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TRUMP’S PLAN FOR JERUSALEM: A TRAP OR A REAL SOLUTION?

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At the last week of January 2020, US President Trump announced a plan for bringing permanent peace to the Israel-Palestenian conflict that continues for decades. That plan has been declared, as the deal of the century but many critics claim that it is a one sided plan mainly for the benefit of Israel and Palestinians have nothing to agree within. We have tried to gather information from the respectable sources to deeply analyze that plan.

 

Jan. 29, 2020;

President Trump stood alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday to reveal a long-awaited plan intended to resolve generations of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Noticeably absent from that announcement, though, was any Palestinian representation, and Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the plan. The proposed settlement strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than having both sides make significant concessions.

Mr. Trump vowed at the start of his presidency that he would negotiate a “bigger and better deal” to broker peace than anyone could imagine. Three years later, experts say that the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, falls remarkably short of that goal and is unlikely ever to become the basis for a peace agreement.

Here are some of the plan’s main features.

What does the plan say?

While Mr. Trump’s proposal is the latest in a series of United States-brokered attempts to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians, his framework was a sharp departure from decades of American policy. The United States has long voiced support for the creation of a Palestinian state with only slight adjustments to the Israeli boundaries that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel wrested the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt.

Instead, the 181-page Trump plan proposes a West Bank riddled with interconnected chunks of Israeli territory containing Jewish settlements, many of them largely encircled by Palestinian lands. For the Palestinians, it would mean giving up a claim to large amounts of West Bank land — including places where Israel has built settlements over the past half-century and strategic areas along the Jordanian border. Most of the world regards the settlements as illegal.

 The framework also sets aside the longtime goal of a fully autonomous Palestinian state. Instead, Mr. Trump vaguely promised that Palestinians could “achieve an independent state of their very own” but gave few details, while Mr. Netanyahu said the deal provided a “pathway to a Palestinian state” with significant caveats.

The Palestinians do not subscribe to the plan, though the deal provides for a four-year window for them to engage in renewed settlement talks. During that time, Israel would refrain from constructing settlements in those parts of the West Bank that the plan has designated for Palestinians.

Previous American proposals spoke of uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from the settlements to return those areas to the Palestinians for inclusion in their state, but the Trump plan promises to leave both settlers and Palestinians in their current homes. Rather, it maps out a series of linked settlements and other areas that would officially become Israeli territory in the midst of the West Bank.

The plan also envisaged a Palestinian capital in “eastern Jerusalem,” on the outer edges of the city beyond Israel’s security barrier, while guaranteeing Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. The city is a holy site for the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has long been a sticking point in peace negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu later clarified that the proposed Palestinian capital would be in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village on the outskirts of the holy city.

The plan proposes transportation links between the unconnected Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But the element of the plan that may prove to be its only lasting effect is American recognition of Israel’s claim over the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

 How would this redraw the map of Israel?

The proposal gives American approval to Israel’s plan to redefine the country’s borders and formally annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley that it has long sought to control.

That would leave the West Bank portion of any potential Palestinian state surrounded on all sides by Israel. Israeli forces seized the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 war, and Israeli settlements have steadily encroached on the region over the decades since, a move largely condemned internationally.

Mr. Netanyahu caused controversy in September when he vowed, while running for re-election, to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategically critical chunk of the occupied West Bank nestled against the border with Jordan. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he saw President Trump’s plan as giving legitimacy to claiming Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley as Israeli territory.

“For too long, the very heart of the land of Israel where our patriots prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as ‘illegally occupied territory,’” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Well today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.”

Mr. Netanyahu said that his cabinet could move within days to assert sovereignty over those areas, but the decision could be subject to legal challenges because the current government is an interim administration.

 What has the Palestinian reaction been?

Despite Mr. Trump’s assertion that the deal was “a win-win opportunity” for both sides, Palestinians have largely rejected it.

Mahmoud Abbas, the 84-year-old leader of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the plan in a speech on Tuesday evening, calling it a “conspiracy” not worthy of serious consideration.

“We say a thousand times over: no, no, no,” Mr. Abbas said, speaking from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership cut off communication with the Trump administration in 2017 after Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moved the American Embassy to the city. On the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, protests against the plan broke out on Tuesday.

