Palestinians skeptical of Trump’s Middle East peace plan

Trump and Netanyahu talk in the midst of a joint news conference on a new Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2020. (Reuters)

Palestinians are skeptical of the Trump administration’s long-anticipated Middle East peace plan, calling it the ‘steal of the century,’ after President Trump unveiled the complete proposal Tuesday.

The plan, dubbed the ‘Deal of the Century’ by Trump, aims to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan includes a two-state solution - creating a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel - and a four-year freeze of Israeli development in area eyed for the future Palestinian state.

Palestinian political analyst Zaha Hassan said the plan is “essentially a call for Palestinians to surrender their legal rights and their history and claims to the land.”

“The purpose of the ‘deal of the century’ is to ensure that Israel may annex the maximum amount of land with the minimal amount of Palestinians and get US support in legitimizing what will amount to what many refer to as the ‘steal of the century,’” said Hassan in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Palestinian leadership have outright rejected the plan, accusing Trump of pro-Israel bias, and a series of protests are planned in both the West Bank and Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Trump administration’s plan is likely already underway, according to Palestinian expert Dr. Yara Hawari.

“In many ways, I predict that a lot of things in the plan are already underway. So in that sense, it has succeeded, but how much can a plan succeed if it doesn't have the Palestinian leadership on board?” Hawari, a senior policy fellow at Al Shabaka- the Palestinian Policy Network, said in an interview with Al Arabiya English.

Calling the 80-page plan a “historic opportunity” for the Palestinians to achieve an independent state, Trump said Palestinians “deserve a far better life.”

“Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism,” Trump said in a speech from Washington.

The announcement of the plan comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House on what he said was a “historic mission to design the permanent borders of Israel and ensure our security for decades to come.”

“Israel has now agreed to terms for a future Palestinian State,” the White House said in a statement.

Under Trump’s plan, the Palestinian state would be double the size of land that Palestinians currently control and would be connected by roads, bridges and tunnels, according to US officials.

Hassan said Trump and Netanyahu may claim the plan calls for a Palestinian state, but that their definition of “state” is faulty.

“Statehood requires sovereignty which requires control over the land and the airspace. That is explicitly not what is being proposed. Palestinians will have limited autonomy within isolated islands of land inside the West Bank,” said Hassan.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is said to be the main architect of the plan.

Kushner publicized the economic aspect of the proposal, a $50 billion economic plan for Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, to the world at a two-day conference in Bahrain in June.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English at the time, Kushner called his economic plan for the Palestinian people “very ambitious.”

“We think we can double the GDP for the Palestinian people, improve their standard of life, create over a million new jobs, reduce the unemployment rate to below 10 percent, and reduce the poverty rate by about 50 percent,” Kushner told Al Arabiya’s Nadine Khammash in an exclusive interview.

Hassan said the plan promises Palestinians development aid and “projects to make life more livable while Israel continues its military control over their lives.”

“A real peace plan would have to call for ending the military occupation that began in 1967 and the siege over Gaza, providing Palestinian refugees with options to end their refugeehood including a meaningful choice of return to Israel along with reparations, and a shared capital of Jerusalem,” said Hassan.

Under the plan, Jerusalem “will stay united and remain the capital of Israel, while the capital of the State of Palestine will be Al-Quds and include areas of East Jerusalem,” according to the White House.

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Last Update: 05:21 KSA 08:21 - GMT 05:21
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