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Trump Peace Plan Enrages Palestinians  01/29 06:30

   President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan Tuesday 
alongside a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting a vision that matched the 
Israeli leader's hard-line, nationalist views while falling far short of 
Palestinian ambitions.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited Mideast 
peace plan Tuesday alongside a beaming Benjamin Netanyahu, presenting a vision 
that matched the Israeli leader's hard-line, nationalist views while falling 
far short of Palestinian ambitions.

   Trump's plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key 
parts of the West Bank to Israel. It sides with Israel on key contentious 
issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status 
of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions 
for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

   Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plan as "nonsense" and 
vowed to resist it. Netanyahu called it a "historic breakthrough" equal in 
significance to the country's declaration of independence in 1948.

   "It's a great plan for Israel. It's a great plan for peace," he said.

   He vowed to immediately press forward with his plans to annex the strategic 
Jordan Valley and all the Israeli settlements in occupied lands. Netanyahu said 
he'd ask his Cabinet to approve the annexation plans in their next meeting on 
Sunday, an explosive move that could trigger harsh international reaction and 
renewed violence with the Palestinians.

   "This dictates once and for all the eastern border of Israel," Netanyahu 
told Israeli reporters later. "Israel is getting an immediate American 
recognition of Israeli sovereignty on all the settlements, without exceptions."

   Given the Palestinian opposition, the plan seems unlikely to lead to any 
significant breakthrough. But it could give a powerful boost to both Trump and 
Netanyahu who are both facing legal problems ahead of tough elections.

   Trump called his plan a "win-win" for both Israel and the Palestinians, and 
urged the Palestinians not to miss their opportunity for independence. But 
Abbas, who accuses the U.S. of unfair bias toward Israel, rejected it out of 
hand.

   "We say 1,000 no's to the Deal of the Century," Abbas said, using a nickname 
for Trump's proposal.

   "We will not kneel and we will not surrender," he said, adding that the 
Palestinians would resist the plan through "peaceful, popular means."

   The plan comes amid Trump's impeachment trial and on a U.S. election year, 
and after Netanyahu was indicted on counts of fraud, breach of trust and 
bribery in three separate cases. The longtime Israeli leader, who denies any 
wrongdoing, also faces a March 2 parliamentary election, Israel's third in less 
than a year. He hopes to use the plan, and his close ties with Trump, to divert 
attention from his legal troubles.

   The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem --- areas 
captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war --- for an independent state and the 
removal of many of the more than 700,000 Israeli settlers from these areas.

   But as details emerged, it became clear that the plan sides heavily with 
Netanyahu's hard-line nationalist vision for the region and shunts aside many 
of the Palestinians' core demands. 

   Under the terms of the "peace vision" that Trump's son-in-law and senior 
adviser Jared Kushner has been working on for nearly three years, all settlers 
would remain in place, and Israel would retain sovereignty over all of its 
settlements as well as the strategic Jordan Valley. 

   "The Israeli military will continue to control the entire territory," 
Netanyahu said. "No one will be uprooted from their home."

   The proposed Palestinian state would also include more than a dozen Israeli 
"enclaves" with the entity's borders monitored by Israel. It would be 
demilitarized and give Israel overall security control. In addition, the areas 
of east Jerusalem offered to the Palestinians consist of poor, crowded 
neighborhoods located behind a hulking concrete separation barrier. 

   Trump acknowledged that he has done a lot for Israel, but he said he wanted 
the deal to be a "great deal for the Palestinians."

   The plan would give the Palestinians limited control over an estimated 70% 
of the West Bank, nearly double the amount where they currently have limited 
self-rule. Trump said it would give them time needed to meet the challenges of 
statehood. 

   The only concession the plan appears to demand of Israel is a four-year 
freeze on the establishment of new Israeli settlements in certain areas of the 
West Bank. But Netanyahu clarified later that this only applied to areas where 
there are no settlements and Israel has no immediate plans to annex, and that 
he considered the plan to impose no limitations on construction.

   Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza City ahead of the announcement, 
burning pictures of Trump and Netanyahu and raising a banner reading "Palestine 
is not for sale."

   Trump said he sent a letter to Abbas to tell him that the territory that the 
plan has set aside for a new Palestinian state will remain open and undeveloped 
for four years. 

   "It's going to work," Trump said, as he presented the plan at a White House 
ceremony filled with Israeli officials and allies, including evangelical 
Christian leaders and wealthy Republican donors. Representatives from the Arab 
countries of Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates were present, but there 
were no Palestinian representatives.

   "President Abbas, I want you to know, that if you chose the path to peace, 
America and many other countries ... we will be there to help you in so many 
different ways," he said. "And we will be there every step of the way."

   The 50-page plan builds on a 30-page economic plan for the West Bank and 
Gaza that was unveiled last June and which the Palestinians have also rejected.

   It envisions a future Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank and 
Gaza, connected by a combination of roads and tunnels. It also would give small 
areas of southern Israel to the Palestinians as compensation for lost West Bank 
land.

   But the many caveats, and ultimate overall Israeli control, made the deal a 
nonstarter for the Palestinians.

   Netanyahu and his main political challenger in March elections, Benny Gantz, 
had signed off on the plan. 

   "Mr. President, because of this historic recognition and because I believe 
your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed," 
Netanyahu said. "I've agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the 
basis of your peace plan.

   The Jordan Valley annexation is a big part of Netanyahu's strategy and a key 
promise meant to appeal to his hard-line nationalist base, which mostly 
applauded the Trump plan.

   U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the plan's 
release, said they expected negative responses from the Palestinians, but were 
hopeful that Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab nations to have peace treaties 
with Israel, would not reject it outright. 

   Jordan gave the plan a cool reaction, saying it remained committed to a 
two-state solution based on Israel's pre-1967 lines. It also said it rejected 
any unilateral move by Israel, referring to the annexation plan.

   The reaction of Jordan, which would retain its responsibilities over 
Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque under the plan, is particularly significant. Located 
next to the West Bank, Jordan also is home to a large Palestinian population.

   Egypt, the first Arab country to reach a peace deal with Israel, urged 
Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan. The European Union also 
said it needed to study it more closely.

   Saudi Arabia, another key Arab country, said it appreciated the Trump 
administration's efforts and encouraged the resumption of direct talks between 
Israel and the Palestinians "under the auspices of the United States."

   U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations supports two 
states living in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of 
the pre-1967 borders, according to his spokesman.

   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 Trump has reversed decades of U.S. foreign policy 
by siding more blatantly with Israel. The centerpiece of his strategy was 
recognizing 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.

   Those policies have proven popular among Trump's evangelical and pro-Israel 
supporters.

   But the Palestinians refuse to even speak to Trump and they called on 
support from Arab leaders. 


(KR)

 
 
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