Trump releases Middle-East “Steal of the Century” plan

President Donald Trump proposed a Middle East plan on Tuesday that he claimed was a “realistic two-state solution” but caters to nearly every major Israeli demand and was immediately rejected by Palestinians.

Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Mr Trump said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plans as a “conspiracy”.

“I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,” he said in a televised address from Ramallah in the West Bank.

It lays the groundwork for Israel to immediately begin annexing all of its settlements in the West Bank with US backing and also foresees the establishment of a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.

“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.” Trump said.

His proposals are:

  • The US will recognise Israeli sovereignty over territory that Mr Trump’s plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that Mr Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make
  • The map will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem”, where Mr Trump says the US would open an embassy. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said Mr Trump’s plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called “historic Palestine”.
  • Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”. Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, be the capital of their future state.
  • An opportunity for Palestinians to “achieve an independent state of their very own” – however, he gave few details.
  • “No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes” – suggesting that existing Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will remain.
  • Israel will work with the king of Jordan to ensure that the status quo governing the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved. Jordan runs the religious trust that administers the site.
  • Territory allocated to Palestinians in Mr Trump’s map “will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years”. During that time, Palestinians can study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.

“Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism. They deserve a far better life,” Mr Trump said.

Palestinian negotiators have not had direct contact with the Trump administration in more than two years.Under the proposal, Trump said Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital,” but that a future Palestinian state would also have a “capital in east Jerusalem.”

Trump releases Middle-East "Steal of the Century" plan

Trump did not address the question of Palestinian refugees and whether they will have a right of return to their former homes. Trump said neither Palestinians nor Israelis would be uprooted from their homes under the plan.

The blueprint, which aims to solve one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, was drafted under the stewardship of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

No Palestinian representatives were invited to attend the White House event and Palestinian leaders have resoundingly rejected the U.S. plan.

On a call with reporters following the press conference, a senior U.S. official said “Israel does not have to wait at all” to apply its sovereignty over the territories, adding that the U.S. will recognize the territories as part of Israel regardless of the Palestinian position.

After the White House event, Netanyahu’s spokesperson Jonathan Urich tweeted “Sovereignty over all settlement on Sunday.”

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law, as is the construction of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.

The Jordan Valley territory granted to Israel under Trump’s plan is home to around 65,000 Palestinians and constitutes about 30 percent of the West Bank.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in the Gaza Strip earlier on Tuesday, while the Israeli military deployed reinforcements in the occupied West Bank.