The reaction from other Arab governments has been mixed. None of the United States’ Arab allies have formally endorsed the plan or committed to ushering it into reality, though ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement.

 Was the focus peace or politics?

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, said in a call with reporters after the plan was announced that the big reveal was timed in a “nonpolitical way.”

He said that the plan was “fully baked” before an Israeli election last April but that American officials had held off introducing it then. When that election produced no government, the United States again postponed any announcement until after a second election in September, he said.

Now, as Israel approaches a third election in less than a year, which could also fail to produce a government, Mr. Friedman said that the time had been right to introduce the proposal. He noted that American officials had also discussed the plans with Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party and Mr. Netanyahu’s main rival in the March 2 election.

But experts say that the timing of the rollout has more to do with the domestic politics of the United States and Israel than with resolving the conflict, with Mr. Trump facing an impeachment trial and Mr. Netanyahu facing trial on corruption charges.

 William F. Wechsler, director of Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research organization, said in an emailed statement that the plan was unlikely to have a major impact in the short term.

“The announcement’s chosen timing, specific staging, limited participants, and indeed its substance make clear that it has less to do with a good-faith effort to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Wechsler said, “and more to do with the immediate legal and electoral challenges that confront both leaders.”

You can find the original text at:

 

Nir Hasson from haaretz.com interprets the sitaution as follows;

A bulldozer in a china shop. That’s how the section of U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan on Jerusalem feels. The authors of the plan talk about the need to treat the issue of Jerusalem’s holy sites with “utmost sensitivity,” but they are brutally trampling over the sensitive, complex and dangerous problems. It shows a minimal understanding of the city, does not delve into details and is rife with major contradictions.

For example, the plan declares the status quo in the holy sites will be maintained: “In particular the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted.” But in the next paragraph it says: “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

But the most important section of the unwritten status quo on the Temple Mount is that Jews and other non-Muslims have no right to pray there. This status quo was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, in his own voice, in 2015. So what is the significance of the status quo if everyone has the right to pray on the Temple Mount?

The authors of the American plan totally accept the view that Israel has the right to continue to keep all the holy sites. This right, according to the authors of the peace plan, who base themselves on Netanyahu here, stems not only from Israel’s ties to these holy sites but also because it is the only ruler that safeguarded the freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem. As a result, the plan concludes that Israel should continue to maintain the Holy Basin area.

The plan even includes a list of the 35 holy sites in the city, including the City of David, the Pool of Siloam and numerous churches. For the Palestinians: “Licenses shall be provided to Palestinian tour guides to operate tours in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as at sites sacred to Christianity and Islam in other areas of Jerusalem.” In return, they are supposed to give up what is considered to be a religious symbol and the most important center of their nationalism.

According to the Trump peace plan, almost all of Jerusalem will remain in Israeli hands, except for two small corners: The Shoafat refugee camp and Kafr Akeb in the north of the city. These two neighborhoods, which are within Jerusalem’s municipal borders, were cut off from the capital about 15 years ago when the separation barrier was constructed. As a result of this isolation, Israeli authorities almost completely withdrew from these neighborhoods and anarchy reigned.

As a result, huge apartment buildings were constructed there illegally, and today some 120,000 to 140,000 people live there, most of whom have Israeli residency. In other words, one out of every three Palestinians in Jerusalem lives in these two neighborhoods, which will be left outside of the city according to the plan.

The plan proposes that the Palestinians make these two ill-fated neighborhoods – along with Abu Dis in eastern Jerusalem – their capital. The plan is even surprisingly generous to the Palestinians in the way it allows them to call this capital city al-Quds, “or another name selected by the State of Palestine.” To emphasize their generosity, this phrase is even repeated three times in the document.

Residents of these neighborhoods beyond the fence were shocked by this part of the plan. For a long time, they have feared Israel was plotting to cut them off from their city. Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin even promoted such a plan. On Tuesday, residents of the Shoafat refugee camp and Kafr Akeb could be heard panicking and many were asking if they needed to start looking for apartments inside Jerusalem, or somewhere else in Israel, so as not to lose their rights.

