Trump will launch the long-awaited Middle East peace package seen as generous with Israel


The White House plans a midday announcement of a package of proposals for almost three years of preparation. It was once a priority for Trump, the effort was hampered from the beginning by a Palestinian boycott and then repeatedly delayed by a political crisis that shook Israel.

The US package of ideas is expected to propose a reallocation of the West Bank and Jerusalem while offering Palestinians a path to statehood if they meet a set of evidence.

Trump described his proposals for peace in the Middle East in private meetings on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the veteran challenger of the Israeli leader in the upcoming elections, Benny Gantz.

No Palestinian attended the White House preview of what is described as a very detailed proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which dates from the founding of Israel in 1948.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, convened a special meeting on Tuesday of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was expected to request a broad condemnation of the proposals of the Arab governments that have traditionally supported the Palestinian cause.

US officials hope that Arab leaders who are tired of the endless conflict will see the plan as perhaps the last and best chance to solve it before Israeli settlements, other construction and security measures in the occupied territory become a Palestinian entity autonomous.

After retaining the secret package during two rounds of inconclusive elections in Israel, the Trump administration decided to publish it before a third vote in March and let the chips fall where they can, several people familiar with the process said.

Hours before the release in Washington, Netanyahu’s accusation of corruption charges was filed in a Jerusalem court. The release also occurs amid the ongoing Trump Senate trial on impeachment charges.

The package is expected to propose a new border between Israel and the West Bank that formalizes Israeli control over large Jewish settlements. I would give the blessing of the USA. UU. Some forms of Israeli security control over the territory that Israel took in 1967 and has occupied since then, according to two people familiar with the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity before the plan was released.

The 50-page plan developed by Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is expected to include proposals that address each of the major problems that have sunk peace efforts in the past, including claims of competing land and administration of sacred places in Jerusalem.

Trump predicted on Monday that “we will finally have the support of the Palestinians,” but he also seemed to confirm expectations that the White House’s proposals are generous to close allies to Israel.

“That is a plan that Bibi, perhaps, and his opponent, I must say, have to like very much,” Trump said, calling Netanyahu by his nickname.

Gantz met with Trump separately in the White House as part of the administration’s strategy to publish US guidelines for an agreement before Israelis vote in March. Netanyahu and Gantz are in a stalemate after two inconclusive elections in the last year. Both have said they welcome Trump’s plan.

The package is expected to offer limited autonomy to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that would increase within approximately three years if the Palestinian leadership took new political measures, renounced violence and took other measures in negotiations with Israel, they said. Two known people. with the plan

Some in Israel, along with US critics of Trump’s approach, think the plan could give the green light to the Israeli annexation of land that the Palestinians claim for a future state. Trump eluded questions about annexation on Monday, but the possibility hangs over the release of the plan. It is thought that if the Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel towards a conditional state, Israel would have free hands to annex land.

The advance plan has served to gather disparate hostile factions. Hamas, the militant group that governs the Gaza Strip, agreed to sit down Tuesday to draw up a joint response with its arch-rival, Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority whose Fatah party controls the West Bank.

“The unitary scene is the first nail in the coffin of this agreement; when we are united, Trump and no one else will dare to violate our rights, “said Khalil al-Hayya, deputy director of Hamas, at a rally Monday night in Gaza City.” We tell everyone that we are united against him. agreement of the century and that we abandon all conspiracies. We are a people under a flag. “

With Palestinian militants asking residents of the West Bank and neighboring Jordan to go out on the streets for “days of rage,” the Israel Defense Forces sent a brigade of infantry troops to the Jordan Valley. There were reports of minor clashes on Tuesday between soldiers and protesters.

The United States cannot make the proposals, but American ideas about what an agreement should include have guided the most recent failed efforts in a negotiated agreement.

The leaked details of the plan have already caused political eruptions, even among Israelis. After traveling to Washington with Netanyahu to present his case, the leaders of the Israel settlement movement reacted with dismay.

The leaders of several groups of settlers, who have been calling for a rapid annexation of the West Bank, instead stated that they could not support any plan that would lead to Palestinian sovereignty over up to 70 percent of the disputed territories.

“I am surprised that my prime minister has accepted the creation of a Palestinian state,” David Elhayani, head of the Yesha Council, a group of settlement leaders, told the Jerusalem Post after the meeting with Netanyahu. “This is an existential threat to the State of Israel. Spell the destruction of settlements in Judea and Samaria. We have agreed in the Agreement of the Century the creation of a Palestinian state. “

Others in Israel are worried about a Palestinian uprising following the release of the plan. A violent reaction is one of the factors that Washington has weighed in deciding when and how to move forward after the Palestinians rejected the entire reach of the US. UU. Only a few months after the effort began during the first year in Trump’s office.

The Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood political arm in Jordan and several activist groups called for a “mass protest” at the US Embassy in Amman on Tuesday at noon, Eastern time, to “coincide with the speech of Trump on the Agreement of the Century. ” “Promising that the agreement” will not happen. “

Additional Jordanian riot police were deployed at the embassy starting Tuesday afternoon.

Islamists and independents also called for more protests at the heavily guarded embassy this week after Friday’s prayers.

A second group of youth activists known as the “harak” directed their anger towards the Jordanian government because of their close ties to Washington. They called for protests at the prime minister’s office Thursday night to “reject the agreement of the century” and repudiate the Jordanian government’s policy that, they said, weakens people’s ability to face the plan.

The Jordan Senate, a body of influential former ministers, prime ministers, ambassadors and royal court officials appointed by the king, announced that it would hold a closed emergency session on Wednesday to discuss the ramifications of Trump’s peace plan.

Michael Milshtein, head of the Palestinian Studies Forum at the Moshe Dayan Center of Tel Aviv University, cited a disparity between what Palestinian leaders say and the mood of the Palestinian people.

“If you look at the speech in the streets, people really aren’t talking about this plan at all,” he said. “What happens now is really a great test for Abbas because it will show how much support he has among his people, but I don’t think there is energy among the Palestinian public to go out in mass protest.”

“I think Abbas is trying to see how much he can mobilize his supporters and take the young Fatah guard to the streets to protest against this plan, but he doesn’t want to create a complete third intifada.” He just wants to send warning signs, ”said Milshtein. “But sometimes these messages can be misunderstood, and all that is needed is one or two violent incidents for an escalation.”

Milshtein, a retired officer from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, the Israeli military body responsible for civil coordination with the Palestinians, said that at this point, security coordination at all levels between Israelis and Palestinians seem to continue. as usual.

While some in the settlement movement pledged not to support the plan’s conditional path to a Palestinian state, other uncompromising Israelis said they could support the idea if it entails, as reported, difficult preconditions along the way.

Those requirements are said to include working to disarm Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, to stop regular rocket attacks from Gaza, as well as end financial support for the arrested Palestinians after attacking the Israelis. and recognize Israel as a legal Jewish state.

Eugene Kontorovich, a legal expert at the Koholet Policy Forum, a group of far-right experts in Jerusalem, said that, unlike previous peace plans, Trump would rescind the statehood offer if the Palestinians do not take the measures.

“If these conditions are really unrealistic, is there really something to talk about?” Kontorovich asked. “This is a plan that could show that a peaceful Palestinian state is nothing that anyone should take seriously.”

Otherwise, “they could have a state at this time,” he said. “Look, they have an American right-wing administration that speaks of a Palestinian state.”

Hendrix and Eglash reported from Jerusalem. Hazem Balousha in Gaza City, Sufian Taha in Jerusalem and Taylor Luck in Amman contributed to this story.


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