Donald Trump unveils Middle East peace plan with Benjamin Netanyahu
US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of east Jerusalem.
The plan unveiled this morning more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also recognises Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object.
It would include a “two-state solution” with a tunnel linking the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.
“This a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state,” Mr Trump said, warning “this could be the last opportunity they will ever have.”
Mr Trump said it was a “vision for peace, prosperity and a new future” for both Israel and Palestine.
He claimed Israel had a taken “a giant leap” by signing up to a two-state solution and claimed it was a “win-win” for both sides.
The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Mr Trump of being biased in favour of Israel as he has adopted policies that bolster Israel at their expense.
Mahmud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, was thousands of kilometres away, having cut off diplomatic contact with the US more than two years earlier.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political challenger in March elections, Benny Gantz, have signed off on the plan.
Mr Netanyahu stood beside Mr Trump as he unveiled the plan at the White House.
Mr Netanyahu withdrew that request hours before the proceedings were to begin, but Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, is still expected to meet.
The body had been likely to vote against immunity, dealing Mr Netanyahu a blow.
In the run-up to the March 2 election, Mr Netanyahu has called for annexing parts of the West Bank and imposing Israeli sovereignty on all its settlements there.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, and the Jordan Valley in particular is considered a vital security asset.
Security responsibility for the Jordan Valley would remain in Israel’s hands for the foreseeable future but could be scaled back as the nascent Palestinian state builds its capacity, under the terms of the plan, which says that statehood will be contingent on the Palestinians meeting international governance criteria.
The officials said they expected negative responses from the Palestinians, as well as Turkey and Iran, but were hopeful that Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab nations to have peace treaties with Israel, would not reject it outright.
The officials said they expected Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others to cautiously welcome the plan.
The reaction of Jordan, which would retain its responsibilities over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque under the plan, will be particularly significant, according to the officials, who said Kushner and others were reaching out to Arab leaders ahead of the rollout.
The Palestinians see the West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state and east Jerusalem as their capital.
Most of the international community supports their position, but Mr Trump has reversed decades of US foreign policy by siding more blatantly with Israel.
The centrepiece of his strategy was recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the American Embassy there.
He’s also closed Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and cut funding to Palestinian aid programs.
But the Palestinians refuse to even speak to Trump and they are calling on support from Arab leaders.
The Palestinian leadership also has encouraged protests in the West Bank, raising fears that the announcement in Washington could spark a new round of violence.
Originally published as Trump unveils Middle East peace plan