President Donald Trump announced what he called a detailed plan for Middle East peace that provides a “win-win” solution to make Israel and the region safer, skirting complaints that Palestinians have already rejected the proposal and didn’t take part in drafting the plan.
Trump said today his plan presents a “contiguous” territory for a Palestinian state once conditions are met, including “rejection of terrorism.” The proposal opens a “transition” to a two-state solution that leaves Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital,” Trump said to applause from an audience that included casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.
“Today Israel takes a big step towards peace,” Trump said at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides. There’s nothing tougher than this one, but we have to get it done.”
Trump added that his proposal calls on the Palestinian Authority to adopt “basic laws” on protecting human rights, fighting corruption, stopping malign activities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, ending financial compensation to terrorists and stopping incitement against Israel. He said territory destined for Palestinian control would go undeveloped for four years to give space for talks with Israel to progress.
But even before it fully emerged, the Trump administration’s proposal was criticized by Palestinians and many Mideast analysts for being biased in Israel’s favor and thus unlikely to end the century-old conflict. And the notion of an “undivided” Jerusalem will anger Palestinians, who have long sought to make east Jerusalem the capital of their future state.
The plan — drafted over the past three years by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — gives the Palestinians less than they have been offered in previous plans they’ve rejected, leaving its prospects for success slim.
Trump has long said his administration’s unorthodox approach to Mideast peace was justified because so many previous efforts had failed. His effort has been embraced by Netanyahu, who stood next to the president at the White House as it was released.
“I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems,” Trump said today.
But the Palestinians rejected it sight unseen after declaring early in Trump’s presidency that the U.S. was no longer an honest broker in peace talks.
Trump previously broke with international convention on the Mideast by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, recognizing Israel sovereignty over a portion of the Golan Heights and proclaiming that Israeli settlements in the West Bank aren’t necessarily illegal, measures all supported by Netanyahu. The administration has also cut off most U.S. aid to the Palestinians and closed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was due to convene Palestinian leaders to discuss the plan after its presentation, and to release a statement afterward. His administration has also called for an emergency session of the Arab League in Cairo on Saturday.
Trump directly addressed Abbas in his speech, saying he sent the Palestinian leader a letter and vowing that the U.S. proposal would foster economic prosperity for his people.
“President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and may other countries — we will be there,” Trump said. “We will be there to help you in so many different ways.”
The announcement comes as Netanyahu is facing political peril at home, confronting three separate corruption trials. That’s occurring as Israel heads to a third election in less than a year in early March, after two previous attempts failed to leave any leader in position to form a governing coalition.