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Trump’s appeasement plan for Israel condemned

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Feb 5, 2020 - 10:38:22 AM

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President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive for a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 28, in Washington.

President Donald Trump has finally released his promised Middle East peace plan to resolve decades-long Palestinian and Israeli discord.

The document Mr. Trump calls the “deal of the century” was three years in the making and presented publicly Jan. 28 in a White House ceremony with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security,” declared President Trump.

The joint announcement came as both leaders faced political challenges at home. Mr. Trump was the subject of an impeachment and removal trial in the U.S. Senate while Mr. Netanyahu is fighting corruption charges that could derail his career. Both men deny any wrongdoing and some observers question whether the timing of the announcement was politically motivated. David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said the announcement’s timing was not tied to any political development, saying the plan had been “fully baked” for some time.

The embattled Netanyahu called Trump’s proposal an “historic breakthrough,” and “great plan for Israel” and “for peace.”

Noticeably absent at the unveiling were Palestinian leaders who dismissed the plan as one sided. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan as “nonsense” and vowed to resist it.

“We say 1,000 noes to the Deal of the Century,” said President Abbas, mockingly calling it the “slap of the century.”

“We will not kneel, and we will not surrender,” he said. Palestinians will resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means,” added President Abbas.

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, President Abbas said: “Jerusalem is not for sale, our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain and your deal, the conspiracy will not pass.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, announced President Abbas will take up the matter in coming weeks before the Security Council and possibly before the 193-member United Nations General Assembly.

He told reporters Mr. Abbas will place the reaction of the Palestinian people and leadership to “this onslaught against the national rights” of Palestinians by America before the world.

The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut all ties with Israel and America in Feb. 1 at an emergency session of the Arab League in Cairo, Egypt.

“We are informing you that there will be no relations with you (Israel) and the United States, including on security cooperation,” said Pres. Abbas.

“I will never accept this solution,” Pres. Abbas added. ... “I will not have it recorded in my history that I have sold Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian Authority severed ties with Washington in 2017 after the Trump administration signed off on Jerusalem being the capital of Israel and relocating the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. In 2018 the U.S. closed the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C., as well as the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem—America’s de facto embassy to the Palestinians. The plan is the latest act on a list of American antagonisms.

“The plan operates under the assumption that Palestinians are defeated and will therefore agree to anything,” said Saeb Erekat of the Palestine Liberation Organization in a statement. “Such a deal may work in the world of bankruptcies and real estate but not with people aspiring and struggling to earn their freedom.”

Mr. Erekat spent many years as the P.L.O. chief peace negotiator and added the U.S. is once again proving to be “part of the problem” and “becoming more irrelevant” in the Middle East.

Observers say these decisions against the Palestinians, a critical stakeholder, doomed any prospect for peace.

The Trump plan is a “non-starter,” said Omar Baddar, deputy director of the Arab American Institute in a telephone interview with The Final Call.

“I don’t think that the proposal that Trump put forward is a peace deal at all. I think that’s only a misnomer,” said Mr. Baddar.

It won’t lead to peace and the Palestinians would never sign something that gives all of their rights away, he said.

“If you look at the map and all the details … it’s pretty clear that this is really an apartheid proposal by which Palestinians are going to be confined to small pieces of land completely surrounded,” Mr. Baddar pointed out.

Mr. Trump’s plan was primarily led by his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and dubbed “Peace to Prosperity:—A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People.” Mr. Kushner did not consult Palestinians in drafting the document.

The plan favors Israel and further ties the hands of the Palestinians. It proposes a four-year freeze on Israelis building new settlements and the same timeline for Palestinians to agree to a security arrangement with Israel. That would include halting anti-Israeli occupation resistance by some groups and renouncing terrorism.

The timeline applies to developing institutions toward establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in Abu Dis, a part of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians are sure to reject, said analysts. Palestinians living in Abu Dis are cut off by a high concrete Israeli security wall and checkpoints that control movement into Israeli municipal areas of Jerusalem. The Palestinians have long insisted all of East Jerusalem should become their future capital.

The plan dictates Palestinian designated areas be “demilitarized” and allows Israeli occupiers to remain and keep sovereignty and security control over the entire territory and the highly contentious Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley annexation benefi ts Mr. Netanyahu, politically appealing to his hardline nationalist base, which applauds the plan. Mr. Trump said under the plan “no Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes,” and Jerusalem remains Israel’s undivided capital.

There was wide condemnation of the plan. The Palestinian National Committee leading the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Israel (BDS) movement blasted the proposal. It gives Israel the green light to continue committing war crimes and human rights violations, the group said.

“The plan Trump hatched with Israel’s far-right government aims to cement Israel’s apartheid rule over the Palestinian people. It is the final nail in the coffin of the moribund ‘peace process,’ ” tweeted BDS on Jan. 27.

A spokesman for Secretary General António Guterres said the United Nations wanted a peace deal on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.

Mixed reactions came from Arab governments. For decades the Palestinian cause united Arabs across the Middle East. But in recent years, it waned in importance.

Mr. Baddar predicted some governments in the region will soft pedal the proposal, not wanting to alienate America.

“At least suggesting that this is maybe a step that should be thought about, considered, moving forward,” said Mr. Baddar. “They see themselves as somewhat obligated to play nice and not have anything particularly negative to say up to this point.”

“This is not going to be a plan that is accepted or endorsed by anyone in the region … certainly not the populations in the region,” Mr. Baddar warned.

It’s one thing for Israel to ally itself with some Arab governments like Saudi Arabia, but real acceptance of the plan would have to be found in the sentiment of the Palestinian people.

Israel fundamentally has to change the way it treats the Palestinian people, Mr. Baddar said.

“At the end of the day any government that endorses a deal of this sort certainly would not be representative of its own people,” said Mr. Baddar.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates see Iran as the region’s greatest threat and Israel as an ally against Tehran.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese resistance movement, called Mr. Trump’s plan “the deal of shame” and called out Arab countries aligning themselves with America.

“This deal would not have taken place had it not been for the complicity and betrayal of a number of Arab regimes, secretly and publicly involved in this conspiracy,” Hezbollah said in a statement.