These are Palestinians from Jerusalem, who moved to these neighborhoods because of a housing shortage in East Jerusalem. Their work, schools, health clinics, mosques and relatives are in Jerusalem. If a border is established between them and all this, it will be disastrous for them – and for us.

To calm friends of mine from there, I sent them a copy of the Basic Law on Jerusalem. The law was advanced enthusiastically by the right and it is now the strongest legal barrier to implementing the plan in Jerusalem. The Basic Law on Jerusalem is the most entrenched law in Israel’s law books. If the Israeli government does want to transfer the neighborhoods beyond the fence to the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian state, it will need to approve it with a super-majority of at least 80 Knesset members, and also through a referendum. It seems that for now, the Palestinians in the refugee camp can stay calm. Jerusalem city council member Arieh King has already attacked the plan for dividing Jerusalem.

What will happen to the 200,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, inside the fence? The plan proposes that they choose between remaining residents of Israel, or becoming citizens of the Palestinian state. No, there is no explanation as to how it will work or who will provide them with services. Which police will serve them? For which parliament will they vote and what authority will that parliament will have over their lives? Or they can become Israeli citizens. As of today, Israel says they have the possibility of becoming citizens, but this is an empty declaration, because the process of receiving citizenship is so difficult and long that it is irrelevant for the great majority of the residents of East Jerusalem.

Nowhere is the plan’s disconnect from reality more apparent than in the section addressing a “special tourist area.” This section states that Israel will allow Palestinians to develop a special tourism zone in Atarot in the far north of Jerusalem, but is located on the Israeli side of the separation barrier – and the future border, according to Trump’s peace plan. It is completely clear that whoever wrote this section has never visited Atarot. The neighborhood is made up of an ugly and neglected industrial zone, the Qalandiya checkpoint, a waste separation facility, a huge concrete wall and an abandoned airport. Why would someone want to visit there?

We can continue analyzing the absurdities of the plan, the lacunae and contradictions – but it would be a waste of time. This proposed peace plan needs to be examined according to only one single measure: Today, two babies were born in the Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Will this peace plan guarantee them that in another 20 years the two young people will have equal rights? Will both of them have a country? Will both of them be able to influence their own lives by voting? Will they have the right of equal access to resources, space, self-determination, freedom of movement, freedom of worship and dignity?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then this is not a peace plan and it is not a solution – it is part of the problem.

For the original text go to: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-trump-s-deal-offers-east-jerusalem-palestinians-a-grim-vision-of-the-future-1.8469393

BBC sees the situation as follows;

Israel’s prime minister called the plan the “opportunity of the century” and said he was willing to endorse it as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians.

But the Palestinian president dismissed the plan as the “slap of the century”.

So what is Mr Trump proposing on core issues that divide the two sides?

Palestinian statehood

The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which were occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. Israeli prime ministers have previously accepted the notion of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan offered “a viable path to Palestinian statehood”. It “designates land reasonably comparable in size to the West Bank and Gaza for the establishment of the State of Palestine” and would “more than double the size of the land currently used by the Palestinians”.

Israel has agreed to a four-year “land freeze” to secure the possibility of a two-state solution, according to the White House. Mr Trump said that during this time, when the land allocated under his plan for a new Palestinian state would “remain open and undeveloped”, the Palestinians would be able to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.

Mr Trump said the criteria included “adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists”.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the US plan “recognises Israel’s illegal colonisation and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine”, while Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned that Palestinians would be “relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.

Jerusalem

Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the ancient city. Israel – which occupied the formerly Jordanian-held eastern part in 1967, and effectively annexed it in 1980 in a move not recognised internationally – regards the whole of Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian leaders want East Jerusalem – which includes the Old City and major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites, and is home to about 350,000 Palestinians and 200,000 Jewish settlers – to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Mr Trump’s plan says: “Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city.”

It adds: “The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north” of Israel’s West Bank barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat, and Abu Dis.

Map of Jerusalem
Presentational white space

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who broke off contacts with the Trump administration in 2017 when it recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisted that a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem was impossible. “Jerusalem is not for sale,” he said.

