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Trump peace plan delights Israelis, enrages Palestinians

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on March 25, 2019. Credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump rolled out his administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on Tuesday, calling it a “realistic two-state solution” as it was praised by Israel’s prime minister but outright rejected by Palestinian leaders.

The proposal, three years in the making, calls for the recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for a four-year freeze on the development of new settlements in the region.

The plan also calls for a State of Palestine, which would double the state’s territorial size and include a capital in “areas of East Jerusalem.” Palestinians have objected to the proposed map, arguing that it would essentially isolate them from neighboring Arab states, including Jordan.

Trump, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a White House ceremony to unveil the plan, said the 80-page road map “provides a win-win opportunity for both sides.” He vowed that the provisions of the plan would chart a peaceful path for both sides.

"Our proposal provides precise technical solutions to make Israelis, Palestinians and the region safer and much more prosperous,” Trump said reading from prepared remarks. "As I have seen throughout my long career as a deal maker, complex problems require nuanced, fact-based remedies."

Netanyahu, one of Trump’s staunchest international allies, hailed the plan as “a great plan for peace.”

“Mr. President, because of this historic recognition, and because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed, I’ve agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan,” Netanyahu said to applause.

The plan, shepherded by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kusher, was crafted without Palestinian input, prompting Palestinian Authority officials to argue that the proposal was written to favor Israeli interests.

Palestinian leaders have refused to engage in talks with the Trump administration after the president proceeded with actions they deemed hostile, including recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017.

Trump, appearing to address claims of bias, told the audience of Israeli and U.S. Republican lawmakers on hand that because he has “done a lot for Israel … it is only reasonable that I have to do a lot for the Palestinians, or it just wouldn’t be fair.”

“The Palestinian people have grown distrustful after years of unfulfilled promises … yet I know they are ready to escape their tragic past and realize a great destiny, but we must break free of yesterday’s failed approaches,” Trump said.

Trump said the plan calls for $50 billion in new commercial investment in Palestine, which would help spur job development. He promised to “proudly” open a U.S. embassy in the new Palestinian capital.

The president made a direct appeal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, urging him to support the plan.

“President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries, we will be there, we will be there to help you in so many different ways and we will be there every step of the way, we will be there to help,” Trump said.

Abbas, speaking at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, responded with a resounding “thousand no’s.”

“After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no’s to the Deal of The Century,” Abbas told reporters.

Abbas said Palestinians were committed to ending the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and would resist Trump’s plan through “peaceful, popular means.”

“We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Abbas said.

The plan was unveiled as both Trump and Netanyahu fight for reelection while fighting off political charges of malfeasance in their respective countries. Trump’s impeachment defense team concluded its arguments in his Senate impeachment trial shortly after the White House event. Also Tuesday, Israel's attorney general filed a formal indictment in court charging Netanyahu with corruption. He has denied wrongdoing.

Both men spoke to a largely receptive crowd of U.S. and Israeli officials that included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), one of two Jewish Republican members of Congress, was also on hand. In a tweet, he praised the plan as “a critical pathway to peace that secures a stable, secure future for the Middle East by making a realistic, good faith effort to address the priorities of both Israel & Palestinians.”

— With The Associated Press

Key parts of Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

Places 4-year-hold on new Israeli West Bank Settlements

The plan would recognize Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank in exchange for a four-year freeze on the development of new settlements in the region. Palestinians have long opposed Israeli settlement in the region and have objected to the provision. The Trump administration contends the four-year freeze will provide Israelis and Palestinian with time to reach a more permanent agreement.

Supports the establishment of the State of Palestine

The plan would formally establish a State of Palestine, that would double the state’s territorial size and include a capital in “areas of East Jerusalem.” Palestinians have objected to the proposed map, arguing that it would surround the state by Israeli-controlled territory, cutting its border access to Jordan, an allied Arab state.

Proposes a $50 billion investment in Palestinian economy

The plan claims it will generate $50 billion in international investment to jump start the economy of the new Palestinian state.

Calls for a demilitarized Palestine

The plan calls on Palestinian leaders to agree to a demilitarized state as Israel would be given sole authority to secure territory west of the Jordan River. The plan contends Palestinians will “assume more security responsibility” over an undefined amount of time.

Source: White House

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