Palestinians reject 'Swindle of the Century'
Trump's Israel-Palestine "peace" plan (sic), unveiled at the White House Jan. 29 in a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, has been anointed by the media with the very Trumpian epithet "Deal of the Century"—although he appears not to have used that actual phrase. Trump boasted the plan, officially dubbed "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People," as a "win-win solution for both sides" and a "realistic two-state solution." With typical bluster, he said: "Today, Israel takes a big step towards peace. I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems." Netanyahu went on Fox & Friends the next day to hail the scheme as an "opportunity of a lifetime for Israel and the Palestinians and for peace."
Among the plan's key points:
Establish Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital, with a potential Palestinian capital on the outskirts to the east and north of the city.
Recognize the vast majority of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory as part of Israel—an open embrace of annexation. A Palestinian state would receive territory, mostly desert, near the Gaza Strip to compensate for the loss of about 30% of the West Bank. Gaza and the West Bank would be linked by high-speed rail. Ten border towns in Israeli territory along the Green Line are also named as possible compensation to a putative Palestinian state.
The Jordan Valley, a fertile breadbasket that makes up about a third of the West Bank, woud be recognized as part of Israel.
Offer a path to some form of Palestinian "statehood"—but with no army, and with overarching Israeli security control in some areas, including over the Gaza seacoast. The plan also sets a series of conditions the Palestinians would have to meet before receiving independence, including the "complete dismantling of Hamas," which governs Gaza. The Palestinians would also be obliged to drop their case against Israel at the Interational Criminal Court, and refrain from joining any international organizations without Israel's "consent."
Palestinian refugees displaced from homes within what is now Israel would be refused "right of return."
In a true Trumpian touch, the Palestinians will be allowed to "develop a resort area" on the north shore of the Dead Sea, "without prejudice to the State of Israel's sovereignty at such location."
In other words a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to the Palestinians to accept the status quo of bantustans, surrender much territory to actual Israeli annexation, give up their long-standing demand for justice for refugees—and call it "peace." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas predictably responded with "a thousand no's" to the plan.
It was also rejected by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. His office said in a statement: "The position of the United Nations on the two-State solution has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound... The United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis in resolving the conflict on the basis of United Nations resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements and realizing the vision of two States—Israel and Palestine—living side by side...within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines."
Clinging to the two-state solution at this late date may seem guileless, but certainly unilateral changes to the pre-1967 borders in Israel's overwhelming favor constitute a blatant land-grab, presumably designed to be rejected by the Palestinians. (The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Jurist, MEMO, CommonDreams)
And Palestinians immediately mobilized in outrage. Hundreds marched across an Israeli checkpoint in the northern West Bank to protest the plan the day after t was announced. Some 500 gathered in the Palestinian town of Tubas and crossed the Tayseer checkpoint between Nablus and the Jordan Valley, overwhelming Israeli troops who attempted to bar their way. Tayseer checkpoint had actually been unmanned over the past few years, but soldiers were again stationed there as Israel sent reinforcements to the West Bank in the lead-up to Trump's announcement. (+972)
Youth organizations also marched in Gaza, and issued a statement charging that Trump's plan "aims to liquidate the legitimate and just Palestinian national rights" and "serves to consolidate the law of the jungle and the policies of the fait accompli, contrary to peace agreements and legitimate international resolutions." (Maan News)