Mr Trump’s plan also says Israel will “continue to safeguard Jerusalem’s holy sites and will guarantee freedom of worship” for people of all faiths.

The plan proposes that the “status quo” at the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved.

Borders

The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.

Israel says those lines are militarily indefensible and were never intended to be permanent. Its leaders have not previously said where the borders should be, other than making clear that the eastern border should be along the River Jordan.

The White House said it “reached an understanding with Israel regarding a map setting forth borders for a two-state solution”. A joint committee will be formed to “convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved”, according to Mr Trump.

The president’s map showed 15 Israeli “enclave communities” – currently Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank – that would be located inside the future Palestinian state and be connected to the rest of Israel by access roads.

Map showing Donald Trump's plan for a State of Palestine
white space

In exchange for letting the settlements remain, the Palestinians would be given territory in what is now Israel that adjoins the West Bank, as well as two large enclaves in the Negev desert, near the border with Egypt, connected by road to Gaza. Gaza itself would be linked to the West Bank by a tunnel.

Settlements

Since 1967, Israel has built about 140 Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as 121 outposts – settlements not authorised by the government. They have become home to some 600,000 people.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Palestinians say all settlements must be removed for a Palestinian state to be viable. Mr Netanyahu has vowed not only to never uproot any settlements but to bring them under Israeli sovereignty.

The White House said that “neither Palestinians nor Israelis will be uprooted from their homes”. Mr Trump said the US would “recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel”.

Under Mr Trump’s plan, Israel will “incorporate the vast majority of Israeli settlements into contiguous Israeli territory” and “Israeli enclaves located inside contiguous Palestinian territory will become part of the State of Israel and be connected to it through an effective transportation system”.

Mr Netanyahu told reporters that the Israeli cabinet would vote on Sunday on whether to start the process of applying Israeli sovereignty to the settlements, and to parts of the Jordan Valley allocated to Israel under Mr Trump’s plan.

Map of the West Bank settlements
Presentational white space

Jordan Valley

The Jordan Valley is a fertile strip of land running along the border with Jordan that makes up almost 30% of the West Bank. It is sparsely populated – home to around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Jewish settlers. Palestinians say the valley would form an integral part of the land that they want for a future state.

Israeli leaders see the Jordan Valley as a vital security buffer with the Arab world and have held that Israel would maintain some kind of military control there under any peace deal with the Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu has promised to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.

Mr Trump’s plan states: “The Jordan Valley, which is critical for Israel’s national security, will be under Israeli sovereignty.”

Refugees

The United Nations says it supports 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. Most are the descendants of people who fled or were expelled during the Arab-Israeli war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.

Palestinians insist on their right to return to their former homes, but Israel says they are not entitled to, arguing that such a move would overwhelm it demographically and lead to its end as a Jewish state.

The White House said that under Mr Trump’s plan, “Palestinian refugees will be given a choice to live within the future State of Palestine, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country”.

The US will work with the international community to establish “a generous trust to aid in the process of resettling refugees”, it added.

Recognition

Israel insists any peace deal must include Palestinian recognition of it as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”. Without this, it argues, Palestinians will continue to press their own claims to the land, causing the conflict to endure.

The Palestinians say that what Israel calls itself is its own business, but that to recognise it as the Jewish state would discriminate against Israel’s Arab population of Palestinian origin, who are Muslims, Christians and Druze.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan aimed to “achieve mutual recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the future State of Palestine as the nation-state of the Palestinian people”.

Security

Mr Netanyahu has said any Palestinian state should be demilitarised with the powers to govern itself but not to threaten Israel.

Mr Abbas has expressed support for a demilitarised Palestinian state and proposed that an international force patrol it indefinitely, with troops positioned at all border crossings, and within Jerusalem.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan provided for “a demilitarised Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan river”. The Palestinians would work with the US and Israel to “assume more security responsibility as Israel reduces its security footprint”.

Mr Netanyahu said the plan would give Israel “a permanent eastern border to defend ourselves”.

He stressed that the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, would be disarmed. Hamas said the talk of it disarming was “delusional”.

You may find the original story by this link;

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51299145

 

 

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