plan grants full control of Jerusalem to Israel.
Arab residents living in Jerusalem will have the choice to become citizens of either state or to remain permanent residents without choosing a side. The plan’s map shows a contiguous Palestinian state with a proposed tunnel connecting the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Land swaps south of Gaza would provide more territory for the future state.
No Israelis or Palestinians will be evacuated from their homes in any region, confirmed Netanyahu.
“There’s nothing tougher than this one,” said President Trump, referring to the years-long effort to broker a peace deal between Israel and the PA. “After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they ever have…My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides – a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security.”
While Palestinians are firmly rejecting the deal, some expect outside pressure will convince them to change their minds.
“Egypt calls on the two relevant parties to undertake a careful and thorough consideration of the US vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue, under US auspices,” wrote the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement.
“A reminder to the international community: Israel is an occupying power on the state of Palestine,” wrote Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat. “Any deal…that ignores this fact, will be recorded in history as the ‘Fraud of the Century.’”
Author’s Note: Many US presidents have offered a Mideast peace plan and none have succeeded. Trump’s plan is a big deal and actually has a chance of creating a two-state solution.
The timing of the deal is important regarding the upcoming US presidential election as it could sway the Jewish vote, which is important to the Republican Party.
Editor’s Note: This deal obviously favors Israel, but then again it is a negotiating document not a final deal. I’m willing to bet that Trump and Netanyahu have mapped out exactly what they are willing to give up and have a strategy for negotiating the final deal, that the Palestinians will grudgingly accept.
Trump’s specialty is negotiation. Watch him go.